The last few weeks have provided a deep well of material for one who loves badass women. And yet, I haven’t been able to find the words.
An historic presidential election in which a woman is a major party candidate has devolved so far from the issues, one might be forgiven for forgetting what the issues actually were. Instead, we’ve been witness to the vile gasps of a dying patriarchy taking every shameful last swipe possible at the prospect of a female future. No going out with dignity. It has peeled off its human façade to unleash its sick and sinister soul.
“I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.”
I have been surrounded by so much good lately. Personally. Professionally. In my community. There has been so much good.
But still, there is this:
“Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
And I can’t get it out of my head. The casual bravado with which a wealthy white man brags about sexually assaulting women. Its dismissal as locker room talk, as boy talk, as something we should shrug off because, really, we just weren’t meant to hear it.
Grab them by the pussy.
In this vulgar and honest moment, one man validates our worst fears: that we are valued as mere objects available for the amusement and satisfaction of men like him, as vessels into which they can plunge their deep need to dominate. And while the horror of this particular shit show tells us much about the character of one particular ass hat, unworthy to be named here, it also reveals something frightening about us as a society, that we raised, enriched, elevated, celebrated, and ultimately put him within a hair’s breadth of our nation’s highest office.
I can say confidently that had I been there, in this particular perverse proverbial locker room testosterone fest, I would have shut it down. What worries me are the countless times my own action or inaction helped to build a culture of people that nominates a man for president who grabs them by the pussy.
In the board room, when I’ve worried whether I looked too dowdy.
In a business meeting, when I’ve worried if I was dressed too provocatively.
When I’ve paused in front a mirror to worry that I looked too fat, or too old, for whatever business day I was about to slay.
When I’ve allowed my perceived, relative attractiveness to men determine my level of confidence for the moment ahead of me.
My response to the foul sexism that is playing out for us in daily headlines is to vow to be a better role model to my nieces and nephews. To show up. To own up. To succeed. To shine. To fight the impulse to doubt myself. To silence the voice inside me that says I’m not good enough. To be bold, and also to be good. To be a person in the world whose character behind closed doors matches the persona I curate on social media. To trust my instincts. To love my double chin and gray roots. To embrace my bushy eyebrows and laughable shoe game. To listen. To learn.
To stomp out the patriarchy and dance on its ruins.
And by all means, to vote.