Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Not a big enough safety pin (trigger warning--rape culture)

After a long year, it is finally time to put 2016 in the rear-view mirror. Unfortunately, the events of 2016 are now sitting drunk in the backseat, looking for a taco truck, and loudly lecturing you on the fact that poor people are the real reason that poor people are poor. It won’t be so bad if you had fun at the party where 2016 latched onto you like a gropey racist uncle; but let’s be honest, no party is ever good when the DJ decides to leave early and has ingeniously wired the sound system to talk show radio in a way that no one can figure out how to turn it off.

I was so hoping that after the longest election in human history that I could get back to the really important things in life: writing bad Necronomicon satire and posting cat pictures. But no, 2016 has decided that my couch is a good place to sleep off its hangover—soon, my floor will be knee deep with pornography and empty pizza boxes. It would be OK if 2016 planned on paying some of the rent; but 2016 is going on and on about this really cute billionaire it has met, who merely wanted a few votes and tax breaks, and you just know that 2016 is going to stiff you for all the bills until long after the cute billionaire had broken their heart.

(Is that description too harsh? Too bad—the thousand random typewriting monkeys are still trying to find someone to read their iteration of Hamlet, so you are stuck with me, the happy little cynic.)

To say that 2016 disappointed me, outside of a couple of writing goals, is a vast understatement, kind of like saying that the surface of the sun is a little warm. During the course of 2016, I was called a Neo-Nazi, a racist, and a traitor to the country because I supported the idea of a woman President. The cherry on top of this dung sundae was the fact that back in 2011, I predicted that the first woman President would be Sarah Palin, and that someday Trump would run for President and actually win. It is a sad year when you are forced to watch one of your least favorite predictions come true.

(Yes, yes, I know—I doomed all of us when I predicted that. The line to slap me with a dead fish starts on the right. Or is it the left? Yes, I am as confused by political directions as much as I am confused by compass directions; that is what happens when you stand in the middle of the crossroads for too long.)

I will admit that I was a little shocked to learn that I was a Neo-Nazi, racist, and a traitor; the sole evidence of such being the fact that I am a former journalist and Bernie supporter (later Clinton supporter) who shares liberal news on Facebook.

But not as shocked as I was to learn that…

[A shiny metal robot with rubber arms starts shouting, “Danger Wilma Seeker! Trigger warning!” and waving its arms in panic.]

(Seriously—trigger warning—I am about to talk about rape culture.)

…all women who claim to been subjected to unwanted sexual advances, up to and including rape, are just dirty filthy liars.

Now before we go any further, let’s be clear about something: Not all Trump supporters are evil people. Some of them are very nice people. Not all Trump supporters are Neo-Nazis, KKK, racist women haters. The only thing that we can positively conclude about Trump supporters is that Trump being endorsed by Neo-Nazis and the KKK, his calling Republicans dumb enough to elect him (his words, not mine), and his “grab them by the pussy” comments were not deal breakers for his supporters.

Quite simply, a lot of Trump supporters voted for him because they believe that he is their best bet to bring jobs back to their states. The most important factor in their voting for Trump was his economic promises. They were not voting for racism or pussy-grabbing; they were voting for jobs. Their concerns about the economy outweighed any concern that they had about his less-than-savory stage presence.

Unfortunately, this creates a problem for them. Few voters are willing to admit that they would vote for a known ax murderer as long as they feel the candidate is going to address their most urgent concerns. Most people like to think of themselves as nice people, the type that would not sell out the finer points of polite society (tolerance and respect for other human beings) for things like money and success. And it was in the service of their self-perceived noble image, the idea that they are really good and decent human beings, that we got to watch some of the most amazing mental gymnastics and contortions seen outside of the tents of the Royal Jaundice Shakespeare Company.

When rumors of Trump being okay with giving women unwanted sexual attentions surfaced, many of his supporters responded that it was just a character assassination attempt by less-than-patriotic individuals. Then when the tape recording actually surfaced, not only was it character assassination, but they argued that he was unaware that it was a hot microphone and therefore, it should not be used against him (sorry as a public figure, he should be always aware of hot mics). When others responded “But he said it!” then they argued that it was just locker room talk. But it really got appalling when women started to come forward, confirming that Trump was someone who subjected them to unwanted sexual advances because one could see one of the worst aspects of rape culture in stark relief.

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of “rape culture,” it consists of several pillars: one, women invite rape by being too attractive; two, men can’t control their sexual urges and therefore, are the real victims; three, “real” men are sexually aggressive; four, it is wrong to punish a man for making a simple mistake if they have potential to do great things; five, being the worst, women lie about being raped.

It is that last part, especially in light of Trump supporter’s defense of his pussy-grabbing comment that made me sick to my stomach. Basically, the argument went that the women coming forward were lying; and that if he had really subjected them to unwanted sexual advances, they should have complained and reported it when it occurred. When it was pointed out that this man held their future careers in his hands, supporters came back with “But he helped their careers.” When it was pointed out that such advances often lead to rape, his defenders argued that rape is not a real problem in this country because of the low number of reported instances. When confronted with the fact that rapes do go unreported, his defenders argued that they would have reported it because they were strong individuals and could not understand why it would go unreported. And if that was not injury enough, some defenders went as far as to argue that if there was even one case of a woman falsely accusing someone of rape, all such reports were lies (aka “no rapes actually occur—they are all false reports”).

One night during this spirited defense of Trump, I found myself in front of my computer crying. (Yes, I know—real men don’t ever cry.) I had just been told that I was misinterpreting one of the most traumatic Tarot readings I ever done (one of the reasons I refuse to do it for a living)—a reading for someone who was debating whether or not to report a rape. There is nothing like doing a reading for a crying client who experienced such a horrifying event to test your soul. The logic of the defender was that if it really happened, the woman should have automatically reported it—and therefore, the client had been lying to me while I was reading her cards. The defender quite honestly (unless they are just a knuckle dragging troll) could not wrap their mind around the idea that rape is hard to talk about, and is often unreported because of the “upstanding” individuals who rape have power over the woman. This troll (because I am unwilling to give them much benefit of the doubt) even told my friends who revealed their own horrible experiences (some of which involved underage experiences at the hands of relatives) that they were lying because if it really happened, it should have been reported at the time and because decades had passed in some cases, the events were all being made up.

So why the hell was I crying? Well, follow the logic—if such a traumatic experience had happened, it should have been promptly reported; therefore, no report meant the event did not actually occur. Extending this logic, the very fact that I did not report the child abuse I suffered as a child (including one instance where my dear mother beat me within an inch of my life, trying to drive the witchcraft and devil out of me) means that it simply did not happen. No wonder I was crying.

And that is just one of the many reasons why I took this last Presidential election so personally. It is just one of the many reasons that I have to openly remind myself that Trump supporters are not necessarily bad people (having lived for several years in such a conservative area, I know what the more likable of his supporters are like), but more likely voted for jobs and the prospect of a better economy—that they did not vote for his odious personality, but rather the hope of a better life. It does not make me any happier that he won, but it does help me understand that my deal breakers are not the same as other people’s. It is also a stark reminder that we have a long way to go in terms of basic human rights and basic decency because if this wasn’t a deal breaker for half the country, what is?!?

No comments: