It is a tragedy of epidemic proportions how many women have personal experiences of being physically and/or emotionally abused by men in their lives. I could add a whole slew of my stories to the sickening long list, but instead I will add only two, EXCEPT I would like to focus on the other kind of men in my life. I want to think about the men who backed me up and made me feel better and tried to keep me whole.
When I was in second grade my abusive and mostly estranged father called my elementary school and demanded to speak with me over the phone. Someone came into my classroom and brought me down to the office where I was handed a phone receiver. On the other end was the man who had terrified me since as far I could remember who I hadn't seen for about two years. He was in tears saying he loved me and demanded that I tell him that I loved him back. I stood there silently unable to move or speak. When I didn't say anything he threatened to kill himself if he didn't hear me say the words he was asking me to say. Except I knew I didn't love the guy, I was scared to death of him. I didn't know what to do so I started to cry and tried to choke out the words that I loved him back. Just then my principal, Mr. Blitz, walked into the office and took the receiver out of my hand. He told my biological father that he was to never phone the school again and if he showed up that he would deal with him himself. I was astounded that anyone could talk back to my biological father, seriously, I didn't know that standing up to him was an option. Here I am, 40 something years later remembering how Mr. Blitz taught me that a man couldn't just do anything because technically he could say he was a "father."
When I was in 7th grade I forgot my health class paper in my homeroom. My health teacher sent me back to fetch it but on the way I crossed paths with a gang of young boys who were heading in the opposite direction. I looked down as the leader of the gang blocked my way saying only "Please let me pass." The leader reached out and grabbed my breasts and then every other boy ran past me grabbing at my chest. I ran to my homeroom, scooped up my paper and then froze on my way back to health class. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know where those boys had gone and if I would see them again on my way back. I tore through the halls as fast as I could and burst into my health class and broke down in tears in the doorway sobbing out the story to the health teacher. He locked the class in the room so he could go get the administration and at first ,my classmates didn't know what to say or do. Soon though, every boy in my class surrounded me to offer words of comfort. They talked about getting revenge on the boys who grabbed at me, how they would protect me and they even joked and made me laugh. I remember sitting there looking at all these boys, who were up until that moment just some guys in my class that I never gave a second thought about and saw that these boys weren't the same as the boys who had just violated me. There were different kinds of boys and these boys in my class cared about other people, they cared about me, they were the good kind of people.
So, in this current world of a pussy grabbing candidate, women who manage to defend him, and men who want to repeal the 19th amendment, what are we to do?
I don't have all of the answers. But I know what I can do every day all day long. I can be the good kind. I can surround myself with others who are the good kind. I know the good kind is out there, you know the good kind is out there, surround yourself. And when I meet someone who is not coming from a place of love and acceptance, I won't participate.
Stand up for everyone's rights. We all have the right to be safe and respected and treated fairly. That means gender, it means race, and sexual orientation, and country of origin and what ever else ridiculous way people use to hate and discriminate against each other. I refuse to participate. I refuse to spread the pain and suffering.