So this week it was more Bill O’Reilly, paying hush-money to the tune of 32 million dollars (what in God’s name did he do? oh, right, sorry, he’s mad at God…), and Mark Halperin wanting women who were not his wife to sit on his lap. Slightly more heartening was the appearance of the Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem duo on MSNBC, expressing hope that we’re about to witness a change, damn-straight-if-they-have-anything-to-say-about-it. From their lips to the universe’s ears.
But this stuff runs so, so deep—how are we going to be sure we’ve gotten the roots out too?
I followed the trail, in my own case, back, back, back, to the very first time it happened to me. First grade, Highland Park Elementary School, Jackson, Tennessee, 1969. At the hands of a boy by the name of Steve Short. R comes just before S, so his desk was next to mine. He walked behind me in line to the lunchroom, or out to recess in Highland Park. Once, on our way toward the open field on the other side of the park, for a game of kickball or something, he deftly pulled me out of line (from behind, he had the advantage of surprise), dragged me beneath a near-by slide, and held my arms tightly to my sides so that I couldn’t fight. Then he kissed me. Two, three, four times, I don’t remember how many. I do remember a blotchy red rash on his neck. It visited my nightmares for weeks.
Once during rest period, when I (possibly exhausted by the red-rash nightmares) had actually fallen asleep on my little foldy-outty plastic mat, he crept across the room, reached up under my dress, and yanked my panties down to my ankles.
I was so ashamed that I never told the teacher (who did not witness the assault—she used rest period to rest in the teachers’ lounge), or my parents.
Let’s hit pause here for a second: *I* was ashamed because *he* pulled my panties down. A six-year-old girl with no previous experience in such matters instinctively knows to just pull her panties up and shut the eff up if she wants no further shaming. Then there’s the matter of a six-year-old boy with a playbook already containing all the classic moves of sexual harassers (and worse) the world over.
And now we have a president in the White House who grabs `em by the pu$$y (NB: a whole lot of women pulled the lever for him), thus enabling (even encouraging) all the little Steve Shorts out there.
I hope Jane and Gloria are right, I really do. But I’m not holding my breath.