Things Have Changed

So a couple of things happened this week.

Bob Dylan won the Nobel for literature. That was so wonderful it lifted me up and filled me with joy.

And Donald Trump’s history of sexual battery is now the big story of the week. This did not lift me up, but it is filling me with hope.

For a long while, “Things Have Changed” was my favorite Dylan piece: “People are crazy and times are strange/ I’m locked in tight, I’m out of range/ I used to care, but things have changed.” The older I got, the less things bothered me. I cut things out of my life that made me feel like less, embraced the things like Dylan that filled me with joy, and I thought I’d found a level of Zen that would see me out the door.

Then Donald Trump happened.

I was sure he’d be defeated in the primary because he was so vile, but it turned out that when there are sixteen candidates in the field, vile can get you a significant number of pissed-off white men to give you the nomination.

Then he proceeded to violate everything my country is supposed to stand for: He’s racist, anti-immigrant, sexist, and stupid. Any one of those things should have disqualified him but he kept moving up in the polls as racist, anti-immigrant, sexist mouth-breathers in this great nation fell in behind him and made America less great. (Or as he put it, “I love the poorly educated.”)

And then came the second debate. American debates have always had their weird moments–this may be my fave–but this debate had a question that changed everything. Anderson Cooper said, “You bragged that you sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?” and Trump denied it: “I didn’t say that at all.” And then the kicker: “Have you never done those things?” “No, I have not.”

And then the deluge. The thing about that kind of not-quite-rape-but-still-assault crap is that it lives in a twilight zone, that “Oh, big deal, so he touched you without your permission, get over it” zone, the “don’t make a fuss, just move on” place that so many of us have been in. We shove it back into memory and we think we’ve forgotten it, and then . . .

Almost every woman I know has had something like this happen to her, because almost every woman has had this happen to her. And we don’t say anything because it doesn’t do any good, because it’s no big deal, because that’s just guys being drunk or being assholes. We put up with catcalls on the street and comfort ourselves in old age because at least we’re not getting harassed and assaulted any more. It’s just life as a woman. Shrug your shoulders and move on.

What I realized this week, what I think a lot of women realized this week, is that I did not move on. I just shoved every grope into a dark place in my mind and locked the door on it all. And then Anderson Cooper asked the right questions and didn’t stop asking until he got an answer, and a lot of brave women said, “The HELL he didn’t do those things, he did them to me,” and the door just disintegrated. I’m so angry, not just because Donald Trump is a vile and evil human being but because of all the damn men in my past who knew that the most that would happen if they grabbed me was a fist to the nose, that their buddies would laugh and high five them and they’d be “winners” no matter what. There’s a reason most gropers smile when you confront them: They think there’s nothing you can do about it.

Donald Trump is plummeting in the polls because he thinks there’s nothing American women can do about him. But I think he’s unleashed something that’s going to change things. I’m enraged, not just by all the incredibly anti-feminist defenses his people are putting up, but also by so many of the half-hearted condemnations from men who can only see things in the context of their experiences. “As a husband and a father . . .” makes me so mad I could smash the TV. “Until they came for MY women, I wasn’t concerned . . .” How about “As a human being, I’m appalled by this molesting predator and think he should not only be defeated but go down in so many flames that he makes the Chicago fire look like a barbeque.”

Of course, his alt-right base loves this stuff; they’ve started the hashtag “#repealthe19th” because if women didn’t have the vote, Trump would win. (I find this suspect; there are a lot of deplorable men in this country, but there are a lot of good men, too, and I refuse to believe that the majority would vote for an evil human Cheeto.) They’re eating his misogyny up with a spoon, the same way they consumed his racism and fascism (“If I’m elected, I’ll lock Hillary up!”) and religious zealotry and utter inability to see himself and themselves as the nightmares they are. He’s Their Guy because he’s given them a focus: Elect Donald Trump and the world will belong to Poorly Educated White Christian Men Again.

But now Trump has given another group a focus: Women. He’s released so many buried memories that the weight of them is sending him plummeting in the polls. All that repressed rage–“Don’t be angry, sweetie, it makes you less attractive”–isn’t buried any more, it’s pouring out into essays and internet comments and conversations everywhere women gather. Hell, yes, it happened to me, and I was mad then, and I’m still mad, but now I’m not feeling guilty for being mad, now I don’t feel powerless about it, now I’m going to fight back, not just by voting against Trump because that was always a given, but by taking down anybody who says, “That’s just locker room talk,” (no, it isn’t, as any number of athletes and former athletes have stepped up to refute), or “If they were upset about it, why didn’t they say something?” (because saying something always makes things worse for the woman than the man), or “It happened twenty years ago, why get upset about it now?” (because you NEVER FORGET, that’s why, you sexist entitled asshole). I’m even angry with all the men who are saying, “My god, this is vile, I never saw any of this” because it was right there in front of you, it happens all the time, everywhere, and don’t tell me no man you know would do these things because unless there’s a small band of men roaming the world molesting women 24/7 for decades, you sure as hell do know men who do this. You just haven’t noticed because you haven’t had to. It’s not happening to you. And for a long time, when we told you, you laughed. Or you said it was no big deal. Or you patted us on the shoulder and said, “That’s awful, honey” and changed the subject. Because it wasn’t sexual battery it was just guys being guys.

It’s a big deal. And I think it’s an even bigger deal that women are talking about it now everywhere, sharing stories that make us angrier. For every Katrina Pierson making dead-eyed excuses from an alternate dimension there’s an enraged Mary Beth Glenn telling her fellow conservatives that this is a moment of reckoning: “If you can’t stand up for women & unendorse this piece of human garbage, you deserve every charge of sexism thrown at you . . . ”

I hope Glenn is right when she says to the Republicans, “. . . one by one you’ll watch more women like me go, & you’ll watch men of ACTUAL character follow us out the door. And what you’ll be left with are the corrupt masses that foam at the mouth every time you step outside the lines.” I hope this galvanizes the GOP to become a real political party again because the country needs true conservatives for balance, and I hope this changes the national mindset on sexual battery so that my granddaughters will at least be empowered to smack the guy who gropes them while loudly letting everybody in the room know that he’s a predator who should be shamed and derided.

But what I know is that it’s changed me by awakening all that buried rage. I wish that younger me could have fought back more than just smacking the guys who groped me, I wish she hadn’t grown up in a sit-down-and-be-quiet-and-don’t-make-waves anti-female society, but mostly I’m glad that Anderson Cooper asked the right question and Donald Trump gave the wrong answer and that Mary Beth Glenn tweeted from the other side of my political spectrum, and that women everywhere are talking and supporting each other and making speaking out the norm. That’s even better than Dylan getting the Nobel.

I used to pretend I didn’t care, but things have changed.

76 thoughts on “Things Have Changed

  1. If I was a man I would feel so insulted by that “boys will be boys” expectation that I was born to behave badly and can’t control myself. I don’t know why more of them don’t get upset about that.
    I so loved the first ladies speech about this.
    I feel your pain Jenny.

    1. I so much hate “boys will be boys” or “he’s such a boy” even in innocent references to my not quite 7 year old son.

    2. A lot of men really do feel insulted by that sort of “boys will be boys” bull$#^%, but – as one of my friends pointed out – it still behooves us to step up and say so. The sort of men who think this sort of behavior is admirable, enviable, or even normal are not generally the sort who are going to listen to what women have to say about it. They may not listen to other men, either, but at least there’s some chance they might.

      …Which is stupid, but there it is.

      1. Well, peer pressure. A lot of men don’t see women as their peers, but they’re bragging about what they do because they think all men are Billy Bush and will find it admirable or at least entertaining. Not reinforcing the behavior is a big step, but it’s hard because then you’re a buzzkill.

        We need more male buzzkills

      2. And at the very least, the more voices there are, male and female, speaking out against this attitude, the less room there is for the “boys will be boys” rubbish to normalise.

  2. WOW. I just read Mary Beth Glenn’s post.

    Something that is coming out of this Trump mess, is not just that women are talking to one another about being sexually harassed but they are talking to the men in their life about it. Or trying to and that is really hard. If you try, The first few attempts are either defensive (I have never done that) or dismissive (That’s awful. Do you know where I put my cell phone?). But you don’t really say “If the other guys are saying something like this, what do you do? Do you ignore it? Or do you say “I hope that was a joke but it really isn’t funny.” Or do you walk away?” Because bottom line -no pun intended – it won’t really change anything if women are just talking to one another about it. Men need to let other men know this is not okay with them. This Trump kind of talk is not something guys are trained to respond appropriately to either. And most of the men in my life are not into dealing with this kind of crap. And it isn’t happening to them so they let it slide.

  3. Thanks for this. I just watched Michelle Obama’s speech about half an hour ago, so I guess there’s a theme to my internet browsing tonight.

    I’ve never had to deal with unwanted sexual contact, which makes me both lucky and grateful for that luck. My work environment is such that I’m not worried about male colleagues harassing me or behaving in ways that make me feel unsafe. But our office is in a jail. Which means regular exposure to domestic violence and sexual assault probable cause statements. And you learn fast not to read them before you interview a defendant, because if you know what they’re accused of before you talk to them, you’ll want to reach through the window and hit them. And whenever a co-worker (male or female, and it is both) says something like “Why doesn’t she just leave” or casts doubt on a rape victim’s statement, I swallow the anger and speak in a reasonable tone about all the things I learned in Victims’ Services training and criminal justice classes. I like to think it helps, but I know it’s swimming against a very strong current.

    1. Thank you for the work that you do. And good for you for being able to calmly and reasonably explain to people that they’re clueless. Swimming against that current is HARD but it matters. A lot.

  4. There’s a blog on Daily Kos today by a regular about the incident in her life with a celebrity 40 years ago. I think a lot of us over a certain age have a story about being fondled by a stranger or groped and the question is why didn’t we call the cops?

    I was fondled- it wasn’t overly traumatic in one sense because it was a stranger and it was on a public bus and I stamped on his foot as I got up as hard as I could – but why didn’t I scream? Why didn’t I tell the bus driver to call the cops? It never occurred to me that I should make a fuss about it. My mother told me the next time to tell the driver, my grandmother told me to keep a hat pin handy – neither one of them told me it was my fault but no one asked why I didn’t call a cop either.

    On the other hand, I got on the same bus the next day and I wasn’t afraid. Now I had a hat pin and a plan.

    I will be the happiest person on this earth if I know the women who are girls now don’t understand what I’m talking about.

    Off topic sort of – when the oldest niece was about 5, I got her National Velvet because I loved it and she and I and my sister watched it together. And when it comes to the end and they don’t give Velvet the prize, my niece was outraged. She thought this was the dumbest thing ever.

    And my sister and I almost wept. Because when we watched it 35 years before, it never occurred to us that Velvet would get the prize if they knew she was a girl. We already knew by the age of 5 that that was not happening. But my niece lives in a world where of course the girl gets to win.

    That’s the world I want.

    1. I love “a hat pin and a plan.” Every woman, every girl, should have a hat pin and a plan.

      ETA: I may steal that. Is it stealing if I ask permission first?

      1. It’s a gift – take it. If it helps the hat pin had a large pearl on the end of it and was about two inches long.

    2. A few years ago my 60 something mother was talking with my teenage cousin Katie at a family gathering. Mom said she was glad my very athletic cousin was participating in sports at school and that she’d always wanted to but girls weren’t really allowed when she was in school. Katie’s eyes got huge. Girls couldn’t play sports in the 50s?! Why not??!! My mom’s answer was classic – something something stupid men.

      (Incidentally that helped me understand why my naturally athletic mom tried so hard to interest completely unathletic me in sports when I was a girl.)

      1. I always loved my mother’s explanation when I said I wanted to grow up and play for the Washington Senators.

        “They won’t let you.” She didn’t say I couldn’t do it physically, she didn’t say it was silly – she said men won’t let girls play.

        I think that attitude of it’s not you, it’s them helped a great deal.

    3. I teach high school, and am always glad that it’s so hard for my students to wrap their heads around certain parts of Romeo and Juliet. Obviously I get a chuckle out of “Uh why doesn’t she just text him” or “Whoa, didn’t they, like, just meet each other? They’re getting married?” but what really warms my heart is stuff like “Uh, he’s just going to grab her hand out of nowhere? That’s creepy, yo” or “Wait why is Romeo so obsessed with Rosaline? Benvolio’s right, he should move on” or (heartbreaking to explain the answer to) “Why doesn’t Juliet just move out if her parents treat her like that?”

      It’s nice that these things confuse them. It means we’re making progress.

  5. This is brilliantly written. I really think you should submit this to a news website for publication.

    1. Yes. Or someone can post it on FB so we can all share it. I don’t share much but damn, I so want to share this.

    1. She was amazing shouting at a Trump defender on the news who criticized her for using the word “pussy” when she quoted him. She basically said, “You’ll condemn me for quoting him but you’ll defend him for saying it?” It was beautiful.

      1. I was watching that late at night and yelled YES! when she said that. Both dogs came trotting in ready to play. Thank Dog for dogs because they are all that’s getting me and my PTSD funzies through this election cycle.

        Funny thing, my career-military stepdad, who raised me from age 4, always argued my mom down when she said I had to “just accept” something because I was a girl. She tried hard to make a proper lady out of me, she really did. And I can play that part with the pantyhose and which fork to use, etc., when it’s useful to do so because protective camouflage is a tool, like any other. But thank Dog for him or I might have swallowed her line of shit and believed those were my limits.

        Like any other woman, plenty of groping/sexist aggression, much of which I didn’t notice or recognize at the time when I was much younger. But as I got older and got sick of the bullshit, whoo boy. The thing I remember the most clearly from almost all those later encounters is the sheer shock and disbelief on the mens’ faces when I didn’t play along, when I stepped to and they fell back or down when the crazy bitch (because in a patriarchy any female not willing to comply with a man’s wishes is crazy by definition and most definitely a bitch when she fails to be convenient) didn’t play along. When it’s gotten physical I mostly responded with the same level of aggression a homophobic (male) asshole would have done in my position, which I figured was a fairly accurate model considering the critters involved, and that’s been usually enough to end the encounter cold. Coming from a woman though? ZOMG total overreaction from a pretty little white girl like me who should know her place and whose mama clearly didn’t raise her right. I’ve considered “crazy bitch” a compliment for many years now.

        To say that this election process has been triggering (as much as I’m growing to hate that word) is an understatement. But I think the Cheeto from Hell has done the nation a service by dragging the scum to the top and personifying it so well, where we all have to see it and deal with it, where conversations are happening in both private and public spheres, where sexual assault and other abuses of power can’t be quietly swept back under the rug where they’ve lived for millennia. What scares me now is the possibility that the momentum will be lost once the election is over. Being quiet has never served us, even if it’s felt like survival in the moment.

  6. This is the best summary of and commentary on all this that I’ve read. Thank you.

    This reminds of another Turing point – Anita Hill. After she went public my Gram was really judgemental of AH for speaking out because these things just happen. And it turned out that she (my Gram) had been harassed at work and she eventually quit. I was in my early 20s (iirc) at the time and I was SO shocked – probably as or more shocked that she thought these things just happen as I was that she’d been harassed.

    I go between being hopeful that our culture is slowing changing for the better and that by telling our stories and using our anger we can make more change and being in complete dispair over how little has changed in 25 years.

    1. Supposedly Alan Simpson’s wife is still angry at him about Anita Hill.

      I love this big well known conservative senator and his wife is still saying how could you do that 25 years later.

    2. Twenty-five years is one generation. Against millennia of abuse and oppression that we are all just sick (AND tired) of, that ain’t nearly fast enough. Nor is it enough time to change the mindset of the multiple generations who are alive right now. But that mindset of female < male is changing, has been changing for hundreds of years. We are making progress. So much further to go, yes. But the overall rate of change in human cultures all over the world has also been accelerating for hundreds of years, which allows more and more space at the most fundamental level for women to be considered fully human. Is there backlash by those who fear their power base eroding? Sure. It's human to feel fear at change. It's also human to not remain cowed by it. As a species we are highly adaptable and I will remain convinced that the men of our species will catch up.

  7. Sigh. I’m dealing with passive-aggressiveness at work. Or microaggressions. Or both. Not sure what to do: go hard, file grievance or go soft and perturb the system with verbally, repeatedly identifying all the ways I’m being victimised to everyone in the system.

    I can’t ignore. If I do, others will suffer similarly later. Am willing to take the hits if it elicits change.

    I’m pretty smart. I don’t waste my smarts toeing any company line. I am quite unpopular. I’m fine with that.

    Just read something about “don’t assume malicious intent when it could be stupidity.” Trouble is, the two do coincide a lot.

    1. Or ignorance. With microagressions, I prefer to speak with the person directly as soon as I am able to point out what was done and the offense. Sometimes it is all it takes for that person to change.

      1. Yeah, I have to be (and want to be) nice to the high school students I work with, so I usually go with “Wow, I’m sure you don’t MEAN to sound racist, but…” or “Um, if I didn’t know you better, hearing you say that would make me think you were kind of racist.”

        When I do that I’m assuming best intentions and/or stupidity, rather than maliciousness, the first time. Unless they’re way out of line and I have to go nuclear.

        Whatever you decide, Sure Thing, good luck–and thank you for fighting.

  8. In Catholic high school in the 1970s we traveled by train to school every day. Ages 13-18 usually. This reminds me of the self defense tactics we MINORS had to go through to get to school to avoid the groping of the well dressed businessmen riding the train. There was always one or another and they were very sneaky about it. I want to tell my younger self that these tactics should have included at least screaming at the top of my lungs and more than just ramming someone with a foot or an elbow. It was a hard and bitter lesson with which we young women had to deal on a daily basis. At the time it was just something we had to deal with. This was inexcusable but common.

  9. I want to post a link to this on my Facebook page but my iPad isn’t cooperating. Does anyone know how to make that work?

  10. Really well said, thank you so much. I liked the part about getting older and not worrying anymore as that is where I am and believe me, it’s been lovely. I first worked in an office in 1961 after graduating high school and starting in 1962 worked for years and years in various government (Army, Air Force, Forest Service) offices. I had to quit a job I loved and was good at to get away from a predatory supervisor in 1965 and I still feel anger over it, that I wasn’t believed and so felt I had to leave. You put my thoughts into words and I thank you for that.

  11. I have a friend who has a theory that all this slime that’s emerging is a pushback reaction by a small(ish) number of terrified and angry people who are seeing their misogynistic, racist, narrow world view under threat because there is real progress actually being made. The more progress we make, the louder the voices against progress get.

    I wish to believe her theory, but it’s hard some days when the aggressive and hate-filled voices seem to be everywhere.

    1. I think she’s right. And they’re definitely in the minority because Trump’s getting walloped in the polls.

    2. I’m hoping it’s an extinction burst:

      “An extinction burst will often occur when the extinction procedure has just begun. This usually consists of a sudden and temporary increase in the response’s frequency, followed by the eventual decline and extinction of the behavior targeted for elimination.” (per Wikipedia, and also the psych teacher next door–we often talk about extinction bursts in student misbehavior)

  12. I am so with you on this. In my 20’s, I was groped and ogled and fended off advances from people who wouldn’t take “No way!” for an answer. It creeps you out and it restricts your world. You get past it, but it kind of scars you inside with the fear that you brought the treatment on by something you did or said. And Trump just screams that kind of serial predator vibe. Before the Access Hollywood video emerged, all you had to do was look at and listen to the man, and you just knew he was like that. Which makes his blanket claims that he never ever did such a thing just laughable.

    But at the same time, I am having a problem with the 6pm news commentary that keeps harping on the idea that MEN shouldn’t do x or y or z to WOMEN, as the answer to male trash talking, sexual aggressiveness, domestic violence, rape or what have you. I can’t help but think that the way Trump treats women isn’t really that different from the way Trump treats men that he’s trying to dominate. His bullying and verbal contempt and name calling, as well as his litigiousness and thin retaliatory skin are all the hallmarks of someone who HAS to be the victor and the target of applause in every situation, or else. And he sucks up and kicks down, as a matter of routine. Which is not pleasant to be around, whether it’s a big, powerful sneering rich guy acting that way, or a person of either gender in a position of power who takes the the trouble to stomp on someone weaker — a woman, a child, an animal, an immigrant, a prisoner, or whoever. Seems to me that scummy, manipulative, predatory behavior is scummy to a great extent because of that power imbalance, and not just when the victim is female.

    1. I think the reason this is getting traction is that it crosses a line for some in his end of the political spectrum. They could accept his racism, his xenophobia, his fascism because they were safe from it, they’re white. But now he’s victimizing white women. That’s too much.

      The man has been vile from the beginning, starting with saying that a judge was biased because he was Mexican–that alone is a slur–even though the judge had been born American. Then he went on and doubled down over and over again, on Muslims, on refugees, on African Americans, every non-white demographic he could find to blame for his troubles which perfectly echoed the petulant entitlement of his base: he’s a white guy, shouldn’t he own the world? And then like so many other men, he extended that to women and FINALLY crossed a line . . .

      So I think to a great extent we’re talking about women here because it’s working. Donald Trump, racist, was still getting backing from the Republicans. Donald Trump, the guy who will molest your wives and daughters (not women in general, the women who belong to a man), that guy some of the Republicans can’t support. That guy is attacking white men through their women, which is the way men have attacked other men for centuries. Rape isn’t about sex, it’s about power, in particular who holds it over women, so the ability to have a lot of women is a like the ability to have a lot of money. It’s status. And the ability to take somebody else’s property, to cheat another guy, is very much that pseudo-macho mindset.

      Plenty of people were appalled before because he’s a vicious bully, a xenophobe, a racist, a misogynist. The white women thing just tipped him into the abyss. It’s nauseating that it took that to turn so many against him, but at least this time, it’s sticking.

      1. I remember in a college political theory class we were reading something about war-fare in ye olden days. And this author was saying that men would put up with a great deal of suffering under a ruler so long as three different things didn’t happen, and one of them was their women not being attacked/ taken. And this one guy in class interpreted that as saying men will protect who they love. And immediately five women’s hands shot in the air because we read it as being about power. And given the context, we were right.

        I think the fact that that guy misinterpreted the text shows that he’s probably a good guy. But it also shows that by college, many women have had to come to grips with rape and bullies in a way that many college men haven’t had to. And that imbalance of experience and knowledge feeds into a culture where women and some men are sexually assaulted, but very few rapists are actually convicted.

      2. Now I think I finally understand why this was the shark-jumping moment for Trump’s followers. I didn’t get it. I said, “How is this considered worse than racism?”

        My husband replied, “How is this worse than charges of statutory rape?”

        I think you’re right. His followers just didn’t really care about the black/Mexican/Asian/Jewish/incestuous/financially illiterate comments, as long as he was leaving “their” women alone.

        Thanks for clarifying.

        1. I know, it’s horrible.
          On the brighter side, the Dems are hammering the Rep who are saying, “I have wives and daughters, so this is where I draw the line.”
          It reminds me of that Holocaust priest. “They came for the Jews, and I did not protest because I wasn’t a Jew . . .

  13. I was groped in the hallway at school in sixth grade. I had nothing to grope yet, mind you, but I was shocked. We moved from a sleepy sort-of-Southern city to a Midwest college town that year, and the difference between how 11 year old boys acted there vs at home was mind-bending. We all got groped pretty much daily through middle school, and then we moved home again to start my freshman year and it never happened again.

    And no one bothered to tell the teachers, we knew nothing would change. It helped to be small and very fast, and develop very sharp elbows, but we were on our own, and we knew it. I had forgotten it, too. Thanks, really, for reminding me.

    A retweet from someone I know tonight said something like “My 10 year old hit a kid at school for calling her a bitch. Do I punish her or give her ice cream?”

    1. Give her ice cream.

      When Mollie was in the third grade, she was little and blonde and fragile looking, and this kid ran up to her on the playground yelling “Rape,” hoping to freak her out. She came home and told me she just looked at him, refusing to move, and said, calmly, “Fuck off,” and he was so shocked he left her alone. She got ice cream. That wasn’t the last time some guy tried something on her and it wasn’t the last time she faced a guy down, but it was the first time and I was very proud. My mother raised me to be a lady and it left me vulnerable. I raised my kid to be an angry feminist, and it didn’t stop her from being harassed but it did give her permission to be angry instead of afraid, or at least to be angry enough to overcome the fear.

      1. Some boys in the neighborhood (we were eight or nine I think) asked me if I wanted them to rape me.

        I didn’t know what the word meant but they were rolling over laughing so on principle I beat them up.

        I didn’t get ice cream but I didn’t get punished either.

        1. That reminds me of how much I hated the deal (in all the US I lived in, through the 1990s) that, as a Girl, I had to pretend complete ignorance of all suggestive terms, but also avoid them as completely as if I had “put a fence around the law”. So of course guys — grown men some of them — could amuse themselves trying to set verbal traps.

          Thesaurus 1, assholes 0, but it took a lot of work and it *wasn’t fair*.

          1. It was that kind of crap that made me decide in my twenties that all men were fourteen-year-old boys.
            It got better in my thirties, mainly because the men I knew got older, too.

    2. Depends. Did he hit the ground?

      Okay, did they punish her at school? Did they punish him?

      If they punished her and not him, then ice cream. If they punished both of them, tell her its a word men use when they don’t know how to say “Wow, you are so much better at everything than I am – I’m in awe.”

    3. Both. Reward her for not taking it and teach her a better method of retaliation. Of course, whether there is a better method depends upon the people in authority at the school.

  14. If the Orange Menace (a friend calls him Trumplstilskin) has done anything good–something which seems unlikely in the extreme most days–it is that his horrible behavior has finally got the country talking about this. Loudly. For that, and that alone, I am grateful.

    Did you all see the tweets about women talking about incidents of abuse? So powerful. So disturbing. But finally, talking about it.

    I hope, if nothing else, we no longer feel alone.

  15. So much yes that this made me cry.

    I’m a human. This has happened to me, but I said nothing.
    I teach kindergarten now. Every day in the lineup for lunch I say things firmly like, no, do not put your hands on her. You did not ask if that was okay with her.
    Because if five year olds aren’t told, we get adults who don’t know.

    1. Hear hear. I remind the high school kids “Hey, it’s rude to touch someone who doesn’t want to be touched.” I’m working really hard to police to others that my toddler’s “No” is an acceptable answer if someone wants a hug or kiss from him, including saying “that’s okay, you don’t have to hug if you don’t want to,” even when he says it to me. My hope and dream is that he’ll grow up to be a boy and a teen and a man who is totally baffled by people who think it’s OK to touch other people without consent, or to keep playing if the other person isn’t having fun. I hope he’ll get to have a teacher like you, Lora, who makes sure he knows, and all of his classmates too.

  16. Paaraphrased from interviews of Trump supporters, heard on the radio this morning:

    A woman said: All those women are lying. He never did any of that. And no, he doesn’t lie on purpose, he’s just so intent on fixing the country.

    A man said: I don’t care what he did. He’ll save the country.


    1. I know. There was a woman in Home Goods the other day wearing a Trump sweatshirt, laughing about how he was going to win.
      Forget for the moment that she’s supporting Trump and just be amazed by the bubble these people are living in. It’s Romney’s “Unskew the Polls” all over again.

  17. In January 2015, I was at a writers’ retreat with a bunch of friends. Over dinner the first night, the topic of Bill Cosby came up. By then several, though not all, of his accusers had come forward, as I recall. But my writer friends said that they either didn’t believe the accusers or felt like there wasn’t enough proof to judge. The fact that half a dozen women told similar stories didn’t faze them–the accusers were just jumping on the bandwagon, willing to say anything to get attention.

    And in a way I kind of got it. We all grew up thinking of Bill Cosby as this funny, avuncular, nice guy. So it required a serious mental reset to cast him as a sexual predator.

    For many women, our default is to believe men over women in these situations–even when the preponderance of evidence falls on the women’s side of the story. And I think that’s part of the problem.

  18. The longer this goes on, the more it seems to me that the cult mentality has grown for some people. When adults seek a personality that will be their “father” and make everything okay for them, rational, critical thinking flies out the window. I keep seeing parallels to Germany in the 1930s and the people who followed Jim Jones to Guyana in the 1970s. When you abdicate control over your own life and want someone else to make decisions for you, scary things can happen.

    The minute someone says that they are the only one to save us all, they lose me completely.

  19. One of my newly favorite authors Joel Shepherd (he writes Science Fiction) has a term Compulsive Narrative Syndrome (CNS).

    It is where someone is so stuck on their own narrative that anything to the contrary is just static and it doesn’t register. As he has written it, it as a neurological disorder found 400 years after diaspora.

    Most people, unless trained not to, pander to their biases and only read/ watch what they agree with, media sites (and social media) that filter content to an individual’s preferences enhances that bias. This means that many people now are potentially only seeing/ reading information that is exactly what they agree with, there is no opposing view.

    When I see people who blindly follow someone or an ideal, despite all the evidence that they are (it is) not the best choice/ right choice, I have to wonder whether CNS exists already.

    Particularly when talking about religious fundamentalists, and seen in the examples of Trump followers…

    1. If talking to my mother about abortion rights is anything to go on, yes, it already exists. I just can’t recall the contemporary term for it.

      Mind you, she became a nurse in the late 50s, and was thrilled by Roe v. Wade. She’d seen at first hand for over a decade what happens to women when they have to self-abort with no medical support or resources. And yet today she adores Fox News and gets all huffy about Planned Parenthood, etc. When I ask her if she wants to go back to that time of coat hangers & horror, she says of course she doesn’t. I tell her she needs to pick one and she just sputters at me. That’s when the static kicks in.

  20. I am new to this group and I must say how amazing you all are to write so eloquently and passionately (despite autocorrect!). I am gratified to find a group of people who relect my own views, not to mention advice on writing!

    Thank you Jenny for gathering us together!

  21. Wow. I already admired your writing. But HellYes! We are done being ashamed. Done pretending it didn’t happen. I hope women CRUSH the misogyny and flatten the racism. Every woman I know was completely creeped out by the stalking onstage. I am not looking forward to Wednesday’s debate, but I am definitely looking forward to November 9th.

  22. “And we don’t say anything because it doesn’t do any good, because it’s no big deal, because that’s just guys being drunk or being assholes.”

    Also, we don’t speak up because it’s HIGHLY likely that we’ll only get punished, fired, disbelieved, Internet shamed…and meanwhile nothing happens to the guy at all.

    1. Oh, wonderful.
      And we only have to wait a year . . . ARGH.
      It’s okay. I’ll just go watch the first one again.


Comments are closed.