“I didn’t hear the accusations,
I only heard the denial.”
Jerry Falwell Jr.
Last Friday, we were all made privvy to what sort of things the Republican Party’s choice for president says about women when he thinks he’s among friends. Allies, even. We got a little insight into the sorts of things the Republican Party’s choice for president believes he is entitled to do to women, given his celebrity status.
Trump: “Yeah that’s her with the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful… I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.
And when you’re a star they let you do it.
You can do anything.”
Bush: “Whatever you want.”
Trump: “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Everybody was outraged. We-ell, that’s not exactly true, now is it? Not everybody. We learned that most men seem to hear things differently than women do.
The initial reaction was a flurry of articles and blog posts and open letters from women asking men how they could support the Republican Party’s choice for president after his blatant misogyny and sexually aggressive talk about women. How they could continue to entertain the notion of voting for him after we heard him blithely brag about sexual assault. The articles asked men how they could, as fathers, brothers, husbands, and grandfathers, not denounce this man as the morally unfit predator that he is?
I have been guilty of making this argument. I’ve put it in that context because it does not seem that most men care about this until it is framed that particular way. I don’t know. Is it a “not in my backyard” sort of a thing? It’s okay if he hates other women, but when someone intimates that it might have an affect on “your” women it becomes relevant? I mean, we say, “THIS IS NOT OKAY!” until we’re blue in the face, but until we ask, “IS THIS OKAY FOR YOUR DAUGHTER?” most men cannot seem to hear us. Until it is brought into their personal world, they don’t see the harm.
Anyway, that seemed to resonate on some level, because then followed articles by men expressing outrage on behalf of the women in their lives- because apparently we are to be championed and revered.
Initially, it was pretty refreshing to see men weighing in on this at all. I mostly saw this on Twitter, where I tend to follow writers, thinkers, and artists whose work I admire. On my Facebook feed, it was pretty quiet. Y’know, from the men in my actual life. A few weighed in. The usual suspects, who I have come to appreciate more and more in recent days.
Then there began to be articles and posts by women pointing out that men shouldn’t be thinking of women only in terms of their relationship to men. That they didn’t need to be a father or a husband or a brother to recognize this behavior as deplorable – they just needed to be decent human beings. You know, like we women are human beings, and worthy of respect apart from any connection or relation we have to men.
“I’m offended as a guy.”
It made me reflect on why I felt the need to make that argument, and the answer can be found in the same Facebook newsfeed. When Brock Turner got off with a slap on the wrist, I saw virtually nothing posted by men. Not on their own pages, anyway. MAYBE they’d like a post or comment on what a shame it was, but there was a decided lack of outrage. Bill Cosby? Crickets. The Republican Party’s choice for president’s comments on women throughout the campaign calling them fat, ugly, commenting on menstrual cycles as though they were a character flaw and declaring breastfeeding and the need to use the restroom to be “disgusting.”
You could hear a pin drop.
You’ve probably seen that meme that says, “Privilege is when you thnk something is not a problem because it is not a problem for you personally.”
You know what privilege looks like? It looks like being surprised by the number of times the GOP’s choice for president interrupted Hillary Clinton during the first debate. I did not see or hear a single woman express surprise over that.
You know what privilege sounds like? It sounds like men immediately making the recordings about them. We heard men say, “Can you imagine if someone taped what you said in private and played it for everyone to hear? We’d be screwed.” Really?? Then you should probably examine the things you are saying in private. Misogyny articulated in private is still misogyny. Who you are when you think no one is listening is WHO YOU ACTUALLY ARE.
You know what privilege does? It assumes. “When you’re famous they let you do anything.” I think people are fundamentally misunderstanding the GOP’s nominee here. I think THEY really means society, and LET simply means he got away with it. Ask any woman how many times she’s fended off unwanted advances, been kissed, groped, grabbed, pinched, backed into a corner- how many times she’s smiled and moved someone’s hand, laughed and tried to extricate herself from an unwanted embrace. Then ask how many times the man faced consequences. I bet those guys would say, “She let me do it.”
Privilege is being shocked by the staggering number of women who immediately began responding to Kelly Oxford’s tweet asking us to weigh in on what age we were when we endured our first sexual assault.
You can only be shocked by that when the prospect of assault isn’t even on your radar. I take sexual assault into account every single day. I take my dog out late at night before I go to bed, and I take precautions every single night. Which means every single night I am aware of potential harm.
It occurs to me that on police shows when they are trying to scare male suspects with prison, the threat is always of rape. Because it’s just the worst thing they can imagine, and the notion of being in an environment where that could happen at any time is so horrifying and terror inducing they know it will be effective.
Well guess what, men? That’s the world women live in. ALL the time. Not just when they’re locked up and have had their power taken away for doing something wrong. ALL the time. Every day.
That means your ‘worst case scenario?’ Your ‘DefCon 10?’ That’s our Tuesday.
Men take safety for granted the same way women accept danger as a given.
We cohabit the same earth, men and women, but we don’t live in the same world.
I am writing a book and in order to get said book published it is awfully helpful to make the most of your platform. At least, that is what The People Who Know The Things tell me.
Please consider doing the following:
Come hang out with me on Facebook!
Follow me on Twitter!
Come see what my dog is doing on Instagram!
If you’re following me on Pinterest… don’t. And I’m sorry. I don’t even know how I ended up there…
“I take sexual assault into account every day.” Does this make us paranoid? No. We are aware of the real threat everyday. I’m proud of you. Well done, Laura.
“We cohabit the same earth, men and women, but we don’t live in the same world.” This, a thousand times. Thank you. Well said.
I wish everybody had been outraged. Then, we wouldn’t have spent the last several days having men explain to US what sexual assault actually is. We wouldn’t have had MEN try to help us understand what a ‘pussy’ actually is and where our vagina is anatomically located. We wouldn’t have had women who we know tell us we are being unreasonable and too sensitive and too feminist. We wouldn’t have had mothers tell us it’s just ‘locker room talk.’ We wouldn’t have had middle-aged, white, male, Christian leaders tell us the significance of his words and actions are nil compared to those of that woman’s husband many years ago. We wouldn’t have had middle-aged, white, male, Christian leaders tell us that her husband wouldn’t have cheated on her if she’d been a better wife. We wouldn’t have been told to JUST GET OVER IT.
We would have slept more, been drawn into memories less, and been able to enjoy our present more. We would have felt safer, seen, heard. We would have had hope that our ‘just another Tuesday’ may someday turn into an ACTUAL worst case scenario.
IF everybody had been outraged.
But. WE will continue to be fucking outraged. We will be loud. This is the world we live in, and we will NOT be silent.
Thank you, sister, for your strong, brave words. Let’s change the culture.
My Name says
While I share your condemnation of the jerk’s behavior, I resent your allegation that all men were defensive. Most of us not only would never do that, most of us consider it abhorrent. But it doesn’t disqualify him from office, because he had already disqualified himself by things he said THIS year. Unfortunately, Clinton is a long way from sainthood in that department, and it looks like were going to be stuck with one of them.
In Others' Words says
I don’t believe I alleged any such thing. And I agree, Donald Trump had proven himself unfit to lead dozens of times before these tapes surfaced. This is not the first time I have written about how unsuited he is to serve as president, but as a woman and a survivor of sexual assault and an advocate for other survivors, I felt compelled to weigh in on this particular situation.
Talk about life needing trigger warnings lately, good thing we aren’t all on a college campus.
Most of the men in my life don’t agree it’s just locker room talk, have never engaged in talk like that, never will. But we know this. That so goes without saying anyway.
It has been endlessly frustrating watching all the excuses being made by Trump supporters; politicians, religious leaders, random people on facebook and twitter, or whatever.
Someone told me I should ask one of Bill’s victims what it’s like to be raped. It took everything I had not to reply, “What makes you think I have to ask?”
And someone else said one of the stories is false because she invited him to her restaurant and you would never invite an abuser back into your life. [Hah. Need I even comment on that one as I contemplate family weddings and Christmas visits?!]
I mostly just wanted to say that I loved your closing. About how their Defcon 10 is merely another day for women.
And to say thank you once again for providing a touchstone in the wilderness. Hasn’t been an easy couple of weeks personally, and all this stuff in the news isn’t helping.
Meredith W. says
Hey, moth2flame. I’m sorry this poor excuse for a man (much less a presidential candidate) has thrown you–and so many others–back into their individual versions of hell. We heard what he said, no matter who tries to spin it otherwise.
Knowing that the coming of the holiday season and family gatherings must already be making your stomach churn, I have said a prayer for you while sitting here and will try to remember to continue to do so. Have to be honest and admit I’m not very good at a regular prayer life. :-
Thank you, as always.
I’ve been struggling with Trump for well over a year. He reminds me too much of sociopathic family members. Grandiose and narcissistic and pathological liar and so full of himself and revisionist — so the last couple weeks have just been more heaped on top of one big source of distress. I can’t figure out why people in the primaries couldn’t see him for who he is — that, too, felt way too familiar.
Yeah. Holiday season and a family wedding coming up to boot. This time of year is so hard. I appreciate the kind thoughts and prayers. I’m hanging in there; some days by a thread, some days a little better, but it’s still just October.
I’ve been doing EMDR therapy. Dunno if anyone else has tried that, but…. it’s taken me a long time to work with the process but yesterday — I can see why EMDR is a thing. Instead of just isolated, ugly snatches, I have more of a flowing story with depth and context — which is both awful, but better, too. Hard to explain, I’m still trying to absorb it. I say yesterday, but really it’s been building on itself I think longer than that, of course.
That depth and context — is leaving me shaken, but with more understanding than I’ve ever had for myself.
Who knows, can’t predict yet if this will hold or not, but maybe it will make the holiday time and family visits different. One thing — I’ve always “known” I had no where to turn — but yesterday, I remembered what it was like to “feel” that, actually feel it and fully experience it. And feeling it is way different than knowing. Horrible to feel it, but also a reason — maybe — for why I didn’t resist or say no, and that’s always been the endless source of hating myself.
It had definitely been a rocky couple of weeks. You’re not alone.
Then we’ll hang out together, Rachel… would be my honor for us to sit side by side right now.
In Others' Words says
this notion makes me very happy.
HAS, not had…. If it was ‘had,’ that would mean we’d made it through all of this, but we’re not quite there yet. We’ll make it together.
Just a couple more weeks!
Well, I hope. I’m afraid he’s not going to go quietly into the night. But maybe he’ll get less press coverage, anyway.
“That means your ‘worst case scenario?’ Your ‘DefCon 10?’ That’s our Tuesday.” <—- there it is
Meredith W. says
Wanting to “like” and reply more here and other places, but WordPress is giving me fits and I can’t figure out why.
I have done some EMDR and I know my therapist would like me to try more. My husband nearly died right in front of me from a hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) episode back in December, and that took a toll. We’ve had some bad times in his 23 years as an insulin-dependent diabetic, but that was definitely the worst.
There are some other issues she would like to try it with as well that are from younger days, but it’s hard to willingly “go back” to thos…I’m sure even more so for most folks here who have done it. I’m not sure yet how much I trust it to help.
I can only speak to my experience with EMDR. I was pretty much a skeptic, and if you read online the research goes both ways (from works well to it’s just the same as cognitive therapy, etc.)
But reading online and experiencing it for the last year — two different things. I would imagine it depends on the person, the types of issues being dealt with, etc.
For one thing, my “preparation” phase (which sometimes we still wander in and out of) has been really long and slow… but I come with a lot of stuff to unpack. I think one-off or less complex traumas go a lot quicker, from what I’ve read. But it can work with more complex, also. The point is, though — IF you have a good EMDR therapist, they’ll keep the pacing to what you can handle. How much “going back there” you can tolerate.
Don’t get me wrong, so many times I’ve thought about not going back — there are things entirely not easy about it.
But there are results that are different than six years of talk therapy could give me, also. So I guess it’s a question if those results are worth the struggle?
I guess my answer is yes, as I signed up for more appts.
I know, because I’m me, I’m taking the long way around to this answer… but I just wanted to set that as a background.
I’m not a creative, imaginative, visualization type person. But EMDR opens those avenues in me. It gets to places in my brain and psyche that I can’t get to on my own.
It’s brought more detail and context and tone and texture and — ugh — feelings to light. Feelings that are what I felt then — and I know that sounds horrible, because it is, but there’s some kind of weird peace in it, too.
I know the “scientific” theories — that trauma is stored differently in the brain — not episodic/narrative memory, but isolated snatches of feelings, body sensations, trapped in the cells memory. And methodologies like EMDR or somatic experiencing move it from the trapped parts over to normal memory storage (aka “processing”). Okay, reading that is one thing, experiencing it is entirely something else.
I think it’s what Laura preaches, only internally — when you can tell your story, and it’s the more complete “narrative” — when it encompasses all the variables and the elements and it’s fully fleshed out in your own mind — wow, that changes things. Instead of the same ugly snatches of memory haunting me over and over, hijacking me into flashbacks —
Don’t get me wrong. The memories are still ugly. There’s still shame attached. So, so much shame.
But there’s something else, too. Perspective, maybe?
Not sure that makes it any more clearer, but I would encourage you to attempt it anyway. Might be more payback than you can imagine. And if that doesn’t work, try somatic experiencing instead. I’ve read good things about it, too.
It is so, so hard to willingly jump into the muck and the darkness. I get that. But for the first time ever I can imagine being more free of it than I’ve ever been before.
Now my EMDR is adjunct to talk therapy, and the talk therapist focuses a lot on emotions and feelings and he’s really skilled at trauma, too, and I think my progress is a combination of both of them, not one alone. I push back really hard on him sometimes, much more than he deserves, but he certainly keeps me staying on the emotional level more, whereas I’ve always avoided that like crazy, and I’m sure that’s been a lot of my progress, too, even if I’d had to be pulled kicking and screaming into the world of feelings and emotions.
Meredith W. says
So sorry not to have gotten back to this before. Have been having problems with WordPress for months, and (I shouldn’t even say this out loud), things seem to be working right tonight, so I’m trying to catch up on various posts and comments and replies. Still can’t “like” any comment or reply, and I don’t know why not.
I appreciate you sharing what you did about the EMDR. I have to figure out if I want to do any more of that. Oh, wow….just this second realized that it was one year ago today that my husband almost died in front of me. Yikes. Okay, I think I’m going to pass on by and go back to “I’m going to pretend that never happened.” Because of course my therapist (who I’ve barely seen this year) wants me to go “back” to that day to work on it, and I don’t want to go there. Simple, yes?
None of it’s simple, as we all know.
I think as much as you can stand, keep showing up for appointments. Even if you duck and avoid and keep distracting conversations going — you’re still there, and there’s still the opportunity for the occasional opening and wedge to happen.
When the therapist I saw for 5 years recommended I switch to this guy that is way more feelings based, she made me promise to keep focused on the past — because I am queen of bringing the mundane world into the room and focusing on work and children anxiety and not dealing with my past.
I’ve largely kept that promise and it has made a difference.
You can pretend it never happened. I can pretend I wasn’t scarred and traumatized during my childhood — that it “wasn’t that bad” or “it was so long ago, I’m over it now, or I should be anyway” — that only works for so long, though.
Let it out into the daylight. The work of pushing it away and back is so much harder than getting to the other side of the mountain — and don’t get me wrong, that is HARD also. Really, really hard. But so worth it in the end; and you do get somewhere, not just stay in the same place, pushing back and pretending.
Twenty five years ago today my father died. I have a friend whose mother was hit by a drunk driver 10 years ago today and was killed. And four years ago was Sandy Hook, and those poor families marking that anniversary. Dates always loom big in my head for some reason.
In Others' Words says
That’s a heavy day, sweet friend. I have lots of anniversaries around this time, too. The brutal, nestled right up against the beautiful, as is so often the case. As GDM always says, “brutiful.” Holding space for you today.
Meredith W. says
What’s this “somatic” thing?
“Somatic experience” is a methodology originated by Peter Levine, I think. My therapist explained it like this:
Think of prey animals in the wild — a rabbit going along its business and out of nowhere a predator chases and it goes into fight/flight/freeze (flight) and escapes — and this happens over and over in the rabbit’s life, but it doesn’t end up traumatized. Because after it’s over, it tends to shake and let out the pent up energy — so somatic experiencing is all about that — letting out the energy of movements your body wanted to do at the time but couldn’t.
He talked me through one once — there was weight on me and I just wanted to push it off — and of course I was frozen because I always am, but he talked me around to actually being able to use my arms to push and it was kind of bizarre afterward — they tingled, there was a difference, maybe even almost a strength and that evening I did something (small) that I’m usually not capable of doing — so I think it has validity. It’s an alternative to EMDR but the same type of treatment in the sense it’s tagging into the brain and muscle and cell memories in different ways than just talk can do.
Meredith W. says
Very interesting. Thank you for the explanation; I’d never heard of it.
I’m sorry, too, that you have a bunch of crapaversaries at the same time. (Got that word from a writer who isn’t sure where she got it.) I have a friend for whom there are major stressors mid-December as well.
I’ll think about doing more EMDR. The one time that it seemed as if we got to a resolution(?) of a particular event from my childhood, I’m not sure it had any effect beyond a kind of satisfactory feeling at that moment.