Women Are Leading the Resistance, and Nobody is Talking About It
On a recent episode of the “Lovett or Leave It” podcast, a guest said “There is very little acknowledgement of the fact that the resistance movement is 80% female.”
This idea hit a resonating chord with me, and I can’t get it out of my head: “Women are leading the resistance, and nobody is talking about it.”
When I Google that phrase, article after article comes up headlined with the phrase “Women are leading the resistance against Trump.” People are writing about it. So then why does it seem like nobody in the media is talking about it?
The women’s march was the largest protest in U.S. history. Of all time. For a man who likes big numbers, that’s something the president seems to have completely ignored. How is it that ONE MAN inspired millions of protestors against him worldwide — in every continent and in every country? And-more importantly- why are our issues once again being pushed aside in the name of party unity and the greater resistance?
In his first 100 days, we have seen him push through a health care bill that rolls back coverage for prenatal care- a financial burden that solely falls on a woman’s shoulders to carry. We have seen Vice President Mike Pence cast the deciding vote to undo Title X, which will take away funding in poor and rural states that depend on Planned Parenthood for primary health care access in many areas. (Important note: Pence did a similar action while governor of Indiana, leading to an HIV outbreak- directly related to the lack of access to HIV screenings.)
In the Trumpcare bill that passed the House yesterday, domestic violence, sexual assault and rape are now considered preexisting conditions, as well as postpartum depression and C-sections. All are issues that primarily affect women. Denying healthcare for women’s issues, and making things like prenatal care more expensive, is another tool being used by the men running Congress to keep women financially less powerful. If we can’t get treatment for the trauma caused by the aggression against us, we are not able to stand up for ourselves in the workplace, in the streets, in our homes.
Since the fall election, we have seen women’s issues being sidelined from both sides of the aisle in order to pursue a greater agenda. When does it stop? When do our voices get heard? When do we stop compromising our rights in the name of the “greater good?”
I am tired of compromising. I am tired of fighting the Bernie Bro’s who swamp my Facebook comments anytime I mention something positive about Hillary Clinton. I am tired of trying to explain to “progressives” that sexism is real and was a huge factor in Hillary Clinton’s loss. I’m tired of fighting liberal misogyny that is hidden behind “progressive” idealism.
I think we are all tired. I think that the women’s march was massive because we all, as women, relate to what we see going on. And it took the United States electing a thrice-accused rapist and admitted sexual predator for us, as women, to recognize what we have in common: we have all been victims of sexual misconduct on the part of men.
Many of us have been raped. Many of us have been assaulted. Most of us have experience harassment. ALL of us have experienced sexism. All our lives, we have heard lewd jokes and seen behavior that made us uncomfortable. It made us feel small and gross and powerless. And those feelings are what hold us back from making our voices heard. The feelings of shame associated with rape and assault are what keep us silent, for many reasons: we protect our abusers, we don’t want to trigger others, we want to protect others’ feelings instead of standing up for our own rights.
It is a positive quality that women are empathetic. That helps us see problems and find solutions that benefit everyone. But it also leads us to put others’ needs before our own. I would like to make the argument here that putting women’s needs FIRST in any political agenda is something that will benefit any political party in the long run. Any inequality in a society affects the good of the entire society. Keeping women suppressed benefits the oligarchy that is currently in place, and no one else.
“Women are leading the resistance, and nobody is talking about it.”
But why aren’t we? Why aren’t we screaming in the streets every day about our basic human rights being denied?
Think about having been raped. Many of you reading this won’t have to imagine because you have had that experience. But for the rest of you, try to imagine having been physically forced to have sex with someone. Imagine years of post traumatic symptoms as a result. Imagine suffering through alcoholism and drug abuse and bulimia and anorexia. Imagine being afraid of every man you see. Imagine throwing tantrums too early on in every relationship so you push away anyone who cares about you. Imagine not being able to experience true intimacy because you are physically and emotionally unable to let someone get close to you. Imagine not believing anyone when they say they love you, because the abuse you have suffered at the hands of a man has ruined you to the point that you believe you are unlovable. Imagine accepting abusive relationships because that’s what you believe you deserve.
Imagine turning on the television and hearing the words “grab them by the pussy.” Imagine hearing a man bragging about it, on t.v., and never apologizing or acknowledging that it was wrong. Imagine fourteen women coming forward to say that they were personally assaulted by that man.
Imagine that man becoming President of the United States of America.
Imagine how you feel hearing his voice. Do you feel violated, over and over again? Knowing that this man has been accused of rape in a court of law by three separate women, do you feel safe? Do you feel there is justice? Do you feel that your rapist could also be out there, running for office, holding positions of power in politics, finance, film, tv, music industry? Do you remember how your trauma and shame has held you back from speaking up, from asking for a raise, from running for office, from demanding a promotion? Do you think about how the person who violated you has done it to so many others, and is seemingly unstoppable? Does this make you feel weak, powerless, silent?
This is the experience that we share as women. A lot of us won’t remember or won’t admit to being raped. A lot of us remember and downplay the abuse we’ve endured. We march for others- for our sisters and friends who have been raped, for the unknown other that we imagine is having a harder time than us. It is a victim’s tendency is to downplay their own abuse but be extremely empathetic towards others. RAINN says that 1 in 6 women have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape. From my experience in speaking up about women’s issues, I believe it is a much higher number. I believe that a lot of people are not speaking up about their experiences, have memory loss, or are ignorant of what rape is.
I believe that this ignorance is what is keeping us silent. We speak up for others. We are strong for others without realizing that we can be strong for ourselves. But I believe that telling our stories -out loud- dispels the shame we feel from the violations we have received. The shame is what is keeping us silent.
Last year, I spoke up about a serial abuser in the music industry. The hardest part wasn’t the bravery in coming forward about a story I had. The hardest part was hearing the stories of the hundreds of people who reached out to me and said “thank you for speaking up. This is what happened to me, and I’ve never been able to talk about it.” These stories were mostly from women, but there was a good amount of men as well. The stories ranged from rape to assault to harassment to sexism. One interviewer I talked to asked me “Do you think there’s so much sexism in the music industry because of how male dominated it is?” I thought about it for a while and answered, “What industry isn’t male dominated?”
I still have not found that answer. I have racked my brain and I can not find one.single.industry. where women are the leaders. Every Forbes Power list is male dominated. Women are not in the running to be CEO’s, to be promoted, to be leaders. Every woman CEO is an exception. Every successful female musician is assumed to be backed by a male producer. It’s 2017 and women are still regulated to the assistants and the secretaries.
“Women are leading the resistance-and no one is talking about it.”
We’re the ones making the calls to Senators to block the repeal of the ACA. We are being affective. We are doing the work, and we are still seeing that the men we are supporting are willing to negotiate on our reproductive rights. We make calls to support legislation drafted by men that benefits men.
What will it take for people to start talking about it? I think it’s important to recognize that, as a sex, we have been abused. We have been violated. We have seen our sisters violated. As women, we feel each other’s pain. To move forward, we need to recognize what has been keeping us back. The shame from abuse keeps us silent. Expelling the shame is the antidote to abuse. Shining light on the shame makes it disappear.
So, as someone who has endured much abuse in my life, I encourage you to recognize it and talk about it. Get a therapist. Talk to a trusted friend or family member. Speak up on social media. Our stories are real. Our stories make us human. Our stories make us stronger.
Let’s lead the revolution- and make everybody talk about it.