The thing that most depresses me about this political season aside from the fact that I’m voting with enthusiasm for a candidate I have historically felt little enthusiasm for because the alternative is the end of the Republic as we know it is that we’re now talking about rape and sexual assault and sexual harassment in ways that make me so painfully aware of just how many people don’t realize how ubiquitous the problem is.
Folks, it so many people you might as well round it to everyone. Every woman I know has been fucked with. Every single one. I don’t know how you might frame the question to get an honest poll answer, but something like “Has anyone ever deliberately touched you in a spot normally covered by underwear without your permission?” And I suspect that, if you could get men to feel safe answering the question, most of them would also answer yes.
And listen, the internet is full of this impulse to believe that, if only you told your story in the perfect way, you could get people to listen and believe and understand you, to change so that they didn’t hurt anyone the way you were hurt. And I’m here to tell you that isn’t always true. In fact, it’s often not true.
This is to say that you don’t need to share with me. I don’t often feel like sharing much with the internet anymore myself, because I just imagine the people who get off on suffering reading it and getting off on it.
But I still think a lot about the boy who grabbed me by the pussy. It was a tiny bit traumatic for me. I don’t want to downplay that. But it was more existentially confusing. Like, he seemed to think it would do something or cause something to happen if he did this, but he didn’t know what. And I also was too young to know what he was doing or why he was doing it. I just remember the uncertain smile. I have never forgotten that. I have often wondered what happened to him or what he saw in his life that brought him to do that to me in the hallway.
We were in second grade. I have been thinking of that, on and off, for almost forty years. I wonder if he thinks of it at all. Probably not.