Tuesday, October 11, 2016
About that video....
Well. That last one brought me up short when I found myself writing it in my journal this morning. That, in a nutshell, is the story of my life. No one wanted to hear what I had to say when I spoke out about being sexually assaulted. That has been the story of too many women's lives, to be honest, and what I want to say now is this: it's not going to be that way anymore, because many of us have found a way to speak out that works.
It's amazing to watch so many women telling their stories and BEING HEARD FINALLY. Sorry for the all-caps, and yes I know it's like shouting online, but that's what has happened. Read the New York Times article linked to above: 27 million women spoke out about the sexual assaults they endured and the world finally heard them. Before that, a young woman in California wrote an open letter to the man who raped her and Vice President Biden wrote back. When he said, "I believe you. It is not your fault," he was speaking to one young woman in particular, but millions of us read in his letter the words we've been waiting a lifetime to hear.
To me, that's amazing, since this is not the way it happened for me, as a girl of 14 who came forward to report a sexual assault. I've written about that before (here) and I am so glad to see what is happening now. Perhaps this is the silver lining in this whole sorry episode: that Donald Trump has actually brought about a change for the good, despite himself, merely by acting as a trigger that set off a powder keg he didn't know he was sitting on.
And, yes, I know I titled this post "About that video..." but I'm not going to talk further about Trump and what he and that slimy guy Billy Bush said to each other eleven years ago. Everyone knows that part and the fallout, political and otherwise, that came out of it. A lot of people also know the outpouring of objections that showed up on Twitter and Facebook last Friday night to the use by media organizations of adjectives like "lewd" and "vulgar" to describe a tape in which a man admitted that he sexually assaulted women.
As if the use of nasty language is the crime here. As if we need to protect people so they won't hear curse words, by bleeping them out, but can turn a blind eye to the fact that this man said he'd assaulted women - because, when you're a star, you can get away with it.
No more. Thank God for social media, which has helped ordinary people to shine a light on the abuses of power that have plagued our world for the entire history of humanity. So many folks denigrate the use of Twitter and Facebook and the other social media platforms as "not real life" and "avoiding real relationships," but I can tell you that I felt supported by many, many people through these media this weekend in ways that I've never felt in "real life."
Social media brings people with common concerns together and empowers them, as a group, in ways that could not be easily accomplished before we had these communication tools. Today we are celebrating the International Day of the Girl, an event led 100% by youth to shed a light on the right of every girl for education, a safe living environment and freedom from abuse. When I sat down to write this post and saw that today was the day that had been designated to speak out for girls all around the world, it encouraged me to add my own voice to the chorus. In 2016, I can finally say that I do not feel alone in this fight any longer. So, thank you to all the young women who told their stories this weekend: you showed by your example what it means to have courage to speak the truth.