Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Broken down and tired: a lament

#meat13, the age when
I was sexually assaulted
Trigger warning: First of all, for all those women, men, and nonbinary folks out there who've been sexually assaulted, harassed, or abused, you are in my heart. This is a bit of a trigger-inducing rant, so bear with me.

Those who know me rarely see me depressed or feeling down. I'm a naturally cheerful, resilient, optimistic person. But this week I am feeling emotionally exhausted and depleted. As a 7 on the Enneagram ("the enthusiast"), depression can hit me, from out of nowhere, like a ton of bricks. I truly hate being depressed, and I'm eager to feel like myself again.

Here's what is wearing me down:
  • Women are posting photos of themselves with the hashtag #meat14 to show that a 14-year-old is not a consenting adult, in response to assholes who say it's okay for a grown adult to "date" a teenage girl ala Roy Moore. Rape apologists are actually defending a child molester, saying this is normal.
  • I'm damn glad that more people are coming forward to call out their abusers, but it is f*cking trauma inducing. The #metoo phenomenon, which I joined publicly last October, is affirming while at the same time being exhausting and tragic.
  • Evangelical Christians are perverting Christianity to defend pedophilia. Alabama state auditor Jim Ziegler compared Roy Moore to Joseph. “Take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.” SERIOUSLY? He also compared Moore to elderly Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth, parents of John the Baptist. Moore's brother compared his sleazy sibling to Jesus Christ, and Moore himself claimed he was in the middle of a spiritual battle. His wife Kay posted that Moore had support from 50 Alabama pastors. How much lower can the Republican party fall? Most Evangelical Christians continue to look the other way, allowing the Bible to be used to defend these perverts, and even supporting him MORE after these accusations came to light. There is no excuse for this behavior, and all people who do not decry it are complicit as hell. It makes me so embarrassed to be a Christian.
  • George Takei, Richard Dreyfuss, and Louis CK join the growing list of celebrities accused of sexual assault and harassment: Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, the U.S. Gymnastics doctor, Steven Seagal, George H.W. Bush, Bill O'Reilly, Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, ALFRED F*CKING HITCHCOCK!, and the list goes on. It's hard to stomach liberal favorite George Takei being part of the abuse problem, but the interview he gave on the Howard Stern show sealed my belief in his guilt. Hearing Stern and his co-host Robin Quivers laugh and joke about sexual assault made me sick to my stomach. First Takei claimed Russian bots were behind the allegation, and now he claims the statements he made on the show were part of his "naughty gay grandpa" shtick. Is that supposed to excuse his behavior? Really? Naughty gay grandpa? He's just made me feel sicker.
  • The week began with Republicans and the White House saying, "if it's true." Each time that statement is made, thousands more victims decide to keep silent, feeling shame and blame for the attack or abuse. We liberals too are guilty of "if it's true" or "it can't be true." Just take a look at all the support on George Takei's Facebook page, which still has over 10 million likes.
  • This week I'm listening to Janet Mock's great second memoir, Surprising Certainty, and she recounted a date rape, after which she told her then-boyfriend that she had "slept with someone" because of the shame she felt...and because women who are raped by someone they know are told they were asking for it.
  • Each time a survivor comes forward to tell the truth about someone in the public eye, they get shamed and disbelieved...especially if they are an athlete or a celebrity. Sports organizations are the worst. Did you know that 44 NFL players have been accused of rape or physical assault? Remember how long it took for people to believe Jerry Sandusky was a rapist and how some Penn State fans still defend him and his enabler Joe Paterno until the end?
  • The Atlantic published a powerful article yesterday about how liberals have given the first
    sexual-predator-in-chief Bill Clinton a pass. Feminists, in particular, are guilty for excusing and enabling his behavior (see this article by Gloria Steinem). Rape culture at its finest, infecting even the ones who should be attacking it at its core. I've never been an avid supporter of Bill Clinton, but I've also realized I too have been complicit in not calling him out for his behavior.
  • It's been uncovered that taxpayers have unknowingly paid $15 million in settlement fees to women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted by members of congress. Women are not your playthings, assholes.
  • We have a misogynist, perverted perpetrator in the White House--one that is far worse than Bill Clinton--and we who have been assaulted can never stop being reminded of the fact that people who voted for him either don't believe his accusers or perhaps worse, don't care about his vile behavior. Here's a list of women who have accused him of sexual assault, or what Wikipedia calls "unwanted physical contact." FFS. The godforsaken (truly) WHITE HOUSE is defending this creep, while trashing our country by forcibly trying to yank away the tenuous safety net, forsaking the poor, people of color, immigrants, people on low and middle incomes, and everyone else on the margins. Congress is trying to pass a tax plan (and repeal Obamacare) that will hurt or bankrupt millions while lining the pockets of the rich.
  • Gun violence. You know what I mean. Today there was another shooting in California, and my first response was "another one?" Nothing will ever change, because the NRA lines the pockets of people in power and rabid gun owners care more about their guns than actual human beings.
  • This week scientists issued another warning that our time to reverse climate change and prevent global environmental collapse is running out. It's becoming harder to be hopeful.
I looked at my sweet little fifth grader last night and wondered, what will this world be like when he becomes an adult? What kind of irreversible damage is being done with this dumb, corrupt, authoritarian, extremely dangerous, narcissistic sociopath sitting in the Oval Office...and even worse perhaps, Republicans in Congress enabling his horrible actions and excusing his words?

In the past week, we have at least some silver lining. Finally, the Republicans are pulling away from Roy Moore. Today, miracle of miracles, Paul Ryan announced that the Congress would undergo sexual harassment training. #itsabouttime But when will they actually believe the MANY WOMEN who have accused the Predator-in-Chief? How is he any different from Roy Moore, except for the fact that he targeted 19- and 20-year-olds? He's still a dirty old man.

Rebecca Solnit's brilliant essay, Let This Flood of Women's Stories Never Cease, affirms that perhaps this is the beginning of the end of not believing survivors. Maybe this drastic pulling off the bandage and exposing the bloody wound beneath the scab will make things better for survivors. Maybe people will start to realize how extremely rare it is for people to lie about these things (only 2 to 10 percent of accusations). I hope survivors keep telling their truths, even though it's incredibly traumatizing for them--and for other survivors like me.

"What would women’s lives be like, what would our roles and accomplishments be, what would our world be, without this terrible punishment that looms over our daily lives?" --Rebecca Solnit


But I will rise up.

Resilience is my new middle name and will be my next tattoo. I know this exhaustion and broken-down-and-tired feeling is temporary. You abusers, assaulters, rapists, and defenders of these villains will not win. Part of my healing is writing this all down. Thank you for listening.

Please join me in dismantling misogyny and rape culture by believing survivors and calling out enablers and accusers. Help stop rape culture now.

If you are a survivor, I'd like to tell you about an incredible art project and tribute to survivors. It's called Mere Objects: Participatory Art Honoring Those Who Have Experienced Sexual Violence. It's free to participate in the project, and I'm still pondering what I will send in.

And I'll leave you with one of my favorite songs, which is giving me hope this week:


Rise Up by Andra Day

You're broken down and tired
Of living life on a merry go round
And you can't find the fighter
But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out
And move mountains
We gonna walk it out
And move mountains

And I'll rise up
I'll rise like the day
I'll rise up
I'll rise unafraid
I'll rise up
And I'll do it a thousand times again

When the silence isn't quiet
And it feels like it's getting hard to breathe
And I know you feel like dying
But I promise we'll take the world to its feet
And move mountains
We'll take it to its feet
And move mountains 
And I'll rise up
I'll rise like the day
I'll rise up
I'll rise unafraid
I'll rise up
And I'll do it a thousand times again
For you

All we need, all we need is hope
And for that we have each other
And for that we have each other
We will rise
We will rise

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