As an adult woman, I have lived through the progression from encountering sexual harassment in the workplace, to coming to understand that it happensand everyone knows about it, to now the #MeToo movements. That journey has allowed me to feel anger for the first time about things that happened more than 35 years ago, and that are still happening now far too often.
I think about the boss that raped me after my first night at work as a bartender, and how I didn’t say anything, and went back to work the next night, because I was young, and alone in a strange town, and needed the job to support my daughter. And how I made sure to stay away from my boss, who looked at me strangely for a while, like he was wondering what I would do.
I feel rage now for what happened to my 22-year-old self. At the time I felt shame — surely it was my fault somehow. And then I felt nothing for a long long time about it because I pushed it out of my mind. It happened. It couldn’t be changed. There was no sense thinking about it.
If I had been my SuperHero self then, I would have strode into that bar the following day, snatched that contemptible little man up by the front of his shirt and told him that if he even looked at me again with so much as a speck in his eye, he would face lawsuits and criminal charges and a swift kick in the important area of his Speedo underwear.
I don’t think we can underestimate the amount of anger women feel.
Regardless of your political leanings, watching candidate Trump stalk his female opponent Hilary Clinton in the nationally televised second debate was uncomfortable — I felt my shoulders growing tense as he walked up behind her, standing too close when she spoke. It was a tactic of intimidation, not even conscious on his part. It’s what happens all the time to men who intimidate women.
My former husband used to beat the bejesus out of me so often that I have described it humorously in the past as being like a grown-up version of the arcade game Whack-A-Mole. When a right-handed man hits you in the head often enough, you come to know the rhythm of his swing, and the time it takes for him to draw back his arm to strike again. I would bury my head between my arms and absorb the blow as much as I could, and then pop my head up to spit back my defiance in the time it took him to reload. Then I would duck my head again, turtle-like.
It makes me sick to write those words publicly now. It makes me more sick to know that my children were watching. Oh, how I wish I had been strong — both physically and emotionally — and had been able to push back against his aggression, back him away from me, and made him think twice about the wisdom of hitting a woman again.
I used to daydream about having a secret Girl Vigilante Gang that received word of a wife beater (maybe there was some kind of bat signal?) and showed up, silent and stealthy, to beat the tar out of a man like that. Worse than the beating, I knew, would be a beating at the hands of women. But I didn’t know of any badass women like that, except maybe Sara Connor. And Crossfit wasn’t a thing yet, where women could become strong and buff.
Look, there is a time for ass-kicking, and we may be there.
I am not a man-hater by any means. I have sons, sons-in-law, and grandsons that I adore, as well as a good and honorable husband. I don’t believe in war per se — I think we need to do a lot more listening, and a lot more trying to find common ground in every area of life.
But there are some really rotten people afoot — Hitler-esque, even. And people like that don’t stop because you ask them to. They stop when they are made to stop. Except no one seems to be making it a priority for some of these guys to stop.
All over the world, rape has been widely used as a weapon of war more devastating than any firepower, deliberately infecting women with HIV and impregnating them, as well as stigmatizing them in their own communities. And yet, nothing of substance is done about it — no one rolls up on these “This is my weapon, this is my gun” animals and does any real disarming. Wonder Woman, on the other hand, could inflict some real damage.
Clergy from every denomination — every damn religion and every sect— are known to prey on children and women sexually. And doctors. And cops. And teachers. We arrest them when we catch them. We make it hard to prosecute them by doubting their victims when they come forward. And then we slap their little wrists, tell them that this is their last chance, and we worry about screwing up their reputations and their futures.
We’ve talked, we’ve tweeted, we’ve written and we’ve marched. In response, we’ve been called feminazi’s and harpies, immoral and unf*ckable. We create spaces for ourselves wherein we can let down our guard and feel safe, and we are challenged for being exclusionary. As if the whole world isn’t male-centered currently.
Women are ready to be their own superheroes.
There’s a reason why the women of Wakanda were so striking in the movie Black Panther. The women warriors are strong, skilled, and best of all, highly valued and trusted. There’s a reason why Wonder Woman was also such a hit for DC, and Marvel has plans to answer the call with Black Widow.
One of my favorite pieces on Medium is from Shannon AshleyYou Can Be Your Own Damn Hero
And quit waiting to be saved by everybody else.medium.com
I feel like women are deciding they will be responsible for their own safety since they can’t rely on it from anywhere else. Women want to be stronger, tougher and more proactive because being softer, sweeter and more pliable has gotten us raped, abused and killed.
We’re taking charge of the retirement account and the financial planning because too many of us have done the unpaid work throughout long marriages and ended up with poverty in retirement after divorce.
We would love to be equal partners in a world that values both the masculine and the feminine, but this is not that world in 2019. So we’re creating worlds for ourselves.
Like real superheroes.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I’ve written about women and how badass we are before if you’re interested