A Break in Normal Programming

I am suffering from election-induced anxiety.  For the past few weeks, I can’t seem to disconnect from all the sources giving me breaking updates on the latest scandal.  But the past week in particular has been intense.  As I have watched more and more women come forward to speak about their experiences with the man who is a candidate for president, I can’t help but think about how these are shared stories.

When I was 17, a male friend came over to my house to watch a movie.  He spent the entire time groping me, trying to get in my pants.  I had just been dumped by one of his friends and was not at all interested.  He didn’t even try to kiss me.

When I was 18, I was drugged by my older prom date, who was at best an acquaintance.    He just wanted to “see what would happen.”  Luckily, due to the kindness of near-strangers, nothing happened.

When I was 19, another male friend tried to have sex with me when I was trying to go to sleep.  He later apologized.

When I was a 20-year-old intern, an older male employee tried to pick a stray hair from my breast at work.  He repeatedly tried to change my work schedule so I would stay late with just him at the office.  A female supervisor intervened.

I literally can’t tell you the number of times I have been touched by men in public.  I have had my ass grabbed more times than I can count.  Just last month at a bachelorette party in Charleston, a man I had never spoken to before came up behind me and rubbed his crotch up the leg of my shorts at a bar.  I was dancing with the girls.  I’m married.  We all laughed about it afterwards.

Here’s the deal.  I think of myself as lucky.  And the sickening part is that it’s true.  I AM lucky.  I’ve never been raped.  I’ve never been physically abused.  Almost every woman I know has experienced at least some of what I’ve experienced, but many have experienced far worse.  I have friends who have gone through that sometimes murky line of consent, with their partner pushing just a little too far.  I also have friends who have been victims of a total trampling of that line.

As an avid consumer of election-cycle media, I have seen more and more women telling similar stories.  This is something that women in America, likely the world, experience collectively.  This is what rape culture looks like.

I’m adding my stories to validate those experiences and the experiences of the women coming forward publicly.  I’m tired of the narrative that men push and take and women fight against it and give in.  It’s not right, and we should not be partaking in and modeling that behavior for others.

Rush Limbaugh (I told you, I’ve fallen in deep) tried to mock the concept of sexual consent, but I’ll leave you with his words:

“If there is consent on both or all three or all four, however many are involved in the sex act, it’s perfectly fine, whatever it is. But if the left ever senses and smells that there’s no consent in part of the equation then here come the rape police. But consent is the magic key to the left.”

You are absolutely correct, sir.  Consent is the magic word.