This was originally written in a response to the 2016 American Presidential election – January 25th 2017
This is why it matters to me:
What I learned…
As a writer, I have been at a loss to coherently express how the election of a man who has bragged about sexually assaulting women, has an ego bigger than Texas and is narcissistic to his core, has profoundly affected my sense of all things I thought I knew.
It has opened my eyes to the endemic misogyny still rampant within our culture that many women, including myself have learned to circumnavigate as part of being…a woman. Trumps election has pulled the curtain back and exposed an ugly truth, the dark underbelly within our society. By electing Trump into office it has seemingly rewarded and normalised misogynistic behaviour. I have one girlfriend who actually vomited on election night. Many women who have been sexually abused have taken this hard, including me.
I learned at an early age I was a pretty child and I got attention by being ‘cute’.
I learned a girl was either pretty or smart, and as society considered me pretty – I assumed I wasn’t smart.
I learned when I came home in tears after being assaulted for the first time aged 9 – it was my fault as I shouldn’t have been in that play-park.
I learned when I was 10 when I fell and broke my arm running away from a boy who was trying to forcibly kiss me – it was just playground antics.
I learned when I was 11 when the same boy pulled me into a cornfield walking back from school and sexually assaulted me in front of my peers – I was a slut.
I learned when I was 14 when three boys dragged me into the bushes and held me down and sexually assaulted me – I was seeking attention and didn’t know how to share.
I learned when I was 17 it wasn’t rape when my boyfriend decided it was okay to share me with his friends because I was drunk.
Then I assumed it was my fault when I was slipped a drug and while paralysed but still conscious I was carried into a bedroom and raped by two men.
I have learned to smile at the wolf whistles, laugh off the derogatory remarks, the physical invasion of my space, the sexual harassment.
I learned when an anonymous sexually threatening note left on my windscreen at University turned out to be a beloved member of staff – and was told by a respected mentor if I pressed charges it would make things difficult.
I learned when I was pregnant that gaining weight was unacceptable and piggy noises became the soundtrack to my pregnancy.
I also learned that gaining weight was a great tool to minimise male objectification.
Something happened to me on November 8th 2016 – something deep and profound – something inside me irrevocably broke – a realisation as crystal clear as Dorothy discovering that the mighty Wizard of Oz was a tiny fraud hiding behind a curtain.
I am awake!!! And once you are really awake…it can never go back to the way it was before.
THIS IS NOT OKAY!!!
I have spent too long trapped in the shadows of my guilty silence.
It is time to rally my BRAVE!!!