Yesterday I had a surprising intellectual conversation with a Facebook friend over politics. Since I don't use real names we'll just call him The Soldier, since he's a military man. I know what you're thinking. And I was stunned too. Especially because The Soldier is a Trump supporter. I didn't know he was a Trump supporter until he posted this. I can't remember why I added him, like I'm sure most of you are with your Facebook friends, but there must have been a moment when I felt we thought the same about something. And I wasn't disappointed.
Soldier's post had been about how he couldn't understand how a woman would wait twenty years to come forward about an unwanted touch, IE: all the grouping and fondling that these women are claiming Trump did, and that they must have done it for money. Been paid off by some entity either political side or journalistic...someone.
Well some of his male friends immediately jumped on that bandwagon. Some women too. But there was one female friend of his that used that moment to tell him her own story of unwanted touching which led to rape, and how she had been afraid and told not to tell, and didn't for many many years. I of course could not let her stand alone; I who had been coached into silence, which was so much more damaging in the long run than the rapes. So I came forward with my stories about rape as well. I even re-posted my blog that helped another friend from group titled My Letter To My 12 Year Old Self that is the anchor to my blog. And then another woman, touched by our stories told her story FOR THE FIRST TIME. Then more women did, and how helpless they felt and how they couldn't come forward out of shame or the fear no one would believe them anyway since these men were allowed to go along with their grouping and unwanted touching completely unpunished, but everyone knew enough to warn women what not to do. These were trusted men in power, teachers, parents boyfriends, family members, employers. It was shameful to me but triggered many feelings of helplessness from the past. For once I wasn't crying but I had the big shoulders for them. And I was proud of my progress.
He was true to his nature and wanted to punch them all out when he read our stories and stood on the principle that these weren't rapes only touching. But he was further educated about rape culture and how that's how it starts. That his candidate exhibits rape culture behavior. We may not have changed his mind on his candidate, and that wasn't the point. But I think we opened his eyes about how women have this kind of thing happen to them every day and we're taught to just let it go. Because 'boys will be boys' and it 'doesn't mean anything'. But that is wrong. Boys should be taught to respect women and men for that matter. Boys should be taught that its wrong to touch another person without their permission, just like we teach girls. We should further more not teach a little girl that a boy hits her because he likes her. Or is disrespectful in anyway meaning that is affection. It's not. And it sends a very confusing signal to both of their developing brains.
In the end, we're still exchanging ideas this morning, and I'm confident his wife has found not only a strong man to protect her from her abusive past, but I have found a friend that would help me stand up to a man who was afraid of my feminist attitudes. While he showed no fear only actually listened to my point of view, never tried to talk over me or interrupt me, which is admittedly hard to to on line, but his responses didn't feel like he was just listening to respond. He was listening. He gives me hope that other men out there might not be as scary as some of my choices in partner or my attackers or even some of the men (and women) I've worked for. For this is just another form of bullying isn't? Pushing your weight around and taking what you want instead of working for it and risking rejection. Forcing anyone, male or female, to do what you want, weather it's with unwanted touching or verbal abuse or guilt or whatever, is wrong. And when you respect and love the person it's a helpless feeling that not only slowly kills your love but destroys your ego. You start to believe the hype. 'I deserved it' 'It was my fault...somehow'
I'm amazed by the men that can't see what my friend sees, and I'm hopeful that he will use his male power to help women in every facet of his life when they are treated as objects instead of humans. I made sure I told him how great I thought he was to have let us all express our opinions in a safe place and I know I made a friend. Here's to more great discussions, and making new friends.