I Will Not Be Silent

**TW: sexual violence**

When I was around 10 years old, I was raped. I say around, because that time of my life is a largely blank canvas on which few long-term memories were etched, thanks to the way trauma effects a brain. I was chased, and terrorized, and mocked, and assaulted, and after I had been raped, I was promised that if I told anyone, I would be killed–a threat I am still struggling not to buy into, despite the crater of time between then and now. I believed him because I hadn’t been told anything to counter what he said at that point in my life.

When Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President, he stated that all Mexican immigrants are rapists. He called female reporters “dogs” and “bimbos” and attacked them for their looks. He has talked about his daughter inappropriately and was once heard saying “I’m going to be dating her in 10 years, can you believe it?” while staring at a group of 12 year-old girls. He insinuated that Hillary Clinton could not satisfy her husband, and therefore wouldn’t satisfy the US. He talked explicitly about kissing women and grabbing them by the pussy, as you’re allowed to do that when you’re a star, and “moving on her like a bitch” towards a married women. You know what, here is a list of every terrible thing Trump has openly said to a member of the press about women. I’ll wait here.

Can you imagine what this man says when he is not talking to the press? The words that come out of his mouth when he is speaking to a woman? Worse yet, can you imagine what he does towards women? I can; I know this man’s track record. He has not been shy about his views that women are to be seen and not heard; they are to be thin and young and beautiful, and should stay at home and satisfy their husbands and be punished if they have abortions and expect sexual assault if they serve in the military. We know what he does because he has done it before. Over one dozen women have now come forward to accuse Donald Trump of inappropriate sexual conduct, all of whom Trump states are lying and will be sued, because–look at them–they are not people he would be sexually interested in.

This campaign, for me, has been exhausting. Almost every day of the campaign, he has said something insulting towards women, African-Americans, Latinos, and Muslims. He has spoken in favor of appointing Supreme Court justices who will overturn marriage equality, and has chosen Mike Pence as his running mate; Mike, who for the LGBT community is the face of evil. A man who is in favor of electroshock therapy being used to reverse someone’s sexuality, who has voted against every bill protecting LGBT people, and whose religious freedom bill is one of the most discriminatory towards us. But I had hope, through the 16-month election, that America would at least unite about what a terrible, sexist, racist, xenophobic, homophobic, narcissistic bigot Trump was, and work to keep him out of the Oval Office.

I was wrong.

On November 9, I woke up to the realization that we would have an accused rapist as our 45th President. We would have someone with no political acumen, someone who is insulted by any comment that does not favor him and will fire back with insults, someone who has climbed to the top on the backs of the people he religiously beats. As an American people, we have told the young girls who are being abused and scared that the person hurting them could one day be the leader of the free world. This country, where anything is possible but justice. Anything is possible if you are rich enough and loud enough and cruel enough.

My 10 year-old self was told that if I told anyone what happened, I would die. But what if I told and was completely ignored? What if I told and my rapist was congratulated?

I am fighting back against this presidency because I am not allowing little girls to hear that they can be objectified and made small. I am not allowing fellow survivors to hear that their stories have not been heard and there will be no justice. I am not allowing women to continue to be silenced and mocked and turned into looks and told they can be touched that way because the President can touch people that way. This is not about politics, this is about an abuse of power. This is about the worst kind of person being told that what they are doing is something to be praised. This is about the 1 in 4 women, the 1 in 6 men. This is about 10 year-old me. This is personal. And I’m going to fight.

Girls and women reading this, please know that your experiences and stories are valid. What happened to you was not okay. It is not okay to be hurt by someone and then made to feel ashamed. I am here if you need to tell your story. I am here if you need to rage. RAINN has a hotline  (800-656-HOPE) that can put you in touch with crisis centers or support groups or  help you through the reporting process or be a listening ear. There are millions of people in this country who are behind you. I believe you. It’s not your fault


Ads and the isms

Isms in ads is/are an issue that has/have irked me for many years. I understand that ads are supposed to catch your eye, because that’s what makes a product stick in your mind. I totally get that. But I am curious as to why a company would want a product to stick in someone’s mind as “WOW that company is super sexist/heterosexist/elitist and I never want to buy their products!” Let me throw out some examples (be aware that I put the links to the ads on here with extreme reluctance because I don’t want people to watch them, but want you to see what I’m talking about and what exactly irks me).

Because we don’t need to sell hair products like this. Seriously, when did the world decide that sex sells products that don’t have anything to do with sex. Shampooing hair should not lead to an orgasm, unless the individual has trichophilia. And while we’re talking about fetishes selling products, let’s also throw out this one about shoe fetishism. Or there’s this ad that objectifies men, or Tom Ford ads that objectify everyone (I am not providing a link because they are way beyond pushing the envelope and I already feel vile enough posting the rest of these).

Because we don’t need to sell cars like this. And may I also say that this commercial frightens me an exceptionally LOT because it glorifies 1) Lust, 2) Wrath, 3) Envy, 4) and Pride. It thumbs up treating women like objects, violence perpetrated by anger, the Want of Better Shit, and “yep I’m better than you.” Whaaaat.

Because we don’t need to sell cars like this, either. This is classism, white male privilege, and “the American Dream” that isn’t actually achievable for the majority of the American population. But no, you go ahead and sell your car like that, guys. Freedom. ‘Murica.

(There isn’t really an ad depicting this, but it should also be noted that companies like General Mills actually get backlash for making commercials like this [know why people were mad? Hint: skin color. I wish I was joking] or when Nabisco gets in trouble for making commercials like this [locate the problem this time? Hint: same-sex relationships. Again with the wishing I was joking]. People throw fits about Cheerios and Honey Maid graham crackers but don’t blink twice about SEXSEXSEX commercials? Seriously, that’s where we are right now?)

Those of you who know me enough to have suffered through my speech about how Unilever unnerves me with their two-facedness can skip this next part, ’cause that’s what this is. Unilever owns Dove, the company that’s been doing all of the ‘remarkable’ ’empowering’ “Real Beauty” ads recently. They’re great. Really. They’re all like, “Hey, the media is presenting terrible images of women and we’re all buying into it” and “Hey women, you’re beautiful despite what you see in yourself,” and that’s great, really. Those are really good messages. UNFORTUNATELY Unilever also owns Axe, one of the most remarkably sexist objectionist products that I know of. Axe both objectifies women as sex products, as bodies to be viewed, used, and discarded, and objectifies men as only ever wanting sex. A lot of Axe commercials get banned worldwide, which is great, but guys, they’re trying to sell their products this way. This is what they want to be known for as a company. Here’s one ad that was banned, as well as all of these (not for those who think that women shouldn’t be objects/sex shouldn’t sell products/men shouldn’t be seen as only desiring sex). Unilever is telling women that they are worth more than just their physical bodies, and that those bodies should be treated with care and they should see the beauty in themselves, but they are telling men that women are Things that can be manipulated, as Objects that can be lusted after, as Prizes to be won. They are telling men that they are allowed to give in to their animalistic instincts (I am NOT saying that men have animalistic instincts and that men are just looking for a thumbs-up to use/abuse women) and wantwantwantneedneedneedhavehavehavetaketaketake.

Last week a male went on a shooting rampage; while we can speculate whether or not he was mentally ill, whether or not he felt entitled, whether or not he was a narcissist, what we KNOW (because he told us through videos) is that he blamed women for rejecting his sexual advances. That’s why he was killing people. And people pitied him. That’s misogyny. That’s a view of women that starts with the belief that they are for the taking. That belief didn’t come from nowhere, that is something that is being taught–or at the very least is not being admonished–by society. He was completely responsible for his own actions, but society is responsible for helping create the thoughts behind those actions. Belief: Women have a responsibility to men to fulfill their sexual desires. That’s. So. Wrong. (I’m not going to talk right now about how misguided society is about what feminism is or how there’s an actual thing called “Men’s Rights Activists” and how terrifying it is to be a woman a lot of days, that’ll be another blog another day, but suffice it to say oh WOW life is scary.)

People pretend that media does not have an effect on anyone. If that was the case, companies would not spend their money making commercials or billboard/magazine/internet ads. WE ARE EFFECTED. WE ARE AFFECTED. We buy products because of advertising, because of what the company promises us about the product. Companies that sell products based on the isms that are rewarded by having their products sell will keep on selling products that way.

Think before you buy. Find out about companies, and think about the message that they are sending through their advertising (whether or not you think they’re aware of it). [This is also not a blog about buying natural, local products or avoiding certain chemicals or anything like that, but those are good things, too, and I do encourage you to do so!] I am an idealist. I believe we can change things through conversation. So let’s talk.