Please be advised, trigger warning for sexual assault.
It was no surprise I woke up to a backlash from some of my relatives for a recent Facebook post I wrote about Trump. I'm no stranger to infuriating my family by talking too loudly on the internet about things they either don't agree with or don't want to hear. Usually I take the high road-- I delete it, or civilly reply in hopes I don't ruin the holidays this year and maybe, just maybe actually change some perspectives.
But this morning was different. I can usually see why people of different political or religious beliefs see what they see. I don't agree with it, but I understand it. But this morning, I could not understand how anyone could defend Trump and his deplorable, degrading and flat out predatory comments about women that were released yesterday on The Washington Post.
How could they not hear what I heard?
It's fair to say that no one heard what I heard when I listened to the audio of Trump talking about how he "moved" on a married woman "like a bitch". How he can kiss them if he wants because "when you're a star, they let you do it", and that also means he can "grab them by the pussy". He says a lot of other things in the audio, talking about Tic Tacs and "big phony tits", but I heard a lot more.
I heard my drunk ex-boyfriend saying I had to do it when I was eighteen. That it didn't matter that I didn't want to or that I was crying. I heard him sleeping soundly after, and I heard my heart still beating and me trying to stifle my tears. It was one of my first sexual encounters after losing my virginity, and that was how things were supposed to be, right? I'd never had a serious boyfriend before, but this was how relationships work, right? I heard myself two years later telling him he raped me, heard him telling me I was wrong. Heard myself standing strong, and him saying he was sorry, he didn't mean to, he was drunk, he didn't remember. He loved me. He didn't mean to rape me, just like he probably didn't mean to harass, threaten and stalk me for the greater portion of the last decade.
I heard the door closing in a dark room at my boss' house when I was twenty. My back was turned to the door; I was on my phone that was chained to the wall charging, drunk, trying to find a ride home from the party after I had licked my crush's face and wanted to crawl into a hole forever. I heard someone come around the side of the bed, grab me and kiss me. At first, I thought it was my crush, but I then rolled my hand over a buzzed head and without a sound, I knew it wasn't my crush. It was a co-worker. I heard me saying no, I heard him fumbling with my jeans, I heard my waistband ripping and I heard him yell out after I punched him in the face. I grabbed my phone and ran out of the party crying, driving home drunker than I knew I was.
I heard my co-workers laughing with him about his black eye at work the next morning. I heard everyone scold me for not knowing to stay away from him, that I should have known he was a scumbag, that I shouldn't drink so much, that I shouldn't be surprised since I did lick my crush, and obviously I was down for some action that night.
I heard my bathroom door creep open while I was dry-heaving in the toilet when I was twenty-five. I heard footsteps, but there was only a handful of close friends in the house, it was obviously Amy coming to hold my hair. But it wasn't Amy. I got up, and I heard my back hit the wall as someone I truly trusted pushed me and held me as he kissed me. I heard myself saying no and pushing back. Thankfully the next thing I heard was Amy pulling him off me. I heard him go into my bedroom, and go to sleep. I heard myself rationalizing it all-- he was drunk, he didn't mean it, he's going to apologize in the morning.
I did not hear an apology the next morning.
Instead he said, "You know I would have fucked you, right?"
I heard myself crying over the email he sent my boyfriend that said I wanted it. Because I love attention. I'll do anything for attention, look at how I act. That this was my fault.
I heard myself telling my friends, knowing it would ruin our social circle. And then I heard them ignore it.
I heard every time some dude in Hollywood slapped my ass, asked me to walk by one more time, or to come over so we "could see if there's some way we can make you a star." I heard the door lock in that photographer's apartment when I was twenty-two and when he told me I had to take a shower, and then put on a pair of tube socks and a pair of his underwear if I wanted the job. I heard the third AD tell me if I wanted my SAG vouchers, I had to "work" for them while blocking me from my trailer door. I heard me calmly trying to talk myself out of it, I heard my heart beating out of my chest, and I heard myself thank my lucky stars so many times that I got out of there alive.
I heard every painful memory I've worked so hard to work through so I can have healthy relationships now, bubble up to the surface and be thrown in my face. And I heard myself crying again, because how does one not cry about these things?
There's no way anyone could have ever heard everything I heard in the Trump tape, but how did they not hear their own stories? Or the stories of their mothers, sisters, or daughters? How did they not hear the pain of millions of women around the world that are treated as objects for the taking?
The problem with this election
is not that people haven't been
hearing what Trump says.
It is that they don't hear
the things he isn't saying.
They don't hear the implications of his words. They don't hear the pain of millions of American immigrants, minorities and women that Trump's words trigger. They don't hear the stories that those of us who are really listening hear. He isn't calling their families drug dealers, so it's okay. He isn't telling white communities they are in shambles, so it's okay. He isn't grabbing your loved one's pussy, so it's okay, it's just locker room banter! Boys will be boys!
Unless that boy is Bill Clinton, in which case, somehow him having consensual sex in the White House is just as offensive as Donald Trump talking about how he sexually assaults women. We all know there have been plenty of presidents and just people in general who have gotten into some interoffice sexcapades, hell, even George Costanza fucked his cleaning lady! But Bill Clinton and George Costanza aren't currently running for president. And having consensual sex in the office is not the same thing as sexual assault.
Sexual assault is unwanted sexual attention. It is kissing women who don't want to be kissed and it is definitely grabbing someone's pussy, whether or not you're "a star".
By defending Trump, or using this hollow Clinton rebuttal to excuse Trump's words, I hear you condoning sexual assault. I hear you telling me that my ex-boyfriend had every right to have sex with me when I was crying and asking him to stop. I hear you hi-fiving that co-worker for ambushing me in a dark room and putting his hands down my pants. I hear you agreeing, that yes, I am an attention whore who obviously wanted to be made out with after dry-heaving over a toilet.
And when you tell me, "Well, I'm not voting."
You know what I hear?
I hear a privileged piece of shit who can't think about anyone but themselves.
It must be so nice to not have to vote! I can't imagine being so lucky as to not have the government be constantly trying to take away your rights. That it doesn't matter who's in office because no one is sending your family back to a foreign country. No one is going to discriminate against your religion. It's not like the cops are killing members of your community flagrantly and daily. It's not like anyone is telling you what you can do with your semen and no one is going around trying to grab your dick. No one is taking away your reproductive rights or telling you you don't deserve equal pay. I mean, if it's not your pussy getting grabbed, who cares right?
I care about the rights of myself, and my fellow Americans of every race, every gender, every religion, every political background.
Donald Trump does not care about you. He doesn't care about me. He doesn't care about being "moral" because what "moral" newlywed openly talks about trying to fuck married women to strangers during a professional engagement? Wants to "make America great again"? You know what that means right? It means just great for rich white dudes.
Not great for you, and not great for me.
Not great for anyone but Donald Trump.
I urge you please vote for Hillary Clinton. I'm not totally in love with her either [weeps and wishes Bernie was here]. I know about the Wall Street Speeches and all that. It's not great. But to vote for Donald Trump is a vote for every despicable violation against humanity he has openly talked about over the last year and a half. And to not vote at all, is still a vote against humanity. It is a vote against all the pain and stories of millions of Americans that deserve respect, deserved to be treated equally, and deserve to be heard.
On November 8th, let Donald Trump hear you.
Let him hear that you've heard what he's said, and you won't stand for it.
Thank you for listening to my story, and I hope you listen to the stories of those around you.
And to those of you in pain, please know I hear you.
Thank you to Kelly Oxford for encouraging women to share their stories and giving me strength to share these stories after remaining silent for years.