Was listening to a 70's song on the radio a couple days ago. It's called "I am woman," by Helen Reddy. It's really a powerful anthem, and women have been singing it during the marches in Washington DC and other cities. Some of the lyrics:
"I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an' pretend
'Cause I've heard it all before
And I've been down there on the floor
No one's ever gonna keep me down again"
And I thought, gosh, women have been saying this since 1971, and feeling this for god knows how many more decades and centuries before the 70's. And here we are, in 2018 y'all, and we are still singing this damn song because dammit, it's still relevant.
Just look at the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. Just hear Christine Blasey Ford's testimony about being pinned down under an inebriated male and groped. Tell me you didn't cry because the sincerity of her account rang so true to you.
And tell me your blood pressure didn't rise during Kavanaugh's testimony. Yes, a man is innocent until proven guilty. But this isn't the court of law we are talking about. This is a hearing to determine if a federal judge is worthy of serving on the highest court in the United States. This is a job interview, for crying out loud. And Kavanaugh, whether he was guilty of sexual assault or not, gave his worst interview yet. He was rude and aggressive and uncooperative.
At a gathering, my white male friend said he really felt for Kavanaugh and sympathized with his anger. "Because I have been falsely accused," he said. "It's a good thing I had an alibi and it came to nothing. But there are women out there who do this."
Do you know how many women experience sexual assault and don't come forward? I countered. Do you know the stats on that? Versus the stats on men being falsely accused?
My friend went on to say he'd been messed around with. "What you may today consider assault, but then it was just bullying," he said. He'd had guys pin him down and place genitals close to his face.
I told him that wasn't okay either! Good grief, is it not assault if it happens to men? And just because men consider that "horsing around" and not "assault," should they assume that it's okay to do this to women?
There's a lot of talk about rape culture, and what constituted rape in the 80's. If a boy or man you knew had nonconsensual sex with you, that was NOT considered rape. It was just you getting into trouble because you were drinking, you were at a party, you were wearing a short skirt, you were asking for it. You did NOT complain after, how much ever you may have complained DURING the act. If you complained or filed a report with the police, you were shamed, looked down upon as a slut.
And this was in the United States, folks!
So. We have a long way to go.
I tried talking about this to Raina. She didn't want to hear it. Because she's grown up believing certain things are self-evident. That girls can say 'no' and mean it. That boys will stop when girls say 'no.' That girls are as smart as boys. That women should be paid according to ability on par with men, duh. Duh, mommy.
She doesn't get the lyrics in the song.
"Oh yes, I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman."
She already know this. As important, my son knows this. So there's hope.