Friday, October 21, 2016


WARNING: adult themes today. 
Herself speaks.



"Not true." 
"I did try and fuck her. She was married.”
“Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
“Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything."
“These events [assaults on various women] never, ever happened, and the people that said them, meekly, fully understand. You take a look at these people, you study these people, and you’ll understand also.”
"Such a nasty woman."
-- Donald Trump

I have tried, valiantly, to avoid any political discussion here. Politics are fraught with strong opinions, and my setting forth my thoughts on matters will not change the mind of anyone whose feelings are in opposition to mine. I will not debate the merits of Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton as President and Commander-in-chief; I am compelled, however, to say a few words about the type of person Donald Trump seems to be. The thoughts have festered and raged inside my head for weeks and weeks now, growing ever sharper.

Donald Trump is the embodiment of every woman's Nightmare Man.

A man who feels his position of power entitles him to a woman's body.
A man who disparages those who have come forward to speak of his assaulting them, by insinuating that they are too ugly for him to make physical advances on them.
A man who interrupts.
A man who name-calls.
A Terrible Nightmare Man.

And women, watching these things unfold, are reminded of all of the men (and boys) who have behaved in this manner. I have been quite fortunate -- my stories are not nearly as terrible or as numerous as those of other women. Let me tell you about just a few of these moments: a glimpse into what it is to be a woman.

  • The sweaty, drunken middle-aged man who leers across several rows of the bleachers at a baseball game, at me as a fifteen-year-old: NICE SWEATSHIRT, SWEETHEART. (I have mentioned this story before, here.) I am suddenly self-conscious  -- my baggy mauve shirt does not disguise my recently-developed breasts. I don't feel comfortable wearing the sweatshirt in public any more, even though it is my favorite color. I put it away. 
  • The tween boy who makes a show to his friends of deliberately turning away from tween me at a summer camp dance. I am being rejected without knowing why -- and publicly so, as he turns away and his friends cackle at me each time I walk by. A blush of humiliation creeps into my hair. 
  • The older boy, a few years later at another summer camp dance, who urges me to take a walk on the beach and then suddenly, unexpectedly, grabs my breast and my crotch. I remove his hands and walk back up to the main cabin alone, thinking about how the walk on the beach was not a romantic suggestion, but merely an opportunity to make sure he can gloat to his friends that he got all the way to Third Base. I do not tell anyone, because, I think, surely I have no one else to blame but myself -- I did, after all, agree to go for a stroll. I have never told anyone of this, until now. 
  • The stranger who inserts himself between me and the apples in the grocery store, impeding my  shopping, while he grins too-widely at me and tells me to smile.
  • The self-important high school senior who takes my hand and places it on the fly of his jeans as we sit in his car in my driveway. "You do know what to do?" he inquires commandingly. I shake my head, and quickly excuse myself. He goes home, and a few days later breaks up with me because I won't put out. (I have mentioned part of this story before, here.) I first feel inadequate and embarrassed, before I realize that I should be angry. I stay angry for a very long time.
The list can go on. This is enough, for now. 

All these small happenings -- these incursions into space, these takings of what is not offered -- are Dangerous Moments, and we as women learn to navigate them and avoid them if we can. Most alarmingly of all, our first instinct so often is to blame ourselves for their occurrence. We are not safe from Men, and yet somehow it is our fault -- we should have dressed differently, behaved differently, just smiled, just done whatever was needed to avoid confrontation or escalation. 

We can find some safety in motherhood, for having several small children surrounding oneself (as well as the extra pounds and fatigue that accompany young motherhood) serve as a kind of shield against Men of the world. Sometimes, though, even that is not enough. 

I have been very fortunate in that in the professional world, I have never been -- as far as I am aware -- sneered at or belittled solely for being a woman. Perhaps I didn't notice, because I didn't expect it. It is quite easy, though, to find stories among my peers of belittlement, contradiction, unprofessional conduct by male colleagues. We do not want to believe -- almost cannot believe -- the recountings, because it is so difficult to understand exactly why being a woman makes a person somehow less in a man's eyes. It can't possibly be that way, can it? 

Yes, it can.

And with all of this as the world in which women live: Donald Trump rises.

We look at him and listen to him and we hear those voices, we recall those unwanted hands, we remember the disparagement and the negating of our opinions and our feelings. The undermining of our careers. The overstepping of boundaries, the belittlement. The Horror.

We shudder. We want to protect ourselves. We want to be free of always having to be wary, to tiptoe and to mollify and to silence ourselves lest we become a target again. We are afraid that our professional advancement, and personal successes, will again and again be impeded, purely by the fact that we are women. We feel powerless once more.

He makes us afraid.

And very angry.

No more.

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