I woke up this morning to the new trending hashtag #MeAt14 on Twitter.
Many of the tweets are just images of girls at 14, who are obviously too young to be in any kind of sexual situation with a man in his 30’s such as Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.
But a few of them really got to me.
First was this one, which took me back to the time I was groped as a 14-year-old at a concert:
#MeAt14 I was a sweet, shy girl who had already been propositioned and groped by several men in their 30’s-40’s. I still haven’t spoken out with all their names because of fear.
— Lori (@Lorisadventure) November 13, 2017
This one, too, hit me pretty hard. I wish I had reacted this way back then:
Last night a stranger started groping me during a show at The Basement East. I punched him in the face. Welcome to 2017, asshole. — Emma Swift (@emmaswiftsings) November 12, 2017
But the one that hit me the hardest was this. This tweet, in fact, broke my heart all over again:
Me & my daughter when she was 14. I’ll be honest. If Roy Moore, or any other “man,” would’ve “dated” her or touched her sexually… they would be gone & I would be in prison now. #MeAt14 #Resist #PartyOfPedophiles pic.twitter.com/VsZmDZjT3q
— Chet Powell (@ChetPowell) November 12, 2017
Chet, I want you to know you’re what a dad should be. You’re what I wanted my dad to be. Don’t think I’m asking you not to post things like this or feel bad because your tweet opened up a wound for me. Keep being that dad so maybe some others will learn from you.
Like Alabama Evangelicals, My Dad Never Cared
Guess what? Newsweek has a poll out that says that, “Nearly 40 percent of Evangelical Christians in Alabama say they’re now more likely to vote for Roy Moore after multiple allegations that he molested children,” (Emphasis mine).
Let that sink in. EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS. And they’re MORE LIKELY to vote for the man now that he’s been accused of MOLESTING 14-YEAR-OLDS.
The first time I told my dad about a man being inappropriate with me, we were driving home from a funeral. I was 15, and we had left immediately after the service to drive back to the other side of North Carolina. As I sat in the back seat, staring morosely out the window thinking of my Aunt who had just passed, a truck passed us and a man easily in his thirties leaned out the window, leered and ran his tongue across his teeth at me.
It was like a punch in the gut. I reached up and tapped my dad on the shoulder and tried to tell him what had just happened. “Just be quiet,” he said. “I have to drive.”
I mentioned in my last post about another time my dad came home to find a boy leaving our home. Of course, the boy didn’t know and so neither did my dad that what had transpired there was not consensual. But he didn’t seem to care, either.
Just before this time last year, the infamous Access Hollywood tape came out that revealed Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault. People assumed that was the end of his candidacy, but of course my dad was still 100% on board the Trump Train.
We argued. I told him (or tried to) why his continued support hurt me personally. I told him what happened to me at 14. And he still didn’t care.
Watershed Moments Still Hurt
Between the #MeToo avalanche and all the women who’ve been speaking up about assault, harassment and rape lately, it feels like a watershed moment. Like maybe, just maybe, we’ll start being taken seriously.
But in the meantime, don’t forget that this still hurts. These are wounds being exposed for all the world to see, and seeing them is causing many many more to come open in private.
It’s not time to hide the pain. It’s not time to pretend we’re tough. No. It’s time to feel it. It’s time to unleash every ounce of it on the world, in all it’s bloody, tearful ugliness. Strength isn’t pretending something doesn’t hurt. Maybe you have to take that Xanax or drink the wine to get through. There’s nothing wrong with that – What I’m saying is don’t put on the “everything’s fine” face for the world if you’re reeling inside.
The world has made us pretend “everything’s fine” for too long. Good girls don’t cry. Good girls don’t raise a fuss. And that’s how they’ve kept us quiet and preyed on us and made US feel like the bad person for complaining about it.
Fuck that noise. Enough is enough.
Their greatest fear is that we will dive deep into that pain, screaming our agony for all the world to hear. They can ignore us if we’re “too strong” to be real. They can ignore us if we act like it doesn’t hurt.
So let’s be strong. Let’s make them feel the full force of our agony and they’ll never forget.