This is the final post in a short series called My Story From 32 Years Ago. You can read part two, which was posted yesterday, here and part one, here.
Knowing what happened to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford makes me feel sad and agitated – because what happened to her is similar to what happened to me when I was a teenager.
I believe Dr. Ford. Beyond the hyper partisan histrionics, the bottom line is that a serious accusation was made against a nominee for the highest court in the land. That should be the complete focus – not the politics of it. Cultural norms and our society is at stake.
And to everyone asking “Why did she wait so long to report?” The answer is this: No one would have believed her then, just like they aren’t believing her now. They would have swept it under the rug as a ‘boys will be boys’ moment. They may have said she shouldn’t have been in the room. They may have said, that’s what you get for being drunk at a party.
They may say it is self serving of the woman. To gain what? Notoriety at the cost of her family, friends, career and reputation? I said nothing because I was conditioned to believe back then it wasn’t a big deal. It is a big deal. Since my first post on Monday, I’ve received countless text messages, emails and Facebook messages from women telling me this happened to them too.
Are we all lying and being opportunistic all these years later? Or can we agree that perhaps many, many men believe it is ok to behave like the boy I was with in the bedroom?
We can also know many, many men DO NOT behave like this. We can also believe a woman can falsely accuse. And we can also know I will always remember what happened in that bedroom. And so will Dr. Ford and the women that contacted me and all the women that haven’t.
Our society has always functioned this way. Boys sow their wild oats. A good girl stays a virgin until marriage. Guys are horny, girls are sluts. Just because we were taught to think this way whether it was modeled in our homes, seen in films or read in books, it’s wrong, extremely complex and deep seeded.
And if one more person says “It’s tough to be a white man in America right now,” I may lose my mind. If you are a man who doesn’t assault women, doesn’t grab their asses, doesn’t catcall them, doesn’t grind on them, is it really tough for you? It’s not tough for the men I know.
Could women falsely accuse? Absolutely. And I do worry about that for our young sons as our culture evolves and gets messy before it gets better.
We need to change our culture. We need to educate and be educated. We need to have conversations. We need to listen. We must open our MINDS, EARS AND HEARTS. Over and over again.
We need to talk with our kids. I have a daughter and a son. I see both sides of situations. My kids and I discuss love, respect, consent and safety a lot. We talk about affirmative consent. We talk about getting consent as things progress during a physical encounter. They are so sick of me talking about it.
And let me tell you – I worry for both of them. I worry for my daughter, that she will be in a position where she is vulnerable and an entitled man will take advantage of her. Whether it’s groping, grinding or any non-consensual sexual behavior. I’m afraid she will lose her voice. God it hurts to type that.
I worry for my son, that if he is in a sexual situation and says so much as an innocent ‘please,’ it could be considered coercion or assault depending on what state he lives in. God it hurts to type that. Just as much.
Our girls need to use their voice, take responsibility for themselves and own their actions.
Our boys need to use their voices, take responsibility for themselves and own their actions.
They both need to say yes when they mean yes and say no clearly and definitively. They need to say “IS THIS OKAY?” clearly and definitely.
It’s not easy to do any of this when they are drinking. They need to know morning after regret does not mean you get to accuse someone of sexual assault. They need to know if their partner seems unsure, they need to back away from the situation. It’s not their job to convince anyone. It’s about mutually agreed upon sex. No one is in charge of anyone but THEMSELVES.
And if they are involved in a sexual assault, they need to come to us or someone they trust and then WE need to be supportive, loving, and welcome them into our open arms and believe them.
We need clear laws, clear language and open discussions with young people. Our schools need consistent sex ed programs. Parents need to have these talks earlier and earlier. I know it takes the sexy out of sex, but that’s where we are at right now. For now.
We are trying to change cultural norms. It’s not an easy change to make. But just because it’s not easy doesn’t mean it’s not right nor impossible.
It’s messy people, it’s messy and complicated, but not impossible to straighten out.
Thank you to everyone who has read this three part series. I’ve enjoyed talking with you and receiving all your support and hearing your stories too. I look forward to your comments and ask that you be respectful so we can have an open conversation. I hope to learn with and from you.
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