It was 1982 and I was 10 years old, in the fifth grade. I was in the library, standing atop one of those rickety brownish metal step-stools, looking for a book. A boy— oh yes, I remember his name, it was Jason— walked by me laughing and singing Steve Miller Band’s song “Abracadabra.” When he got to the line in the song, “I wanna reach out and grab ya,” guess what he reached out and grabbed?
I was stunned, to say the least. But I didn’t tell anyone. I know a classmate, his friend, saw it, and I remember him laughing. But I did not tell my teacher, nor my mom. I think I told my friend Denise, who, right around this time, slapped that same laughing classmate across the face when he tried to put his arm around her. I should’ve done that to Jason. But instead, I did nothing. Instead, for some reason, I felt embarrassed and ashamed.
No one ever taught me that this was even a possibility of an occurence. It was a complete surprise to me. And as life went on and the years rolled by, I realize now that I had been just chalking it up to stuff dudes do.
I look back at this in today’s world and the current societal climate. The fact that we voted into the presidency of the United States of America a man who would do this type of thing and reduce it to “locker room talk” is the height of offensiveness. (Ok…. one of the heights. There are so many.) I feel anger rise inside me when I think about how people— WOMEN people, especially— were okay with this. They would never be okay with this from someone they know, let alone a child they are raising. And that they blew his brag off, and voted for him anyway? I am shocked and stunned, again, still.
Yes, this now-president did other things, too, that should’ve stopped everyone in their tracks. This one, though, floored me in a new way. I feel anger arise anew just as I am typing this.
Cut to the Women’s March, with the result of the election still stinging and the inauguration still fresh. A friend relayed that her sister, after seeing my photos on Facebook, said to her, “I can’t believe that Amy took her daughters to the Women’s March.”
Well, to her and anyone else who feels that way, I say this: “I don’t want my daughters silent when our culture is STILL accepting of men who grab women (or anyone) without their consent. I don’t want my daughters to allow this, ever, in their lives. I want them to know that they can STAND UP for themselves and that there are people who will STAND UP with them.”
My girls are still a bit young to know what happened with the Access Hollywood tape, but I have made it clear to them that no one can touch them inappropriately, and they can and should always speak out.
It takes a lot to offend me. It really does. But this one runs deep. That anyone would question how I raise my children is one thing, and I can understand that. I use four-letter words around them sometimes, and I can be a hippie, with a pretty free-wheeling attitude about life on occasion. But I have high standards in how I expect them to behave toward others and in society. And a disregard for others, ala an unapologetic Trump, is absolutely unacceptable. As would be them not standing up for themselves, and for others.
Having the courage to stand up for others and for yourself is where integrity begins. I regret not standing up for myself in that fifth-grade instance. Or other similar instances in my life, of which there have been some. But I won’t stand idly by now or ever again. And this article is proof. Let’s not allow one more person to be hurt by this type of behavior, and let’s never accept this as a fact of life.
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