In high school, I was a member of a traveling theater troupe performing The Jungle Book at the region’s elementary schools. I was Baloo. Bask in my coolness. One day, we were carpooling from or to a performance, I don’t remember, and one of my male castmates was in the backseat with me. He was drunk. I don’t remember the specifics, but I was “being a bitch” and he had a way to shut me up. It was to take out his dick. I don’t think it made it all the way out because I’m pretty sure I punched him in the stomach and told him to quit being an asshole. But I remember seeing way more of this dude than I’d ever planned on or wanted to.
Now, this was, what, 20 years ago now? I doubt this dude remembers this. I doubt the dude driving the car remembers it. I don’t even remember who else was in the passenger seat. I very vaguely remember this incident and don’t think I told anyone contemporaneously, because it was just another example of this guy being a drunk asshole. I haven’t thought about it in 20 years, until all of this Brett Kavanaugh nonsense started.
The more I think about it, the more I’m angry. I’m angry that I was just annoyed by the incident and brushed it off immediately. I’m angry I didn’t have the words or the context to understand why this particular power play is so fucked up. That taking his dick out was this guy’s idea to shut up a mouthy broad and how this is rape culture. Because whatever his plan was beyond just whipping it out, his dick was forced on me. Yes, just the sight of it, because I was lucky? And aggressive? And we were in the backseat of a moving vehicle so it couldn’t go any further? But I have no doubt this dude could have physically overpowered me, could have hurt me, could have taken it as far as he wanted, and would have felt entitled to show me my place.
From the reports I’ve read, Brett Kavanaugh had a bit of a drinking habit in high school and college. Maybe some of those times he took out his dick as a “joke” or tried to get a little action without necessarily getting consent. Two women have publicly come forward (as of now) to say these things happened to them. Mitch McConnell just stood up in the Senate and dismissed their claims because there’s no contemporaneous evidence, no corroborating accounts.
I’m writing this to say I believe the women. Because every woman has a story (or two or a million). And because this shit happens all the time, we justify it by saying he was drunk or we put ourselves in a bad situation, or we deserved it because we were being a bitch. We don’t tell our parents because teenagers don’t tell their parents anything. We might tell our friends, unless they’re mutual friends and we don’t want to deal with not being believed. We might write about it in a journal or talk to a therapist. Or we might chalk it up to life and boys being boys and the way the world works and maybe we were lucky it wasn’t that bad was it that’s no reason to get this guy in trouble most of the time he’s fine he was drinking he was high I was drinking he was joking around I don’t want to lose my friends over this I don’t want to think about it at all because it makes me feel small and sad and worthless and it was really my fault I should have should have should have I stopped it it wasn’t rape rape or assault assault or didn’t leave a mark just laugh it off and move on and move on and move on and one day you won’t remember.
But we have a collective unconscious, women do, where we know and we remember and we dream. And we hear the stories of our friends and family and neighbors and strangers and we say “Oh yes, I remember now. I remember that dick and that shout and that insult and that pain and I remember my silence and your silence and rolling my eyes and I remember forgetting.”
So say what you will about whether this is a disqualifying incident. Whether a boy being a boy is enough to say you cannot be the law of this land. Debate your morals versus your power. But do not tell us that there is no evidence no corroboration because we are here to say I believe. I remember. I am the evidence. I am the corroboration.
There’s a growing sense of dread that’s come to sit on my shoulders. I know I’m not the only one. There’s an uneasiness that lives somewhere between my stomach and my heart, a churning ball of anxiety and rage and sorrow. There is an unshakeable tension between my shoulders and a slight tremor in my hands. I’m becoming terrified of our world, our country, our society.
I don’t have to spell it out. Your fear might not have the exact same triggers as mine, but it’s there in all of us right now. All of us who pay the slightest attention to the world outside. Like a old Maine fisherman, we’re sitting on our front porches, looking at the sky and muttering “Stahm’s a’ brewin’.”
Underneath all of that scary, there sits a tiny shred of hope, though. I can’t help my streak of optimism and I’m trying very hard to focus on it, nurture it now when it is needed most. My hope comes from seeing Bernie Sanders almost pull off the upset of the century and reminding Democrats what liberal is. My hope comes from watching crowds gather in solidarity around victims of violence. My hope comes from national outrage at reduced sentences for the affluent white male. My hope is that more and more people are waking the fuck up. Continue reading
● Upon reading a brave young lady’s account of being sexually assaulted at a metal show,
I was reminded of the time I confessed to a past boyfriend my deep dark secret of being
assaulted myself. And how he called me a liar. Same boyfriend a few months later got
angry at me for yelling at one of his customers at the bar he worked at because the
customer grabbed my ass, and was equally handsy with other ladies at the same time.
● Taking a walk last night, I was hollered at by an SUV full of young men. Contrary to their
intentions, I was not flattered, only thankful I was on a busy street so if they tried to
physically assault me, at least I was in public and would maybe get help from passers by. Continue reading
I hate a lot of things. Like. A lot. Mayonnaise, Michael McDonald, abortion protests, peep toe booties, the months of July and August, pets, dirty dishes, Pretty Woman, overbearing parents. (An abbreviated list for sure.) But in that “overbearing parents” category is the “mama bear.” And to the mama bear, I say, “Ugh, shut the fuck up.” Continue reading
I’m getting my angry liberal/feminist on. If you think that might offend you, you’ve been warned. I also curse. A lot.
I think I’m fairly even-tempered. I don’t fight, I don’t get in yelling matches, I don’t break random objects in a fit of rage. When someone makes me upset, I try to tell them. If that doesn’t work, I’ll just ignore them. I believe in the anger management philosophy of walking away and settling down.
But that’s not cutting it right now. Today my anger has reached critical mass and is about to take everything out. I want to scream and then hulksmash everything. Once my deep, cold reserve of anger is tapped, get out of my way before I take it out on you.
Why so angry? Why today? Everything has just been building and now here I am. And, you know what? You should be really angry, too. We should all be spitting nails and blowing gaskets and losing our cool.
Today’s guest post comes from David, who many of us have known for half of our lives. He used to go by Dave, went to my senior prom with me, and is the reason I saw The Phantom Menace in a movie theater. I’ll let you decide which is unforgivable. (Hint: Jar Jar Binks)
I’m done with trying to convince you. Done. I don’t need you to validate what I choose to eat, to listen to, to pass my time with. I get it. You don’t agree. You don’t like the taste of that thing I’m eating, that music I’m listening to, that movie I’m watching, that game I’m playing. It’s fine. Your lack of like doesn’t lessen mine.
No, I don’t want to tell you why I didn’t like Man of Steel. No, I don’t really want to hear how disappointed you were with that salmon. I really don’t need to watch that online video of that parody of that TV show I don’t watch anyway to confirm why I wasn’t watching to begin with. I don’t need to hear your reasons why you like the thing I don’t. I don’t need to tell you the reasons I like the thing you don’t. Why is this the basis of all of our conversations? Do we really need to debate the things that give us some pleasure? Isn’t life dumb enough that we don’t need to make it dumber by defending or validating the dumb things we experience?
I was recently introduced to the list 101 Everyday Ways for Men to be Allies to Women. This was prompted by my announcement to my younger sister (who is a very intelligent, feminist woman) that I had written a guest post for a “feminist blog”. I was quickly informed that my views were not original or special in any way. This is a perfect demonstration of why many progressive men are not as outspoken about their feminist views as they could be. On the one hand, if we mention our views we are ridiculed for being “whipped” or subservient to women. On the other hand we are marginalized by feminists for “stating the obvious” and for not being feminist enough. To be clear, we are not asking for recognition, however we are asking for affirmation that we are doing the right things. Instead a of reaction “thanks for noticing, now if you could get the rest of you male assholes on board”, maybe it would be more productive to have a reaction of “That’s great! Now, how about thinking about this issue/idea that you may not have thought about before?” It’s amazing to me that feminist women wonder why more men are not allying with women on this issue. What do you expect when we offer support and we are met with negativity and criticism for just being a man?
Within the first month of Ben’s elementary school career he was diagnosed with ADHD – combined type, which means not only does he have trouble focusing, he also has trouble sitting still or being quiet for long, or even short periods of time. Pretty much unless there is a video game controller, crayon, paintbrush or Lego in his hands he’s moving around, singing at the top of his lungs or laughing maniacally at nothing. Since the diagnosis, he has taken several different medications, different dosages and combinations of different medications with different dosages. I’m pretty sure any adult taking them would be disassembling and reassembling their vacuum cleaner just because. Basically, I went against everything I have ever said and drugged my child, bad mommy!
Cut to six months later and let me tell you…I am frustrated! More frustrated than October Road being cancelled and having no hope of ever finding out who that kids dad is! I am tired of the negative reports I get from his kindergarten teacher every day when I pick him up from school, just before she tells me he how much time he spent in the office that day. It really pisses me off that he is sent to the office on a daily and ends up missing out on valuable class time. And the teacher wonders why he is so far behind the other kids in his class. I am tired of the unanswered questions and not having the resources to figure out where to go and what to do next! I am not asking someone to hold my hand and skip through this wonderful world of IEP’s, 504 Plans, medication or support groups with me….just a little help.
The majority of my adult life was defined by insomnia. Scratch that – the majority of my life, period. Summer vacations involved a lot of reruns at 2am – which explains my deep, eternal love for Scott Bakula. Mornings were my enemy – to the point that I worked for several years on an overnight shift. It suited me – although I did start reacting to sunlight like Gollum.
I’ve been on all of the sleeping pills, the pills that aren’t for sleeping but have that as a side effect, herbal teas, supplements. I’ve cut out caffeine, tried meditation, set up a very specific schedule, exercised, and tried drinking myself to sleep. Nothing worked for more than a week, most not at all. I’d accepted my life would be lived in an exhausted haze with plenty of nature documentaries and QVC.
Then, about a year ago, I was suddenly cured. I was going to sleep by 10 and waking up at 6 like a proper adult. The change happened when I moved in with a friend – we’ll call her Shmauren – and her very energetic son, who we’ll refer to as Optimus Prime. Living with Optimus Prime was like living with the world’s most effective alarm clock. When he was up, so were you. And it became kind of awesome. I was getting a solid 7-8 hours a night; I was productive in the morning; I was ON TIME TO WORK.
It happened last night. The moment every step-parent-type knows will happen, but wishes never will. The moment I’ve been lucky enough to dodge for 7 months. The “you aren’t my mother” moment. And it just about killed me.
Cal is obsessed with Mario – he has all of the games and toys and clothes. He’s obsessed with finding cheat codes to unlock…things. And, this was something I learned after meeting Cal, people will record themselves playing games, upload them to YouTube, then other people watch them to learn things. I’m not a gamer, never have been, so none of this really makes sense to me, but it’s Cal’s life.
Scott has an older iPod touch that now basically belongs to Cal. He uses it to watch his videos and learn his cheats and…stuff. He’s a good kid, his autism really keeps him locked in on Mario (and now Pokemon as well), we trust him – so we don’t monitor every single video he watches. Which is how all of this got started.