It is 38 days until the next U.S. congressional midterm election. There was no post Friday.
I carried the following with me all day. It was a 15-hour day, not atypical for end-of-season in tourism work, so I had plenty of time for it to steep. However, I’m certain I cannot do it justice.
An old friend – someone with whom I worked some 20 years ago but didn’t ever know that well and who is now a Facebook friend – posted her incredibly poignant #WhyIDidntReportIt story on the social media platform, starting with the deep statement, “It’s time. Be kind.”
I have no intention of itemizing a remarkably well-written list of offenses committed against her by a series of men. She mentioned two instances where guys threatened her with guns, and how she pretty much stopped speaking for two years, and how she had not been able to hold it together to finish college, and … and … and …
As often as we’ve heard women come forward with such stories, from the #MeToo movement to #WhyIDidntReportIt, we really, really must admit there is a problem. Not only is it real, but it’s gargantuan. Seriously, men, you don’t need to read my friend’s statement. Ask women dear to you; odds are you’ll find stories you had no idea existed.
It is definitely way past time for men to “man up.” Not only must we control ourself and grant women the respect they deserve, but it’s time for all of us to rain down holy hell on the weak men among us – those with whom we work, play or … yes … worship – who take pleasure in recounting their sexual conquests. We must tell them when they’re wrong. We should do whatever we can to communicate it is sinful, evil and dehumanizing to force oneself upon another person.
My friend, after listing several reasons for not reporting the assaults, added this:
“Because of the stories I still can’t tell.”
My heart broke yet again. All this … and even more she is not yet able to talk about.
My friend is a courageous, amazing woman.
She still deals with assaults committed decades ago. Then she decided it might help other women if she spoke out.
I love your bravery, my young friend. May it help you find peace. May your tormentors squirm under the pain of a righteous gaze as they try to hide a horrendous past.