Look your daughter in the eye

I want to start this by apologizing to my family and friends who are just now learning things that I never really wanted them to know. Things that I have kept to myself for years. Things I have talked around and alluded to but never really revealed. Things that I didn’t want anyone else to know. I apologize that this is how you are learning these things. That you are just now learning about the guilt and shame and pain that I have kept locked away. Most of all though, I am ANGRY — yes capital letter angry — ANGRY that it is a Presidential election that has driven me to the point where I feel the need to share these things publicly.

I have been sexually assaulted, more than once. I have been groped, demeaned, backed against walls, locked into cars and rooms, held down with hands going up my shirt and down my pants and under my skirt. I have been told that if I wasn’t such a frigid bitch, I would just give in and let them do what they knew I really wanted. I have had men, too many men, who felt they were entitled to touch me, to talk to me in the crudest of terms, to take a smile or kind word or even a mild flirtation to mean that I wanted and expected them to take me to bed and then crudely belittled me, demeaned me or, worse yet, got physical with me because I wasn’t giving them what they felt they were entitled to. I don’t want to go into any more details. No one else needs to carry those visuals and that soundtrack around but me. Through it all, I learned to live with it. I learned to not let those memories stop me from having relationships, from having a satisfactory sex life, from not expecting every man I met to be the same way or want the same things. I learned, through a lot of hard work and some truly wonderful men who were patient and understanding when I freaked out, to not be scared around every man, to trust that there were good men out there who did not think that just because I was a woman that I was property to be manhandled in whatever way they felt entitled.

I grew a very thick skin. I learned how to be comfortable in my own skin. I learned that my worth was not contingent on my sexuality, my looks or my willingness to share my body with anyone I did not want to share it with.

I know a lot of the women reading this will recognize the scenario and will have their own visuals and soundtrack start playing in their heads. I could also place a very strong bet that if every man reading this were to ask the women in their lives whether they have experienced anything like this, the vast majority would say Yes. And Gentlemen, I’ll also bet you never knew. You probably never thought this could happen to the women in your life. You’re a good guy, maybe you only make jokes in the locker room or on guys’ night out, so nobody would treat the women in your life like this. Sadly, you are wrong. So very wrong.

So why do I share this now? Why am I letting everything that I have tried so hard to keep locked away out now. Because revelations about a presidential candidate have pried open the Pandora’s Box that I have worked so hard to keep locked. Boy, did I never expect to say these words — A Presidential Candidate has triggered my anxiety, pain, sorrow and some truly horrible memories.

There is so much more I could say. So much more I don’t want to say. So many things I am trying so hard to stuff back in that box and put a double deadbolt on it. But I can’t because there is so much more at stake now. At stake is our national conscience. At stake is what our young people and children grow up to feel is acceptable and normal. We tell our children that any young person can grow up to be President. In giving them that belief, we intentionally or unintentionally tell them to follow the example of current and past Presidents and they too have the chance to be in that office. To address what many of you are thinking, yes we have had Presidents behave badly, very badly, in the past, but that does not mean we should not do everything we can to prevent it in the future. If our excuse every single time is going to be that so-and-so did it before or look at what she/he has done, we are just proving that we are a nation of five year olds who do not know how to take a stand for what is right.

So if we elect Donald Trump what are we telling our kids? We are telling them that being a bully is ok. We are telling them that treating people of different colors, ethnicities, religions or economic status as if they are less then us is ok. We are telling them that calling people names is normal. We are telling them that cheating your way to the top is ok.

And now we are telling them that treating women as property to be used in any way we want is ok. We are telling them that it is acceptable to degrade and demean women to just sexual objects. We are telling them that if they want someone sexually they are entitled to just take them, by force, against their will and without their consent. Is that what we really want to be telling them? Is that really the message that we want our girls to receive? Is that what we really want our boys to believe is acceptable behavior? Not My Boys!

So to all my friends and family who are voting for Trump, I ask you to do a couple of things for me. First I want you to think about what you would do or say to your sons or the young men in your life if they behaved that way. If they said the things about women that Trump has said. If they admitted to aggressively sexually assaulting women. Then, when caught, read an apology that was clearly written by someone else, that was delivered without any obvious sincerity. If they used the “well someone else did it” or “someone else is worse” excuse for their own behavior. What would you do? What would you say to them? Would this be acceptable behavior on their part? If not, then why do you find it acceptable in the man you want to hold the highest office in our country and who will be the face of the United States to the world?

Then I want you to look your daughters and granddaughters and nieces in the eye and tell them that you are voting for a man who believes they are nothing but sexual objects and that if they are not pretty and “hot” that they are not worthy. That you so dislike the other person (woman!) running that you are are more willing to allow a man who talks, behaves and believes these things about women to be President, that you are not willing to stand up for them and say this is not acceptable and I will not allow someone who feels, talks and behaves this way to lead our country.