Me too.

If you're on Facebook, you have seen countless "Me too" status updates blanketing the landscape (on Twitter, it's #metoo). If you aren't, you may not be aware that a couple days back, in response to the Harvey Weinstein revelations and fallout, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted a note that read "Suggested by a friend: If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote "Me too" as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem."

The number of affirmatives in my feed -some strong, some quiet, some timid, some furious, some resigned, some now empowered- seems to be at 99%. This number doesn't surprise me; in fact, I'm surprised that I've seen one, just one, who says she hasn't experienced harassment or assault. I am inordinately grateful for her fortune, and I hope she remains free of such a disgusting experience for the rest of her days. 

I have always felt pretty lucky in this regard. I have never been sexually assaulted, an experience that is not rare enough when you look at the ugly statistics. Actually, when I look at the statistics, I'm flabbergasted that I haven't been. It's wrenching to know that vast swaths of women have been violated with such regularity and impunity.

I have not, to any memory that I can recall, been made to feel stupid or incapable or less than for being a woman. I was raised by a father who absolutely felt my sister and I could do anything we wanted to, and I married a man who is a total feminist. I have had multiple male mentors who believed in me deeply and proudly, and for them all, I am grateful.

But I have been ogled, cat-called, and put in positions by many male bosses (in Chicago, New York, and Boston) that were and are unacceptable. Scenarios in which I was sexualized and in which their suggestive, leering looks, words, and behaviors made me exceptionally uncomfortable and pissed off. Only once can I remember feeling unsafe (again, I am profoundly lucky), but the sleazy, goosebump, hair on the back of my neck sensations were as upsetting, albeit in different ways.

It puts a woman in the position of having to keep herself safe, employed, and/or not ridiculed or demeaned further. Being in a position of unequal power when sexual overtones are blowing through the air forces women to start rapidly calculating the best way of handling a sick situation. Do I blow it off? Confront the man? Run?

And all of it sticks. Last night, I had trouble falling asleep and just a few hours in, I awoke to Tom hugging me and saying, "Honey, honey, it's just a dream. You're ok." I had been screaming out, for in my nightmare I was being assaulted and I was desperate for help. Something about seeing everyone's me toos must have lodged in my psyche, loosening the knowledge of how many of us have experienced degradation just how many times.

Like I said, I am not remotely surprised by the number of women writing "Me too" or by the number who are coming forward to share how and when they were violated by Weinstein. Just look at all who came out against Cosby. Against the grotesque being who is now our president*.

Harassment is such a regular experience in most women's lives. It's like white noise, and that is sick. Assault is stunningly common. It is about power and dominion by some over others. Those who cover it up, who pay it off, who perpetrate it, who excuse it, and who discount the women who bravely speak out are all equally culpable for perpetuating an unequal, unsafe, unsavory, obnoxious, offensive world in which too many women must live and navigate. And that is the power of this social media campaign: it shows the extent of violation and intimidation that women have been subjected to.

If you're surprised by the numbers then you need to do some reading.

If you have ever doubted women when they share their experiences with you, stop it. The numbers of false claims of assault are stunningly low. 

If you have ever acted in a way that would cause a woman to say "me too," you need to do some thinking and change your behavior. It is UNacceptable

If you are raising sons, it is never too early to talk about respecting others' bodies and minds. It is never too early to talk about the strength of women, the value of emotion, the importance of listening, the importance of being able to say and hear "No." Our sons must be the sort of men who would stop the Weinsteins and Cosbys and trumps of the world rather than enable, excuse, or cover for them in any way.

It shouldn't be luck that keeps us safe.

**Claims against trump:

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Miscellaneous

Today was my dad's last day of work. All he has left to do is clean out his office. I'm so proud of and excited for him. And Mom! Isn't he cute?

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Today was also the day trump said that he'd spoken with the president of the US Virgin Islands (um, dummy, YOU are the president of the USVI) and that we found out Rick Perry called Puerto Rico a country yesterday during the House Energy and Commerce hearing about rebuilding downed grids post-Maria.

“That is a country that already had its challenges before this storm,” Perry said.

I wonder if, when Representative Kathy Castor retorted that "It's America. They’re American citizens, so it’s not a country,” she felt murderous or flabbergasted or vaguely bemused that the Dancing With the Stars guy who once planned to get rid of the department he now heads but first forgot what it was has not gotten smarter since being confirmed for the PRESIDENTIAL CABINET.

As there is absolutely nothing good to say about the state of things in America right now, I'll move on to good food and books and a quick shout-out to the Chicago Cubs for beating the Nationals last night in the divisional playoffs. Go CUBBIES!!!!!! You can do it again! (But only if you get your bullpen in order; OMG, your pitching was weak last night).

We have been eating simply and well of late. OMG, y’all, the children are asking for something else. Grr. I will talk about food and books tomorrow.

Disgrace

I’m no stranger to descriptive language or emotion, but the past two days have plunged me into a depth I’ve visited just several times since that horrible excuse for a human became “president.”

Certainly November 9 was wretched, as was Inauguration Day, Charlottesville, the complete theft of a Supreme Court seat, and repeated healthcare debacles.

But something about Evil Yam’s impotent responses to hurricanes Harvey and Irma followed by his vastly stupid and offensive Twitter tantrums against those athletes who chose to take a knee compounded by his appalling invalidation of the suffering of Americans in Puerto Rico and the USVI in the wake of Maria plus his asinine verbal cock-fight with “little Rocket Man” in which actual nuclear weapons are at play all topped off by the horrific and largely preventable massacre in Las Vegas has hellfired me down to the abyss.

That our idiot “leader” finally got his ass to Puerto Rico where he threw rolls of paper towels to desperate citizens like they were eager parade groupies during Mardi Gras, told everyone how minimal their damage was because “only sixteen” have died (arguable and not substantiated), accused Puerto Rico of fucking with our budget, and then said the few hours he spent on the island were “really, really lovely” as if he’d just gotten a goddamn mani-pedi at a slightly nicer-than-usual place is all stunningly deplorable.

So is the fact that he offered Las Vegas his “warmest condolences.” What does that even mean? Did Las Vegas’s guppy just die? Or did more than 500 people just get gunned down by a crazy guy with twenty assault rifles hiding like a coward psycho on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay?  

Its the latter, people. 

Plus, can you even imagine how different the “lone wolf” narrative would be if Paddock were black or Muslim? I cannot even. There are more white domestic terrorists in this country than any others. And guns are their primary weapon. Accept it. 

“Thoughts and prayers” without action are now officially offensive.  

Today I noted on Facebook that more Americans have died from guns since 1968 than in all wars in which America has fought. Ever.  

A relative of mine replied, “I don't know if these numbers are accurate but I personally will mow down with my AK-47 anyone who ever tries to take my guns.”

There are no words for how disgusted, furious, embarrassed, and stunned I was and continue to be by such coarse, tone-deaf, selfish, shameful machismo. I am mortified and grossed out and that guy isn’t a singular example of too many people in this country. 

We, the US, are in the direst of straits.  I am utterly stunned by how quickly trump’s poison has courses through the country’s vascular system. The weaknesses were there, no doubt, but wow.

Eight months in and we are ravaged.  

Oh, and did you hear the one about the Republicans trying to pass a bill to make silencers available to everyone? They’re dying to protect hunters’ ears but I could swear hunters already have easy access to ear protection. You know who doesn’t have protection? People being fired at by an asshole hiding 32 floors above them. Know how they were warned? Because of the fucking sound of the constant gun shots (oh, because that great white American also had access to a neat toy that turned his semi-automatic guns into fully automatic ones. Isn’t that swell? And then he killed himself like a pansy-ass coward so I guess the state of his ears didn’t much matter in the end.)

Oh, and did you also see that today the House passed a bill to ban all abortions after 20 weeks? Only victims of rape get an exemption and even that is a maybe. These guys making all these decisions about women’s bodies totally get it. I mean, they as strangers absolutely know how I might feel if raped or with an unplanned child. And being pro-gun, their pro-life decrees ring SO sincere.

I have almost no hope for this country. It is letting down almost all of its citizens and the world. It is a disgrace.

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