Friday, September 21, 2018

Here we go again ....


I remember Anita Hill’s public crucifixion.  How men sat and judged, humiliated, belittled, and eviscerated her as witness after witness (men) dragged her character through the mud.  It was a public shaming equal to a lashing.  It was wrong and unjust what they did to her.  BUT they confirmed Clarence Thomas … the Justice who NEVER speaks.  And Hill’s life was left in shambles. 

A few days ago I read an excerpt of Sally Field’s new memoir.  Sally Field, a brilliant, two-time Oscar winner who describes how Burt Reynolds (RIP), demeaned her, made her feel less than, was jealous of her success to the point that she hid the parts of herself that made her who she was in order to save his ego.  It happens all the time.  Women hiding their light under a bushel so that her man can look good.

I read Jane Fonda’s memoir years ago.  Also a brilliant actress.  Jane’s mother committed suicide when she was a little girl by slitting her own throat.  Think about that.  When you’re a little girl and your mother, despite the fact that she gave you life, takes her own life.  What that says to a little girl who needs her mommie is that not even YOU are ENOUGH to keep me here.  I’d rather die.  That shit goes deep.  Jane Fonda did not get the love she deserved.  When she married Roger Vadim she allowed a woman into their bed …. to keep him.  It was what he wanted.  He never asked her what she wanted.  He never asked her if a threesome would make her feel cheap or unloved, or disrespected.

Women are such amazing creatures.  We can take emotional pain.  We can take physical pain.  We run households and corporations usually at a cost much greater to our emotional health than any man.  We are nurturers.  Lovers.  Teachers.  We carry burdens silently.  We cry when no one is around so that no one will be bothered by our pain.  We have faced indignities, sexual harassment, dismissal.  Next time you’re having a conversation with a group of people, stop and pay attention to how many of the men will actually listen to a woman when she has an opinion about something important like politics. 

I remember as a child watching my mother always eat last.  I always felt sorry for her because of that.  She had to do everything and serve everyone before she could sit down and eat.  At family gatherings the women waited on the men, and then after they were served and the children were served, they ate.  And then they cleaned up.  Washing and drying dishes, putting everything away, cleaning the kitchen, wiping the counters and sweeping the floor while the men and the children were relaxing and watching T.V.  I think it was then that I decided I didn’t want to be a “wife.”  I didn’t want to have to do everything.  And believe me, I paid the price for choosing a different path. 

I am no one famous.  However, I was very independent, especially for being raised in a Catholic, Latin home in the 1970’s.  I moved out of the house when I was 22.  At 30 I bought a condo in the late 1980’s.  I worked in the legal field, made my own money and supported myself.  I traveled and had a great life.  When a man came into my life, he would eventually leave me because in their words they felt “they had nothing to offer me.”  How sad that they never realized that love, friendship, and caring mean more than money. 

If you are talented, or smart, you are punished.  If you are financially independent, you are punished.  If you don’t back down, you are punished.  And if you call out someone who has tried to rape you, you are ruined. 
Many years ago, I was dating someone I really liked.  I was still living at home at the time.  He would come by for no reason to bring me flowers.  He took me out on really nice dates.  He bought me gifts.  I was thrilled because as much as I was into him, it seemed that he was really into me too!  Until one night.  He took me to a family party.  He introduced me to his parents and his extended family.  We were having a great time.  Later that night, when he took me home, I remember we went with several of his friends in their car.  I think we were sitting in the back seat.  It was after midnight when we drove to a house that was dark.  No one was home.  He got me out of the car and said he had to show me something.  We left his friends in the car.  I asked him “who lives here?”  He just continued guiding me to the front door.  Because he was always surprising me, I did not think anything bad was going to happen.  He got me into the house, led me to a bedroom and sat me on the bed.  I was confused.  I asked him what are we doing here?  Before you say it, yes.  I know.  I was extremely na├»ve, but I liked him.  I trusted him.  I HAD NO IDEA he was going to rape me.  I told him I didn’t want to.  He didn’t listen.  He kept pulling at my skirt.  He was on top of me.  He was so strong.  I said NO, … and the next thing I knew he was inside me.  HOW could I ever tell anyone that this was non-consensual?  I went with him.  Into an empty, dark house.  Willingly. 

After it happened I remember walking with him back to the car where all his friends were waiting, KNOWING, what had just happened.  I felt deep shame and embarrassment as they snickered to themselves.  The guy, who was constantly showering me with gifts and flowers didn’t contact me for several months.  He just slithered off and disappeared until one day he showed up at my doorstep.  My mother, who ADORED this guy, let him in.  I sat with him in my kitchen and told him exactly what I thought about what he had done to me.  He was shocked and angry that I was calling him out.  I remember his words as he left “well, I guess I’ll take my leave.”  Like he was some sort of English Lord or something.  And that was it.

It happened over 35 years ago.  I remember everything.  What he said, what he did, who was there.  If he were going to be appointed to the Supreme Court, I would do the same thing as Dr. Ford.  And I would want anonymity.  Because I know, that even today in 2018, I would be blamed.  For not coming forward sooner.  For never saying anything.  And I don't think I could bear the questioning or the scrutiny.  What he did to me was unforgiveable.  He took something from me.  No, he didn’t beat me.  No, he didn’t drag me into an alley.  But he took something from me just the same …. and it was a crime.