The Club No Woman Wants to Join

A friend of mine posted on Facebook that she spoke with a young woman yesterday who didn’t know about the Supreme Court Justice confirmation hearings and didn’t know that Roe v. Wade was in jeopardy of being overturned. I am not surprised. Young people don’t watch the news, read the newspaper, or pay attention to what is going on.

The Daily Show was a big source of news for young people when John Stewart was the man. I don’t know how many people still watch it, but I don’t hear much about from my kids anymore. Speaking of kids, one of them doesn’t even own a television set. These days everything is done online. They are streaming everything but aren’t following politics.

The older women of America sure are. We are incensed by the thought of going back to the olden days when pregnant women had illegal abortions where some were performed with a coat hanger. If that were to happen to American women, the Handmaid’s Tale can’t be too far behind.

While they are at it, why don’t they take away our right to vote, too? Tell us we can’t drive?  Or own property? I’ve said it before and will say it again, if men were raped at the rate women are in this country, things would change.  How many of us listened to Christine Blasey Ford and believed her? We, who have been assaulted, believe her every word.

I look at Ashley Judd of Hollywood and get why she was raped at fifteen.  She is luminous, full of life, and somebody wanted her and didn’t wait to ask her permission. She says she doesn’t remember how she got home that night, just like Dr. Ford.  What sexual assault victims do remember is the actual assault.  It is burned into the brain for life. The rest of the details fall away over time. I often wonder, am I the only survivor who can still see the room where it happened? The party where I felt dizzy after too many drinks? The stairwell where I puked after my girlfriends found me?

It’s funny, there were five of us going to that party that night, but three of the faces have faded away. I remember my sophomore year roommate, that’s all. I often wonder if the other women remember what happened and are thinking of it this week with the hearing. We didn’t discuss it. I didn’t report it. None of my college friends reported it. There was nowhere to report it. There were no rape hotlines back then.

The guys from that dorm party knew it was me. I had to walk under the arch past their dorm to get to class. For two weeks a couple of guys taunted me from their third floor window. They laughed at me and reminded me of what had happened. As though I needed a reminder. When Dr. Ford said the thing she remembered most was their laughter, I could relate. I was laughed at, too. It was funny to those two guys. I have no idea if one of them was the actual perpetrator. I never looked up, didn’t speak, didn’t stop walking. They eventually gave up since I wasn’t going to play.

I stuffed it down in order to finish the quarter. I had five classes to pass. I wasn’t going to let my assault derail my plans of earning my degree. Of course I was enraged. And upset. I didn’t talk to anyone about it. But everyone knew. I could feel it in the community bathroom where we all lined up at the mirrors to brush our teeth and put on our make-up. Girls who didn’t usually say hi to me were saying hello. I’d get a hand squeeze or a half hug from some of them.  It was not discussed. No one knew what to say to me. I had nothing to say about any of it.

I was relieved the day I got my period. At least I didn’t have to deal with a pregnancy.

I didn’t tell my parents or three of my siblings. My brothers were too young. I almost told my younger sister last night. But I couldn’t do it. The words wouldn’t come out. My older sister knows. I told her fourteen years after it happened. I told my ex-husband before I married him. I told some friends recently, forty years later. I told my two daughters before they went off to college.

“Be careful at parties. Always go with a friend. Don’t set your drink down. Don’t drink too much. Always be aware of your surroundings.”

This is the world we females live in. I didn’t find out until I was eighteen. Christine Blasey Ford was fifteen.

I believe every word that she said.

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