From my journal, written 17 December 2017. Lightly edited for clarity.
I’m stunned at how angry I am. Here we are in 2017 and some men and women are still trying to minimize what’s happening in the shadows. They want to change the conversation to the poor men who are being humiliated. I’m fiercely angry. This surprises me, since I thought I’d dealt with this and found a way to connect it with my life as it is now. So that my voice is in charge.
Suddenly ‘their’ voices seem to be in charge. The voices of men who violated other human beings and try to dismiss it all as lies or misunderstandings and get on with their lives. Victims be damned. In fact, let’s sue them! For defamation of character! Lies and half-truths.
I saw this behavior when I confronted my father about his abuse of my body and spirit. In his eyes, I was clearly The Problem. Today I hear almost ritual trashing of women and men who were violated in any number of ways. Forced against their will to do obeisance to a perpetrator. And then paying for it with their silence if not their future careers.
I feel the energy draining away even as I type this. What’s so horrendous is the cost of even beginning to connect with this national tragedy. As great as slavery, in my opinion. Though not the same as slavery. Both realities treat women and some men as another class of beings brought into the world to do someone else’s bidding and keep their mouths shut. What were they thinking???
Christian leaders, politicians of all parties, business leaders, prominent actors and producers, everyday fathers and uncles and grandfathers and brothers and cousins. How can such a degrading reality live for so many generations?
I don’t have the energy for this. Still, I’m horrified at the extent to which some are going to avoid, deny, make light of or even ‘kill’ truth.
The headlines are like poison right now. I avoid them. I don’t want to live in a constant state of internal uproar. I need a clear agenda for what I will and will not do to take care of myself in this national war between the courageous and the cowards who think money and reputation will save them.
Maybe all the ‘everyday’ harassment I experienced, especially at the seminary, wasn’t about how wrong I was, but about how right I was and how strong my voice is. I’ve always felt my voice was weak. Though women and some men found it strong, the overall impression I made on the majority of students was, I think, negligible. And according to some seminary officials, the less I said about controversial matters, the better.
But now I wonder. Was all the commotion about me due to the power of my voice? Were they afraid because they found themselves wanting to agree with me yet were also afraid it might mean the end of their hoped-for careers in church and denominational politics?
I’ll never know. Still, it never occurred to me that opposition to a voice might be a sign of the speaker’s success. Fear is a powerful motivator. Especially if someone is afraid of being labeled a trouble-maker or worse.
Cost: cannot be ascertained, only mourned for all women and men whose voices and creativity were silenced.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 May 2018
Photo found at businessresearcher.sagepub.com