This is not a political post. Not really. I read somewhere that if what you are writing terrifies you, it is usually the stuff worth sharing. A couple of weeks ago the Trump “grab the p*ssy” recording came out and there was a lot of talk on the news and social media about sexual assault.
There were opinions, deflections and finger pointing. There were also many women who came out on social media to share stories of their own experience with sexual assault. There was some healthy dialogue about the power of words and those that downplayed the meaning as well. I consider myself very quiet on the political front. But there was something that kept nagging me to write. I kept grappling with how I could write a post that wouldn’t incite any hostility. I’m not up for a fight. I like confrontation about as much as I like politics. Then I thought, this really isn’t political. This is human. This isn’t really even just a women’s issue. The issue of words and power affect all of us. It speaks to a person’s right to feel safe. It is a dignity issue and one that I was willing to fight for in my own way by sharing my own small truth.
What Trump’s recording has done perfectly is to uncover a mentality that still exists. By deflection, by pointing fingers somewhere else, we miss the opportunity to address a real issue. No matter what side of the political spectrum you are on, the truth is, even “just words” are damaging. I know that I am not writing mind blowing stuff here, but it is my way of shining my little light with what bravery I have. My guess is if you speak with the majority of abuse survivors, childhood and adult, they might tell you that the manipulation starts with the words. The breaking down of power, by words. The cohersion, by words. The humiliation, by words. The threat to violence, by words.
Pointing to the “other” always pulls us away from where the awareness should be. Always. Away from our center. Away from what we know to be the truth. And conveniently, away from reality sometimes. A facebook friend, whom I haven’t seen in over 20 years, felt it was appropriate to send political videos to me via private message. It was never personal, like hey Amy, check out this point of view. It was video after video that I mostly ignored. No harm, no foul. Until the one that made me so angry I started to cry. It was a video of a man claiming that he felt it is justified to have a sexual relationship with a 12 year old girl. The video was attempting to depict a Muslim with an Islamic ideology. I felt my heart drop and then start to beat wild which is always my signal of real injustice. It’s my Libra superpower. I felt deeply the injustice of the video, yes, but also of the injustice of an even greater reality. I wanted to blast back, to rant and yell and cry. Instead I just politely asked him to stop sending me videos.
I thought over and over about how quick we are to point out the problem within another’s ideology. Them against us. And all that kept going through my head was 1 in 4.
Last year I took a three month training course at the Women’s Center in Danbury. It was a thoughtful and heartbreaking introduction into the world of domestic violence and sexual assault. But there was one class in particular that I barely got through. I saw it on the syllabus and I dreaded it from day one. Childhood abuse. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. Right here. In this country. I don’t have the answers to how to make it stop. But words matter. How we speak matters. I remember leaving the course feeling defeated. I finished the training knowing that I probably don’t have the toughness it takes to work personally with these kids. I was just coming to terms with my own experiences.
I am thankful for that course. That course finally got me to therapy, which finally got me to talk about the things I was afraid to say out loud. It helped me come to the conclusion that I have had to come to over and over in my life. I don’t have the control I want. I can’t have the guarantees that I want. But I know as well, that over and over again, I come back to hope. To love. To understanding my experience as a human and spiritual being.
Trump has said things that made the uneasiness in me rise up just a little bit. I see a man who doesn’t know much about women. Or at least he is unaware of how sacred we are. And how powerful.
I think that almost everything that plays out in this world is an opportunity for us to grow. If it brings out our aggression, we can address that. If it brings out our hate, our sadness, then that. Someone posted that the women who support a leader who condones abortion will have to answer to the Almighty. I know that person was just following their truth. But I felt so proud of my humility at that moment. I am so sure that the divinity I hold so sacred has no need for me in the handing out of God’s condemnation. Our thoughts, our words and our love gives us opportunity at every turn to grow up, to grow more heart-centered and free from fear. That’s my work, at least. I know it is.