[**I wrote these thoughts last night, and they’re not all the things I think, they’re just some of the things I’m feeling** I know this is nuanced. I know it’s complicated. I’m not trying to present an articulate argument one way or the other. I’m just trying to explain why some women might be exhausted tonight.]
What a day. Am I right?
I sat in a coffee shop today, headphones plugged into my phone, restlessly shifting my weight, occasionally head in hands, until the woman I was with gently encouraged me to take a break from the Kavanaugh hearing.
I’m not ready to write this. But the world won’t wait for me to catch up. It won’t wait for me to be ready.
I posted the quote below today, because other people’s words felt easier to rest on than my own. Even though words have been deep friends of me all my life, they feel like they’ve failed me today.
“Check on the women in your life today, especially those you know are survivors, and even those who may not be. Having our humanity denigrated in this way, so publicly and flagrantly, is deeply exhausting and painful. Every woman I know is feeling it.” – Lauren Rankin
Inevitably the question comes. Basic and obvious. Why. What is it about today that feels degrading? Why is it so exhausting? And this is why I’m not ready to write. Because I don’t know the answer to that question. And that makes me feel confused, almost panicked – second guessing myself because I can’t bring proof.
I live in a world where my experience has never been enough weight on its own to be valid.
It’s a reasonable question. What is it, Fabs that makes you rock in your chair, and makes you type these words feeling like you might throw up? It’s a question that I ask myself. But I can’t answer.
And, so, the temptation calls to me, to dismiss my experience. Because I’ve learned that if I can’t point to explicit evidence than my experience is not real.
But a few years ago, someone spoke up. And then someone else. And I talked to another woman and then another, and everyone’s experience was an echo of my own, and then today, I read another woman’s words as I sat rocking in that coffee shop and i thought – yes. Me too. Deeply and truly – me too. And why do we all feel the same if we’re all making it up? If we’re all just making this up – how can it be that a woman I have never met, who shares such a different belief then me can so articulately describe how I feel today?
It is exhausting. This whole thing. This whole day.
Questions like – “why didn’t she got to the police” are exhausting. Because that answer seems so obvious to many of us that we can’t genuinely believe you’ve asked it. Because it proves to us that we truly have grown up in different worlds. Go to the police? She likely would have been laughed at by her friends, let alone the police. We don’t believe her NOW – when she speaks calmly and cooly with all those letters after her name. You think she would have been believed by a cop when she was a panicked and afraid teenager in 1982?
Questions like – “why didn’t she say something at the time” are exhausting. Because she’s terrified and her voice trembles as she puts this story into words NOW – as a grown ass woman with a support system that many of us would covet. And NOW, in 2018, her trembling voice is shouted down by people asking where her proof is – and they wonder why she didn’t speak in 1982? It’s exhausting to live in a world where people genuinely can’t understand why it would take someone years and years to speak the words of that kind of trauma happening to them.
Questions like – “why would she go to a party like that” are exhausting. Because part of the reason many women didn’t go to the police in 1982 or 1992 or 2002 or 2012 is because we believed the implication in that question. We believed that it was somehow our fault.
Questions like – “why is today exhausting” are exhausting. Because once again it feels as if the burden is on me to prove it. And it feels – for me at least – that it doesn’t matter what side of this fight I’m on. Burden of the proof is on me – not because I’m the accuser, but because I’m a woman. I know that because I’ve been the accused and the accuser. I’ve had both of those experiences, I just haven’t had the experience of being believed by the authorities asking the questions.
Questions like – “but don’t you think we should presume innocent until guilty” are exhausting. Because innocent until proven guilty is a privilege for white men, not black men.
Because this isn’t a court room, it’s part of what is supposed to be the most stringent job interview in the world – a search for any possible cause that someone might not be fit.
Because someone in that room begins the day by being believed (him), and someone else has the burden to change that narrative (her). And every time someone points to him and says – but look how credible he is, aren’t we really saying – look how much MORE credible he is than her?
At the end of the day – every single person will go to sleep tonight believing one of them – because they can’t both be telling the truth. And the crazy thing is – believing him is the default – it’s the assumption. Believing her is the thing that seems an act of faith. Believing her is the thing that demands evidence, while believing him is the neutral position.
At the end of the day – someone in that room is either a sexual assaulter or a liar. You don’t get to hide under “innocent until guilty” because we all believe one of them is guilty. If he is innocent until proven guilty, that means she is guilty until proven innocent.
Here’s the thing. I get it. I get the fear. What will happen if any women can say something happened with any man and it will just be ‘believed’?
But that’s happening now. That’s the world we live in – just switch the pronouns. We live in a world, where any man can say something something happened with any woman and he will just be believed. And why isn’t that dangerous to us?
Here’s the bottom line. This isn’t a court of law. If it was – witnesses from both sides would have been called. Attorneys would have spoken for people. No one is determining his guilt or innocence. People are just deciding if he should get hired for this job that is supposed to have one of the most intense job interviews known to man.
Not to mention, that he is in that room because he have raised his hands and said yes – search me thoroughly, run me through the ringer – and still somehow, he is the one crying about how horrible this all is.
Today was exhausting because we’ve been handed a million reasons that women aren’t credible. We’ve been handed horrific, but consistent lies, about why we aren’t believed when we talk. Women aren’t credible because they are too slutty, their boobs are too big, they are the wrong color, the wrong class, they speak the wrong way, too blond, too loud, too good looking, too ugly (care of our president himself) – and here we have her – the woman most likely to be believed in our twisted world. Quiet, soft spoken, clear, articulate, educated, pretty enough, but not too pretty, white. And we look at her clear and articulate story, her lie detector test, her fuzzy edges – offering the story all the hallmarks of the truth. And to her, we – as a nation – say – sorry, but we can’t believe you without proof.
I get it. I understand. I really do.
But I hope you can also understand why it’s so exhausting to go to bed tonight as a woman and know that it feels as if – at any time a man could do whatever he wants to you – and unless you get a sperm sample, there is nothing you can do or say to be believed.
To go to bed tonight knowing that the default setting of the world you will wake up in tomorrow will be to assume you aren’t telling the truth – and you do not have the power to change that setting – no matter who you are or who you talk to.