School days are busy days. Yesterday afternoon, after my students left, I sat down at my computer and opened up twitter for the first time in many hours. It was a bit of a smack in the face. Tweets about Louis C.K. and Roy Moore. Followed by a surprising number of tweets filled with quotes of people (white men, really) explaining why they can still support Roy Moore.
I was overwhelmed with emotions. Many different emotions, but one really shines through. Amazement and awe at the many women who are speaking up. I was raped at 16 and said nothing. I said nothing for a year and a half. Even when I finally did speak about it, it was not because I wanted to and I shared it with as few people as possible. It took about twenty years before I could talk about being raped and being a rape survivor without shame (mostly, anyway).
These women are speaking up knowing it may hurt their careers, their reputations, and those close to them. They are speaking up even though doing so is painful personally. They are speaking up because they believe this should not continue. Speaking up is unlikely to help them but they know it will help other women. So they work through their pain and shame. I have more respect for them than I can describe.
I was catching up on all of this as I was also trying to process a situation at my school. I do not know the family involved but it includes another woman who amazes me. She is dealing with far more than I can imagine and doing it all for her children. Her story is not mine to tell, nor do I know all of it. However, learning the bits I did took me through similar emotions as all the women speaking up about sexual abuse.
I wanted to cry over the struggles this family is facing. I was horrified by the fact that any family should have to face such struggles. I was awed by the strength and endurance this mother is demonstrating.
It’s been a long time since I found roller coasters fun. I’m not sure I’ve ever found this emotional version enjoyable.
That’s where I am this morning. I am exhausted and horrified by how awful our society can be. That we live in a country in which men with power and money can treat women (and others) however they desire. That we live in a country in which many families face overwhelming obstacles because of their race, language, religion, and more. That some families (and individuals) are being forced down day after day by circumstances far beyond their control. Circumstances that are roadblocks for them but would barely be speed bumps for many of us. It reminds me again of what power privilege plays in our world. Having money and authority allows many to get away with terrible things. Being white, middle-class, educated, etc…these make lives easier while other lives are so much harder.
I am immensely grateful and astoundingly wowed by those who will stand up to fight back. Who will not allow those with more power and money to keep them down. Who will do all they can, against the odds, for their families or for others like them.
I am feeling beaten down and inspired in the same moment.