I love my wife. I love our daughter. I love my mom.
I love my aunts. I love my cousins. I love my sisters-in-law. I love our niece.
I loved my grandma.
I love my friends. I love my parishioners. I love my neighbors.
I love the scores and scores of teachers, doctors, clerks, nurses, crossing guards, baristas, writers, musicians… all those with whom I’ve crossed paths at some point in my life.
Where would I be without all these women in my life?
These are the people I think of when I read and hear and see politicians making deplorable, unconscionable, hateful, degrading, minimizing, ignorant, misogynistic statements about women.
These are the people I think of, these people whom I love. These people whom I know, these people about whom I care. I hear these statements, I think of all the women in my life And. I. Seethe. With. Anger.
Any and all – be they male or female, politician or religious leader, or anything else – any and all who seek to create a world in which our daughter and all these women are treated by law or by custom as anything less than fully human are my mortal enemies.
I hear these statements that treat women as less that fully human and I want to lay them out so all the world will see their abiding hideousness like Brainwrap did. Twice. That’s right, there are enough such statements to fill two charts and maybe more. Think about that.
I hear these statements and I want the men who made them to be ridiculed, debased, exposed. Like Stephen did. That’s satire at its absolute best: demonstrating beyond a shadow of a doubt that the emperor has no clothes. That’s what comedy is for: empowering the oppressed against the hegemon.
“My name is Marcia. I am 43 years old and I am a rape survivor,” she writes. “I am writing to you because I’ve learned that silence can be deadly for rape survivors when it goes on too long… What I need to say is STOP! Stop using rape as a political weapon, as a chess piece in this game of survivor, as a way to call out your opponent. Stop.”
If you want to hear our stories, the cacophonous voices of those who actually live these truths, then you’ve got to stop speaking for us. You do not speak for me. You do not speak to me—not those of you who say rape is a part of God’s plan, not those of you who say “see, they don’t care about women’s health care.” Your words cut through me. Your words remind me how small my world becomes when the truths of those who have been there fall silent.
And that brought me up short. I love my wife, my daughter, my mom and all the rest and I am still seething with anger. But I don’t want to be part of the problem. I’m going to shut up and try to make space for Marcia and all those who are victims of sexual assault.
Please, read Marcia’s whole letter.
What else should we do to make safe space for survivors to speak safely and honestly?