Sunday, October 9, 2016

On Sexual Assault

My mind has been in a very odd place today.  Mainly it has to do with Donald Trump and the "Access Hollywood" footage heard-round-the-world, although I am going to do my best not to make this directly about politics.  Like everyone else, I found Trump's words--and even more than the words, the ease with which he said them--extremely jarring and unsettling.  But it wasn't until I found the tangent news story, about the author who started a movement of millions of women sharing their sexual assault stories, to put faces to the women--no, the victims--like the ones that this man was bragging about being able to "do anything he wanted" to, that my mind went to its dark place.

That particular dark place is there because, sadly, I was able to add an experience of my own.  If my love Joanne were here, she would be able to add hers as well.  I may be the only person she confided it to.

Before, when the story was just about the "hypothetical woman" that was the subject of the 'locker room talk', it was jarring, but at least it was over there.  But by taking me back to that place, now, suddenly, he is talking about me, he is talking about my Joanne.  Now I hear him say that he, through the power of his fame and popularity, can grab my crotch with impunity, and I would be powerless against him.

Unfortunately, experience tells me it's true; even with no more authority than being the children of the head of my church, my abusers had the hopefully-unwitting support of my parents, who at the time characterized my protests about going to evening church services as "the Devil trying to tempt me away from Jesus."  So I have no doubt that the then-celebrity really did have the impunity he believed he had.

I'm watching the debate tonight, and I can tell my point-of-view has been altered.  Where before, I might have seen a 'bully,' tonight I see an abuser, a predator.  I notice him interrupting, domineering, making sure to position himself behind Ms. Clinton, looming in the background as if to use his size and stature to intimidate.

It occurs to me that there's probably really no such thing as a "bully."  All that is is a 'cute' name for an abuser.  "Bullying" is just abuse that, by semantics, is being minimized into something less threatening.

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