Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Checking the Boxes

If you want to read this post, and I cordially invite you to do so, I humbly request you read this very informative article explaining the background of what I am writing about. I assure you, you will be rewarded with some very fine gems if you do. But it does talk about rape and harassment and the failure of men in power to believe women. So please take care if you decide to proceed.

It's funny because there was so much news this weekend that I didn't know I had been mentioned in the Deseret News until my aunt emailed me. And it wasn't as if I was mentioned by name, really. In fact I had to go to my source to make sure that the person in question was actually me. You see, the line reads, "He referenced a former Provo city employee and congressional campaign staffer and a city councilwoman who have criticized his leadership and said some people are trying to "destroy" him." 

That's hefty allegation I guess. Trying to destroy him? Whoa. I really wanted to write a public statement after it was confirmed that the "Provo city employee and congressional campaign staffer" was me but I didn't have time until this morning (Tuesday at 6am) and if I can hardly find the time to just write a quick rebuttal then HOW DO I FIT IN TRYING TO DESTROY A WHITE MAN'S LIFE in my schedule? You know? I mean, DESTROY! I've watched enough Game of Thrones (don't Google that Mom) to know you don't just wake up casually and destroy a life. Especially of a man in high power--a CONGRESSMAN! Who does that? Look at what Stormy Daniel's had to do just to tell her story! And even then, 75% of Family Values Utah GOP will remain cool with D. Trump and will continue to support the CONGRESSMEN who vote with him every single day of their lives. 

Look, Arya Stark had to recite that list in her head for a long time before she could even begin to do her work of destruction! Plus she had to train in serious sword fighting and face-swapping. And while I do have a list (which I call my Manemies List--a collection of enemy men who have done women wrong) my former boss and white male congressman is not even close to the top! That spot is still occupied by the dude who put a hit on me by the stake relief society presidency and had them follow me (which they obediently did) a few years ago. (If you aren't Mormon you'll have no idea what drama I just dropped, but anyway). I still see him around town and think of his demise. (I am not perfect!) I also just moved another dude to a top spot for divorcing my friend for not being sexy enough. Oh lawd my list is long and fruitful.

But the truth is, I did criticize him publicly. I mean, not SUPER publicly. Not like, as publicly as I could have. In a community facebook thread (which I didn't even post!) I showed up to defend the five women who said my former boss (and white male congressman) didn't do much after they came forward with sexual harassment against Provo's police chief. It was a hot news item, showing up in three major papers and then the congressman wrote a pathetic op-ed response in which he said he only ever heard two allegations as his time as mayor. And he took them "seriously."

And then oops. A few days ago he "remembered" there were actually three allegations bought up. Which he DEFINITELY took "seriously" and then forgot them, I guess?  Anyway, I am a woman who has also experienced being dismissed (and dumped, to be honest) for bringing up sexual harassment, sexism and homophobia with the white straight male congressman on his campaign and was told I was being "insubordinate" and something about my tone being off and then when I defended my tone I was told my timing was wrong and so on and so forth (a story I really don't want to get into for my own emotional health) and saw other women be treated like shit (I learned that word from you Mom, don't judge) in both offices I worked in and so guess what I BELIEVE THE WOMEN.

And even had I not had these experiences, I have chosen to always always BELIEVE WOMEN because the price they pay for coming forward is so extreme. It's so devastating. Any man who says "we have to be careful because lives could be ruined" about women coming forward and being "fair" to the man accused doesn't believe women. When you're sexually harassed and you decide to come forward its because your life is already ruined. It's your last hope to be compensated for all your loss. And it's hugely risky. And most of the time the dude walks unscathed and maybe even made a congressman, or like PRESIDENT. So to even utter the phrase "lives could be ruined" essentially means, "I don't believe these women, and even still I only value male lives."

And as I read more of this article it became more and more like a farce, or like an SNL sketch. And before the weekend was through, I was listening to friends read the whole thing in dramatic reading fashion! My lands, the laughs we had. I mean, it's cinematic! Classic white male material! Should be required in feminist theory classes in college! There's classic male victimhood, with the punctuation of male tears! There's the whole "women want more than just to check the boxes" and "they need a lot of emotional support and understanding" (women are pets?) bit! And the part where he says he allowed his predator chief to"retake" sexual harassment training ("Oops, you forgot and grabbed a woman's thigh--you should probably brush up on that training again!")! And don't forget how he decided to take care of the problem by insisting that his own police chief was chaperoned when he went to certain areas of his jurisdiction so he wouldn't be "misunderstood". Right? Because when your police chief calls your boobs "puppies" it could be "misunderstood". We've all been there. Understandable.

But the crowning moment for me really was the part about how he wakes up every day in a cold sweat worried about what he might be accused of that day. Like, most of us women are waking up hoping that we aren't harassed that day, you know like the other day when I went for a walk and a man walking his dog started yelling at me some vulgar joke about the way my body bounced when I walked fast. Or we worry about not getting a job (or being removed from a job) because we won't put up with our co-workers gazey eyes or gross jokes about our bodies. I mean, while this white male congressman who is fairly wealthy is worried about this scandal making it hard for him to get an executive job or raise money for his re-election, black men are waking up hoping they won't get shot for holding a cell phone in their backyard. 

After all this, why would I--a mother of four busy young children--take anytime out of my life to destroy a congressbro's life when he's so obviously doing a good enough job on his own?  And this is a man up until last week I still held out hope for! Even after all the crap I experienced and witnessed, there still remained a lasting faith in him--however slightly. But his response to the charges pretty much destroyed (to use a word) any good will I had left. And not only that, my family is fully aware that I will divert time and resources to show up for women (and sometimes that means I ignore them to write an unedited, messy post on my blog in defense, and they will have to fend for themselves for breakfast) but I will not spare one tiny ounce of my over-scheduled, under-funded, over-budget life to execute the destruction of a privileged dude who refuses to get help for his own deeply ingrained misogyny.

I mean, that's just not a good investment of energy sources. I don't have to be a lawmaker to get that.