feelings · feminism · mississippi · motherhood · politics · protest · race · sexual assault · trump

Dear Trump Supporter, On #WhyIMarch

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I live in the deep south, where we don’t have snowflakes, we have thunderstorms, and let me tell you, we saw one today.  Hundreds of people showed up HERE, in Mississippi of all places, to march for women’s rights, to say that Black Lives Matter, climate change is real, love is love, and immigrants make America great, so you can save your insults, because we are not afraid of you.  We are the storm!

I want you to hear me now.

WE WILL NEVER SHUT UP.

I know why you want us to.  It’s because every moment that we resist, speak up, defend our rights, march, rally, tweet, blog, write, perform, sing, and generally take up space, you get a little uncomfortable.  That’s what being wrong feels like. It feels like embarrassment, shame, humiliation.  I understand.  I have felt all those things, and I empathize, but I also see right through you. Your defensiveness, bullying, desperate clinging to old worn out backwards ideas of the south, of faith, of God, of a twisted hypocritical morality are more transparent than the wrapper on a fruit roll-up.

Here’s what you need to know.  We will never get over it and move on.

WE WILL NEVER ACCEPT DONALD TRUMP.

The reason is simple.  Trump has crossed way too many lines, remorselessly, purposefully, to gain personal power.

You may be able to ignore his bragging about sexual assault, but as a survivor, I will never be able to do that.  Every time I see that man, I will remember his cruel, shameful, disgusting words on that tape, and every time they will remind me of my own assaults, of the many times I have been groped, harassed, and treated as an object. Every time he is physically near a woman, I fear for her safety.  I remember the many victims who spoke out against him.  I remember the many young beauty pageant contestants who claimed he violated their privacy and made them feel unsafe.  I remember the insults and the misogynist language he has used to humiliate and threaten women, on tape, for the whole world to hear.  I do not accept that.

You may be able to ignore his mocking of a disabled reporter, but I will never be able to do that.  I have too many disabled family members, have seen too much suffering, and carry way too much empathy and kindness in my heart to accept that.

You may be able to ignore his racism, but I will never be able to do that.  I am raising a woman of color.  I care more about her than I care about anything else in this world.  I care more about her future than anything else in this world.  I care more about her heart and soul than anything else in this world.  I would do anything for that child.  She is the number one reason I marched today.  I will not miss an opportunity to do everything in my power to make her path in life safer and more joyful.

You may be able to ignore his hatred of immigrants, but I will never be able to do that.  I know that had my family, generations ago, and the father of my child’s family, just one generation ago, not immigrated here, that I would not have my daughter, my home, my citizenship, and I know that this country would be worse off.  I cannot accept that.

You may be able to ignore his Islamophobia, but I will never be able to do that, because I know that the freedom I have to practice my religion, is incumbent on all people being free to practice their religion, or none at all, and that hatred is neither Christian, nor practical.

You may be able to ignore his lies, but I will never be able to do that, because I place a high moral value on the truth, on honesty, on facts, on information, on data, on science, and on integrity.

You may be able to ignore the damage he will do to our planet, but I will never be able to do that.  Science does not care what your opinion is.  Climate change is real, and if you don’t understand it, stop reading this right now, and get informed.  All you need to do is a simple google search and you will have a wealth of knowledge right at your fingertips.  Our world already has climate refugees.  We already have melting ice, disappearing habitats, natural disasters, drought, wildfires, earthquakes, rising oceans, rapid warming, grave economic, wildlife, and human loss.  At this point, it is not a question of if it will happen, but, how bad will it be?  Without a president who takes this seriously we will all suffer, gravely, our children and grandchildren most of all, and I do not accept that.

I could go on.  Trump’s list of crimes, frauds, insults, bullying, hate, lies, and ignorance, seems to get longer each and every single day.  The important thing to understand, is that there is nothing he can do to earn my acceptance of him, short of a remorseful public apology to the many groups he has threatened and insulted, followed by his immediate resignation, and disappearance from public life.

But of course, there is good news.  We do not need Trump’s permission to be kind, good, moral, just people.  We don’t need his permission to donate our (TAX DEDUCTIBLE) money to organizations that combat hate, help those in need, and help heal our souls.We do not need Trump’s permission to treat each other with kindness and respect.  We do not need Trump’s permission to accept and love all people, regardless of skin color, socioeconomic status, immigration status, sexual or gender identity, or religion.  We do not need Trump’s permission to register to vote, to organize our communities, to run for office, to volunteer, to take back the legislature in 2018, to support women, to fight for our rights, to protest, to make art, to be creative, to believe survivors of sexual assault nor to demand accountability and fairness from our government.  We don’t need his permission to raise an entire generation of strong powerful women, of future presidents, of leaders of the next revolution.

I want us all to take this moment, this day, where we made such an incredible, powerful, open, loving, and massive display of our power and let it be OUR INAUGURATION as the leaders we must be, and Trump supporters, when you live in a fairer, better, wealthier, healthier, safer country because of us, you can thank us later.  You are welcome to join this movement at any time.  There are no walls here.

 

 

 

babies · feelings · feminism · mississippi · motherhood · politics · protest · race · sexual assault · trump

What Happens When You Throw an Anti-Trump Rally in Mississippi

img_20161009_184224Donald Trump has brought out a side of me I haven’t seen since my college days.  He has made me militant af and so far there’s no sign of my backing down.  My level of rage has not abated.  Hearing that garbage human talking about women that way on Friday was very triggering to me and apparently I just live like this now and because I am back to pre-pregnancy, pre-breastfeeding levels of caffeine intake a day  I have a lot of manufactured energy to burn.

I got the idea to throw a “Never Trump” rally and immediately texted my friend Lindsay, who is a very reasonable person, and who has protest experience, and whose husband is a police officer and would know if I was doing something illegal and is also a normal mom with kids who doesn’t want their president and role model to be a sexual predator.

I knew if she agreed to show up, I would go do this rally even if I could only get a few people to show up.

For anybody who doesn’t live in Mississippi, it’s hard to explain the level of political apathy and willful ignorance people engage in here.  The polite term for racists, misogynists, and white supremacists here is, “my redneck cousins,” or “my REALLY redneck cousins.”  When people have gotten engaged lately, it mainly seems like they support Trump.  I wish I could say it were just everybody’s redneck cousins, but it’s not. It’s average people, working class, etc…  He has held rallies here with thousands of people in attendance.  The headline our local TV station chose in the aftermath of the tape was about Trump apologizing for the tape, instead of you know, that a candidate for president had bragged about sexual assault.  It’s no secret that this is a very red state, so why bother protesting?

At the end of the day, I just couldn’t keep quiet.  It seemed too important not to make some kind of statement and I truly believe that most people here would never leave their daughter alone in a room with this guy and would be deeply ashamed if their son acted like that, so I thought it was worth it to try something.

It was very important to me to do it before the debate and in a timely manner before the press moved on to whatever Trump scandal erupted next so I created an event Saturday to protest the next day, Sunday.  I knew this short notice would probably prevent me from getting a bigger crowd, but I didn’t want to wait.

Lindsay and I got the word out fast.  We posted our event on the WLOX article about Trump “apologizing,” and we DM’d multiple likely anti-trump groups.  Our event was shared 14 times in 24 hours by regular people and large progressive groups with huge followings.  We invited people across political party lines and we got at least 54 interested people.  I knew we would only get a small fraction of those to actually show up and I was right, but the people who did come, were so amazing.

I made some very basic signs that said “Never Trump” and a few other phrases, got there early and waited.  I used my stroller to carry everything and set up camp in Gulfport’s largest and most prominent public park right near HWY 90, the main drag on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  People slowly filed in.  We ended up with 8 adults and a few of us brought our kids.

We had a brief prayer/moment of silence for Survivors of Sexual Assault.  My toddler interrupted me and squirmed throughout my short speech where I read off a list of different things Trump has done to disqualify him for the presidency (and public life at all) and then we got our signs and headed toward traffic. (I wore my babe in my Tula, so she was safely attached to me, not running off).

I was very nervous about safety.  I told everyone to stay together, and not to engage with anybody who came at us with negativity.  I told everyone that if at any point they felt threatened or unsafe we would shut down, and if anybody looked like they would get violent we would immediately call the police.  At one point a young skateboarder kind of scared me because my overactive imagination (and the reality that there are tens of thousands of gun owners here) made me question if his cell phone was a gun.

So imagine my relief when the first cars drove by our signs and started honking in support!  We did get a few people (all white) who gave us the bird or a thumbs down or yelled something at us.  We could hardly ever make out what they said.  My absolute favorite moment was when a guy shouting his support for Trump and giving us the bird got slapped in the face by his girlfriend in the front seat.  I was dying.  It was like watching a metaphor for the feminist struggle physically manifest itself in front of my eyes.  The skateboarder kid?  He politely asked to take a selfie with us.  His mama raised him right.

All in all, it genuinely seemed like people were happy to see us out there.  Practically every black or Latino person who drove by us honked or shouted or waved or gave us a thumbs up of support and even some old ass white people did too (and a few other white people).

My favorite was the black guys in their big trucks revving their engines.  It’s just such a quintessential way to show your feelings in the deep south.

It was really nice to meet the other people who showed up to protest.  We all added each other on Facebook and exchanged info about our backgrounds and political involvement.  I think I’ll see them again at future events.

My daughter loved it.  We were outside. There were other kids there.  I brought crayons! Her absolute favorite part was when we would chant.  If you’ve never heard a little baby shouting “Never Trump!” you haven’t lived.  It sounded like this- “Ne-ba Chump! Ne-ba Chump!”  I’m so proud of my little activist.

All in all, it felt amazing.  It felt very empowering to be holding a bright blue sign and shouting at the top of my lungs, utterly rejecting this sleazebag, out loud, in public, unashamed, not hiding.  I felt like I was accomplishing more than I might just losing my shit on facebook during hour after hour of my rage spiral.  I had my laughing baby on my back, good people at my side, perfect weather, sunshine and a cool breeze.  It was a beautiful day and people saw us, they listened, and maybe we let people know, who wouldn’t dare come to a rally, that there were people out there who felt the way they did, that they weren’t alone, and it’s ok to stand against the crowd of people telling you to tow the party line, or not to vote your conscience.  It felt like freedom.

So that’s what happens at an Anti-Trump rally in Mississippi, you have fun, your baby is cute, you get an overwhelming majority of supporters versus cretins, and you meet super nice politically engaged people!  I think you know what your weekend plans are everybody!

feelings · feminism · motherhood · sexual assault · trump

Sexual Assault is #notokay

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The first time I was sexually assaulted was when I was 12.  A boy in one of my 7th grade classes groped my breast.  I was embarrassed and scared and ashamed.  I wanted to stay quiet.  A girl I was friends with witnessed it.  She made me tell the teacher.  The boy was sent to the vice-principal’s office. He came back to class that period and sat next to me every day for the rest of the semester because there were assigned seats.  I don’t think anyone ever called my parents.  I don’t know if he was ever punished.

The second time, a family member forced me to hold up my shirt to show him my breasts and threatened me if I didn’t do it.  He also snuck in my room and lifted my shirt while I pretended to sleep because I was too scared to move.  I was 13.

Too many times to count, as a young woman dancing in a club or out for a night, a man rubbed his erection on me on the dance floor or groped me or tried to kiss me without my consent.

Once, when I was hanging out with friends at the People’s Improv Theater in New York, a place I loved and felt safe in, where I put up my first plays in New York, where I still have many wonderful friends to this day, a man who had previously been banned from the theater for allegedly assaulting another woman, without any provocation from me, grabbed my face and kissed me in the middle of the conversation.  I was drunk and confused.  I tried to shake it off.

When he tried to do it again, I stopped him and said, “you shouldn’t have done that the first time.” He got angry and started yelling at me but it was loud and crowded and nobody noticed.  He accused me of leading him on and walked away from me.  A guy I had a crush on was nearby and I was embarrassed.  I was afraid he would think I was into this guy or with this guy who had kissed me without my consent.  To other people it probably looked innocent enough, drunk people making out in a bar, maybe even dating, getting in an argument, you don’t want to interfere, a guy wouldn’t do that in front of everybody if it wasn’t ‘ok’ right?  Especially a guy with a bad reputation who maybe needed to prove that women liked him?

These are my stories, and they all make me cringe and feel afraid and skeptical of men to this day.  I have more too.  I’ve been followed home by men, cornered in elevators, yelled at on the street.  I’ve even been roofied.  I think the horror of being roofied made me talk about it for a long time with a sense of humor.  It was the only way I dealt with it.  The man who roofied me and my friend didn’t get away with anything.  He didn’t get his hands on me, but when I think about what would have happened if he had, I can’t handle that, so I joke about it being a wild night.

Not anymore.

When I heard the Donald Trump tape of him, a rich powerful famous married man, bragging about kissing women without permission, how he could get away with anything because he was a star, how he couldn’t control himself, how he tried to fuck married women, how he moved on them like a bitch, how he could grab their pussies, I felt and remembered every time a man has sexually assaulted me and so did millions of women.

These are my stories, but the story I have told people many times about sexual assault is this, and it is the one that has stuck with me the most, and it is the most powerful one I know.  Once in college, a bunch of the girls in our theater department at school snuck into the school at night to have a slumber party for the graduating seniors which makes me laugh so hard to this day.  This is the kind of wild stuff we college girls got up to.  We snuck INTO SCHOOL.  We hung out with our girlfriends in sleeping bags in the middle of the acting/movement classroom floor.  We sat around sharing our feelings and our stories. We CLEANED UP AFTER.  These were the kind of girlfriends I had.

At some point during the night, we were playing some version of Truth or Dare that just turned into truth, and we all shared our deepest darkest secret.  There were 13 of us, and as we went around in a circle, all but ONE of us had a story about sexual assault.  Some version of a man violating us, taking advantage when we were drunk, or touching us without consent, or raping us.  For some of us it was a family member, for some a friend, a boyfriend, a guy we liked…  In a room of 13, only one had been spared.  It was the moment I knew.  Men are dangerous.

Obviously I’m talking about this, and trust me, I feel very vulnerable doing so-  I feel scared and nervous about the repercussions- but obviously I am talking about this because a man who can do this to a woman, who can brag about it, who can delight in it and laugh about it, cannot be the President of the United States.  It can never happen.

Anybody who votes for him or defends him, is defending sexual assault.  He is against women.  He hates women.  There is no way that you can think this is excusable or okay and not hate women. My language is strong but trust me my actions will be stronger.  Not only will I vote, as I have in every election, local or otherwise since I have been registered in Mississippi, but I will bring my daughter every time.  Not just this November, but every time, until I am dead.  This will be OUR STRONGEST FAMILY TRADITION.  I will NEVER shut up.  I will NEVER stand down.  I will raise my daughter to understand her rights and how to fight back.

I know I live in a red state.  I know I live in the south.  It does not matter.  I will NEVER stop doing everything in my power to stop this endless bullshit cycle of assault.

I know the stats.  There is a strong likelihood that my daughter, even though I am fiercely protective of her, even though I cringe to think of this ever happening to her, will be one of the 12 girls in that room and not the 13th, but you can better believe that I will teach her how to fight back.  I will show her the video of Gigi Hadid elbowing her molester in the face.  I will take her to the polls.  She will grow up with the first woman president of the United States.  We will change the culture.  We will change the country for women.  We have to.