I said yesterday that I feel like the world is one giant trigger alert right now, so consider this mine at the top of another post about Todd Akin, his evil and dangerous views, the ripple effect that I see throughout his political party (and, I can only therefore assume, a chunk of our society, as well), and above all, a desire I feel to wrap every woman I know and don't who has ever suffered sexual violence up in my arms to safety, if they would accept that from me.
I wasn't going to say anything about it here, but I can't stop thinking about it, and I want to, because I don't really know who deserves our advocacy, voice, solidarity, and love more than sisters known and unknown who have suffered the worst kind of physical violation, sometimes over a period of years? I do not know who. I go to Violence Unsilenced -- a site my friends have built, lovingly, on the words of many such women and men. I go to read and I leave a few words. I don't know when I started, or why I keep coming back, as distractible as I am. I think because it's the least I can do? Because I see the people who write these horrifying testimonies to survival and strength and courage -- some of the most honest, powerful, and certainly strongest and most important words on the internet -- come back and thank people, genuinely say that it helped to hear what people had to say.
It is, truly, the very least I can do.
Likewise, I have read and read and read this week, post after post, news story after news story, tweet after tweet after tweet about Rep. Akin's statements. I feel sick and obsessed. I can't stop reading and I want to stop reading, but I feel like who am I to stop reading? I feel like the least I can do is bear witness to people who are stepping up and saying YOU DO NOT DEFINE ME OR WHAT HAPPENED TO ME, MAN. STOP. You don't know SHIT ABOUT MY STORY, JUST LIKE YOU DON'T KNOW SCIENCE OR INTEGRITY.
By the time Mike Huckabee opened his huge, never-shutting-up, nugget-munching mouth (I do not like Mike Huckabee, at all. He is another evil, dangerous person) yesterday to announce that he had real, live actual proof of human beings produced from rape who had contributed greatly to society? I was sitting outside of the place where I was picking up my dinner, and I laid my head on the steering wheel, not because I was being dramatic for a change, but because it actually hurt and I was overwhelmed with sadness and frustration.
Did he ask those people (the ones who were still alive, anyway) if he could name-check them in this context? Did he call them up after his intern found them through the Google and ask them if they were cool with this information being shared, not because it's anything to be ashamed of, but because it was highly charged, and it was their story to share and not his to make a rhetorical pawn?
Did he understand the hubris that it takes to use the names of human beings conceived through rape to advance his political message?
I was guessing no, already. And just like every other time I heard some ridiculous, wrong, news this week, faces flashed in front of my eyes, of people I love who have survived rape, who have rebuilt their lives or who have, in one case, been killed in the immediate aftermath, so no she couldn't.
I want every woman who has been raped who is listening to this twisted, sad, critical saga unfold from their television screens, computers, smart phones, and social circles to be protected from the exhaustion and emotion of hearing these uneducated, sick, uncaring fools talk and everyone else weigh in, even in support. I am devastated that we have reached a place in our cultural and political landscape where this is what we have to make women experience to prove that in spite of hundreds of years of progress, we live with the threat of Dark Ages mentality around every corner.
I am pissed off that our troops die every day in war zones and there is no room to talk about it becauase we are embroiled in the shocking, baffling concept that our elected officials consider women chattel and would make laws for no reason other than to set us back whence we came.
I am enRAGED that so many people I know who identify as conservative bleat about the economy and cannot put their megaphones down to hear the reality that awaits their daughters, sisters, lovers, and -- most confusingly, I admit it -- THEMSELVES, if these people continue to advance their views.
When did oppression become acceptable again?
I want women who have been raped, who have suffered the ultimate violation of their bodies and minds, at the same time, to go only as far as they feel they can reasonably go now in disclosing or reliving their own stories out loud. Maybe they have done it, and they don't want to do it again right now. Maybe they are going through something else and the compounding of trauma is too much. Maybe they are attending to their lives and trying to work or get divorced or buy a house or plant a garden. Maybe they are busy and were operating under the assumption that you, sir, chosen by the citizens of your state to represent them, were not a walking, talking, uneducated trigger.
I don't want the women who don't feel ready, or who feel unable, or who feel done with it all, to feel like they need to speak up and share anything, while at the same time I feel grateful for the ones who do have the resources now to do so.
I think the only good that can possibly come out of this -- besides not letting Akin or anyone of his mindset be elected, although I have to express my fear that, like ants, when he is removed another one, potentially worse, will pop up from whatever factory they're made in -- is that we understand again the gravity of speaking up. We get better used to calling bullshit on abusive talk and regressive systems.
I think there are probably women out there who have been carrying their stories around for a very long time, who felt motivated to share in the interest of educating people, not just about rape, but about the dangers of sitting by while people who would demean something so horrible are being interviewed on purpose on television, as authorities and public servants.
I know there are. I am not one of them. I have never been raped. I have never had this experience. It has happened to people I love, however. It has happened to women today, women I don't know, and will never. It will continue to happen and to be excused, apparently, so we do what we must do. For many reasons, including what I have seen unfold in recent months, and, most critically, this week, I can only commit myself openly as an ally for the rest of my life. This has gotten out of hand.
The "War on Women" is not a figment of the dirty liberal imagination or a fabrication of the Obama administration. That is wrong. Moving forward, how can we best help ourselves, and people who have suffered already? That is the only question I'm concerned about right now, besides saving the women of Missouri, and ourselves, from this kind of perverted governance.
If you are a survivor of domestic violence, sexual abuse, or rape, you may find supportive resources at Violence Unsilenced here. You may read survivor stories here (please pace yourself, and be supported in some way, survivor or no.) and posts this week on their Facebook page. (For all the craziness, it has spurred some beautiful writing, and what I believe to be hope, community, and healing around this issue for survivors. I still wish it had happened in a different way, however, but I am a curmudgeon. :))
A favorite conservative trope is "taking our country back." It hasn't gone anywhere, and neither have many of us. We are still here, living our lives, facing our traumas, and, in the best of circumstances, supporting each other the best we can. We cannot allow untruths, abusive belief systems, harmful legislation, and insidious or explicit violence against women, to continue. We have truly, in many ways, come too far.
If you are a survivor of any kind, I support you and salute you as I always have. If you are an ally, like me, I encourage you to speak up, particularly if you are a man, or know a man who may be encouraged to share his voice on this important issue. Hate and pain kill our hearts, our communities, our families, and our individual selves more than anything else.
Thank you for supporting people who are trying to keep and make things better for all of us, especially those who need our help the most from day to day.