Purple Shirt

The whole Trump tape scandal and the political debate on Sunday really got to me this past weekend. I know it is because I have had so many experiences with men like that, men who thought they were entitled to touch or use my body without my consent. It’s been so prevalent in my life. And while I’m happy, in a way, for there to be a larger national conversation about abuse and assault, it is also depressing and of course triggering to have it all over the news.

Saturday evening I shared an article about the tapes on Facebook and commented on how frequently I had encountered men who thought they could kiss, touch, beat, or fuck me whether or not I wanted them to. Well, I didn’t use those words because, duh, these people know me in real life. But even though I was restrained in language, it was much more personal than my typical FB posts about my dogs and travels and garden projects. So I felt disappointed when I got some likes from friends and my sisters but only one comment, from someone I don’t know very well. By late that night, I was telling myself no one really gets it. Maybe I make too big a deal of it. Now everyone thinks I am oversensitive, or too revealing. They are embarrassed for me. I felt I never should have posted it. I stayed up too late, which never helps the wise part of me and instead feeds Anxiety and Self-Loathing, who are already active enough without the extra carbs.

Sunday I was unfocused and out of sorts all day. I appreciated Kelly Oxford’s #notokay Twitter project, even while I was horrified by the huge number of responses she got. I posted there, too, under my real name, though on my personal, rather than professional, Twitter account. Sometimes I felt lousy, as if all this had happened recently.

In the late afternoon, I got a text from my sister Debra, and it turned into a whole conversation, one we’d never had before.

Just read your FB comment about being grabbed and groped over the years… made me remember this time when I was walking down the street in a new purple shirt that I thought I looked good in. Some stranger passing by reached out and grabbed my boob. I went home and threw that shirt in the trash. That asshole owes me a shirt.

And could actually be arrested for that! Ugh makes me so mad!

I screamed at him, FUCK YOU MOTHERFUCKER! He backed away with his hands raised up like he was afraid I was gonna hit him. I think I scared him, ha ha.

And Trump (and others) sees nothing wrong with it. I’m sure he’d say, “it was just a joke; she shouldn’t take it so seriously.” I wish you’d grabbed the guy’s crotch and pulled. Or kneed him really good.

Right. I wish I had too. I remember at least two times being on the subway in Boston, and feeling someone’s hand on my ass.

I seriously have trouble remembering all the different times. [name redacted], [name redacted], [name redacted] (when we were all staying at his house in VA), guy from NH church whose kids I babysat, stranger at the Rastro market in Madrid. Stranger in gardens at Versailles. Doctor doing physicals at [name redacted] high school. Stranger on subway in Paris, in DC, on bus in [current city]. Guy I met at a bar on my first visit to HI.

Oh god, that’s so terrible!!! I think that most of the ones I remember were strangers. That’s so much worse when it’s someone you know and presumably trust. I’m so sorry hon. Bleah. 

It’s so common in our culture.

Wow, it’s a lot, you are obviously much more attractive to perverts than I am, lol.

Or seemed like an easier target. Bc I was, had not idea what to do about it other than take it.

Sorry, shouldn’t joke about it. I was naive too.

I was either 12 or 13 with [name redacted], who is a bit older than Dad. How sick is that?!?

Eww so gross what a pig.

I wish I’d known to tell Mom. I wonder what she would have done.

I wonder too. I remember she told me once that he wrote her a letter saying I was growing up to be such a pretty and nice young lady. Maybe he was hoping for a chance to grope me too. So disgusting. She thought he was a friend and paying her a compliment on her parenting.

I remember a year or two later, we saw him in the summer at a BBQ w Dad. He was watching you and talking about you getting “all grown up” [note: she would have been 12 or 13 by then]. I tried to stay next to you all night so he wouldn’t touch you. that’s the best I could think of at the time. True story. I bet he liked that age.

Thanks for being my bodyguard! It worked, he never came near me. I owe you big time! What a piece of shit.

Like many other men [note I am not saying “all men”], he saw girls and women as there for him to look at, touch, whatever. Not as human beings in their own right. And I see that same attitude in Trump, part of why this gets me so worked up. Very glad creepy [name redacted] never touched you!

I’d only ever tried to tell her any of this once, earlier this year I think, or last year, and I’d shut up immediately when she brushed it off as “oh, that was a long time ago.” It felt really good to have this conversation, to open up something between us. She didn’t disbelieve me. She didn’t trivialize it. I know, this is only a small part of my experience, and I still don’t dare tell her the worst of it. But it’s something, so thanks, Donald, for that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 thoughts on “Purple Shirt

    • Yeah, as disgusting as the whole thing was, it was good in that it opened up that conversation for me and my sister and probably for many other women and their sisters or partners or friends. And of course literally millions posted to twitter responding to Kelly Oxford. So I think it’s good to get it out there, to get men to understand how we all experience this shit and to get women to know they aren’t alone with it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s the Billy Bush stuff as well – the enabler. Given my recent experiences it’s been way more triggering than I expected it to be. But it is a good conversation to be having.

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  1. I’m glad you were able to have this conversation with your sister. You deserve to be heard and be believed. It sounds like she heard you and was able to really understand what you were conveying. And that is good. You should never be brushed off with “well that was a long time ago.” My mother does that, and it’s so upsetting and invalidating.

    I understand this whole idea of being sort of glad there’s a national conversation about sexual assault, which is relatively unprecedented, but it’s also really upsetting and triggering.

    I’ve been thinking about it a lot. This is one of the first times where assault/sexism/misogyny is such a central issue in the election. And it does warm my heart that he’s going to fucking lose partially because of his disgusting attitude towards women.

    I live abroad but registered to vote absentee, because he’s a garbage person who needs to not be president (it’s horrifying that he has so much support, though).

    The way he was looming behind her in the debate, trying to intimidate her with body language was gross.

    Liked by 2 people

    • We do enough invalidating of ourselves; we certainly don’t need other people telling us “it was a long time ago.” Yes, for god’s sake, it was a long time ago. And we were young it made a huge impression on our developing sense of self in ways that can’t be shrugged off. It affected the structure of out brains in ways that cause us on-going pain. If the abusers broke bones that never healed properly and left us in daily pain, no one would say, “get over it already.”

      Thanks for allowing a small rant on that topic! Love to you, Sophia.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This seems like a very healing conversation with your sister, where you were both able to really be seen and heard. I, too, was activated by the Trump tapes. I was up until 3am on Friday night because all the sensations associated with being “grabbed” by my genitals were whirling around my head, making it hard for my nervous system to settle.

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    • Oh! I’m both sad (for you) and relieved (selfishly) that you felt that way, too. It was so intense and really took over my weekend. I told myself yesterday that maybe I should skip the news and social media for a while to calm down, but I’m finding myself morbidly drawn to find out what on earth disaster is next…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m not in the U.S but I watched most of the debate and he really is a disgusting pig. I actually feel sorry for Americans who have such a poor choice of candidates as I don’t think Hillary Clinton is squeaky clean either.
    I’m glad your sister could open up to you more and make room for that conversation.

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    • Thanks for commenting. You are right, Trump is a disgusting pig, almost a caricature of the worst politician you could dream up.

      Hillary is not squeaky clean, but I don’t know who could work in the political sphere for 30-40 years and not have mistakes and misjudgments. I do believe she has worked for the public good (though certainly also for her own ambition). It’s hard to be making decisions at that level. Think of Obama and drones or deportations. I like him a lot but am not okay with everything he’s decided to do (but maybe in his place I would have felt I had to do the same). I feel fine about voting for Hillary, with her imperfections and her mistakes.

      I can’t believe I am writing about politics on this blog–I never expected to. I wouldn’t, if Donald would keep his pathetically small hands away from women’s bodies.

      But the real point, the important point, is the opportunity to start to open up to my sister.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Pingback: Confused, but Trying | la quemada

  5. This is the part that resonated with me the most:
    *They are embarrassed for me*. I felt I never should have posted it. I stayed up too late, which never helps the wise part of me and instead feeds Anxiety and Self-Loathing

    That litany is cruel, relentless in its refusal to have mercy on a mind too tired to fight back. I have often felt embarrassed or thought others were embarrassed for me because of something I wrote. Also, the later it is, the worse I feel about myself. The thing is, I keep looking at the clock for that hour of horror, 3am, the witching hour when my mother was most active in conditioning me to believe I had no power. It’s 3:43am now, way too late to be up reading and commenting.

    Crazy people who say insane things are drawn to me. It’s as if I have a beacon, a bright light that shines that only insane people can see. That’s how they know to find me, that stupid star above my head that says, go to Faith, say anything you want, touch her hair, ask about her health, tell her your life story. It’s insane the stuff strangers feel comfortable telling me. I wonder, what is it about me that makes people so comfortable with being abusive? What am I doing, how am I holding myself? Why?

    My old physical therapist was massaging my shoulder but he was moving forward in what felt to me to be a sexual way. I said something about it to which he replied, I have to get something out of this, I *am* giving you a massage. … Why did he feel comfortable saying that? He asked if I put ice or heat on my shoulders after the sessions. I said ice. He said, you seem like a heat kind of girl to me. ….. again, not encouraged, not expected, not okay, not the last time it’ll happen. … (throws hands in the air, logging off for the night)

    I only got to visit you for a moment today. I’ll be back soon.
    Faith

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aaah, that massage physical therapist, so wrong! Maybe it shouldn’t, but it continues to astonish me, the things that men think are okay to say and do with women they don’t know or barely know or are supposed to have a professional relationship with.

      You are a warm person, and people probably sense that, but it that doesn’t mean it’s okay to stomp all over your personal boundaries!

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  6. You really took a risk, sharing this with her when she’d brushed it off in the past, and when you were already feeling vulnerable over the Facebook post. I’m so glad it paid off. I want you to have an army of support around you, and I hope that you can keep building your trust with her, step by step.

    Liked by 1 person

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