by Rose Madder

Over the past 3 days, social media has been flooded with posts about rape culture in our society. Some women (and a few men) have been brave enough to share their personal experiences. Others have chosen to participate in “me too” to expose the prevalence of harassment and assault. I am inspired by the declarations intended to destigmatize traumatic events, but this social experiment has revealed a giant wound in the psyche of our society.

A few days ago, I was asked why people have become so sensitive and woke. What is the motivation for people who were mostly silent on political issues and matters of social justice to speak up now? In the simplest terms possible, these posts are the answer why. When a man who admitted sexually assaulting women got elected president because of a large voting block of women, there can be no truer reflection of the internalized misogyny many of us inflict upon ourselves. He has waged political and social warfare against many marginalized groups. Our silence breeds violence, and we must use our voices to speak out. He told us who he was during the election, but people supported his message or silently condoned it by ignoring it. The rights of rape and assault victims at colleges were stripped away only a month ago by the person who should have been protecting them. It was another blow to women from an administration headed by a predator in chief.

While I was in college, I experienced assault. By the time my naive teenage self realized what was going on, I was so frozen that I didn’t use my greatest asset, my voice, to verbalize my dissent. I lost part of myself that day, and it took almost 2 decades for my voice to rise above that place of shame and fear. I have blocked almost all details from my memory now as a form of self-protection, but as soon as I heard the “grab her” tape, they started to resurface like a wave of intractable nausea. Seeing the way he tried to intimidate his opponent by his greater size and speaking over her like her voice meant nothing brought it all together. This is not a matter of political differences. This is about humanity and personal integrity. If you support this man, I feel you are lacking those qualities, and I suggest looking internally for reflection.

The exposure of a Hollywood mogul’s decades of harassment and abuse of women was major news last week. I was distinctly unimpressed by some supposed liberal actors who weakly denounced him by saying they support women because of their children, significant others, or mothers. That type of thinking is part of the problem. People should not care about rape and abuse because of how it impacts them personally, they should have empathy because it’s the right thing to do. Daughters are not pawns to be played in sad attempts at justifying a now popular opinion against rape culture. I reserve my kudos for all the women who courageously spoke out despite rampant attempts to silence them.

I choose to believe that the events of the past year happened for a reason. However indirectly, he who shall not be named brought a powerful group of people together. This movement is way beyond any political candidate. For the first time in several decades, a large segment of the population is rejecting the president and political establishment. Change is on the horizon, I see a glimmer of it periodically. Messages that brought emotional distress also tightened the bonds of friendship. Me, too.