Tonight, as our vile and disgusting President mocked a survivor of sexual abuse to a crowd of hooting and cheering jackals, a pack of crude slavering clowns with whom I am embarrassed to share a country, there are still people walking around wondering why women don’t come forward.
Tonight, as Dr. Ford is mocked by an obese and mentally deficient sexual abuser with the largest microphone in the world, there are people who wonder why women don’t come forward.
I can’t, no matter how hard I try, understand what it means to be a woman in this world, to have to modify behavior at all times to avoid being assaulted. It’s only been recently that I’ve truly begun to contemplate the weight of being a man, and the way women have to constantly maneuver around the possibility of violence and sexual assault.
My wife Allison has helped me on this journey, but she’s also taken a journey of her own. Over the last few weeks, while the Kavanaugh experience has triggered survivors and potential victims (i.e. all women), she has taken an emotionally intense self-defense course. It’s more than that: it was an exploration of how to defend yourself, emotionally, mentally, and of course physically.
I got to see the graduation, where a wide array of women fought off extremely menacing attackers. It was inspiring, and sobering, to know that this was the reality. It was damn impressive.
Allison was open enough to write a few paragraphs about the experience, one which I think so many women could benefit from. But I can’t truly speak to that. I know that, as a man, seeing them fight, and seeing them have to fight, underscored once again that I walk through a different world, where I don’t have to notice shadows. I would recommend any man learn more so that we can think seriously about how to make this world a better place simply by being better. It’s on us.
And I would hope that any woman will read what Allison has to say, and find their way to be safe until the world is a better place.
A week ago I completed a very intense yet gratifying 4-day self-defense workshop through IMPACT Chicago. During the process I cried. I faced deeply held fears and insecurities and experiences I normally like to keep buried. I was physically exhausted and bruised. I was emotionally overwhelmed and challenged. And at the same time, I felt like I became the strongest, most confident, most inspired, and most vital version of myself. To my body and brain, the threats and fights I faced in IMPACT were 100% real, but I didn’t freeze or panic or give up (as I feared I might). I raised my voice and I stood my ground and I FOUGHT. I fought hard for myself as a woman and as an individual who knows I deserve to have my boundaries and my identity and my body respected. And I watched every single woman in the class (a group of different sizes, ages, colors, orientations, cultures, experiences) fight for the same things, with tremendous courage and conviction. It was awesome. I would recommend the IMPACT program to any and every woman who wants to feel safer, stronger, and better prepared (they have chapters in the UK and across the country – Impactselfdefense.org)
Women are truly powerful, so much more powerful than I knew. And while it’s crushing how pervasive male harassment and oppression remains today, how determined some individuals and institutions are to keep demeaning and disrespecting and devaluing us, I know we can and will keep fighting back for as long as it takes. We’ll keep using our voices, our knowledge, and (if necessary) our bodies to insist upon our worth and our right to agency, safety, self-expression, respect, and empathy.