Be Better Than Fear

My last two posts were pretty bleak. I admit it. I don’t believe the world is ending just yet, but there are definitely signs of doom for democratic ideals.

The fear and loathing can’t be divorced from the current President, his administration and the mockery that is being made of fair governance. Basic human decency should be an occupational requirement. But it’s not.

Although actual progress on any part of the Trump agenda has been mercifully slow, change is very much in the air, dredging up fear on both sides of the aisle. It’s just being channeled and processed differently. On the left we’re seeing authoritarian activities we believed were ancient history once again in vogue – and we’re resisting. On the right…I honestly don’t know what we’re seeing. But the Party of No is gunning for women’s health, civil rights and immigration.

At the center of both reactions lies fear. For some conservatives, it’s fear of what America’s changing demographics look like, particularly in post-9/11 America. On the liberal left, there’s panic that we’ll never make it three and a half more years of Trump.

Fear drives ignorant, shortsighted behavior, such as a school teacher handing out a “Most Likely to be a Terrorist” certificate to a seventh grader (as a “joke”). In what universe is branding someone at the most turbulent stage of their life as a terrorist, funny? Or even remotely appropriate? It’s harassment, an attack on a child’s mental state, creating a hostile environment for the entire community. We can’t have the people entrusted with our kids damaging their mental health and creating a bullying culture from the top down.

That same fear of the “other” contributed to North Carolina’s racist voting district gerrymandering efforts. These moves placed large groups of African-Americans into the same few districts, concentrating their votes. In effect, gerrymanderers split representatives 10:3 in favor of traditional, white republican representation in areas where black voters skew democratic. This approach was struck down by the Supreme Court with the uncharacteristic support of Justice Clarence Thomas, rarely to be found on the “liberal” side of a case.

SCOTUS’ ruling in the North Carolina case is one of the few moments of clarity and bipartisan unity we’ve seen in recent months, an indication that black votes, voices and lives matter. There is hope to be found in the system of checks and balances, no matter how delayed.

There’s also reasons for optimism as courts across the country slap down Trump’s proposed travel ban time and time again. In fact, just this last weekend Following another terrorist attack in London, Prime Minister Theresa May called for action to restrict “the safe spaces it needs to breed.” Trump’s travel ban and May’s preference for a police state are responses of fear, because they do not understand the bigger picture.

The proposed ban exists to discriminate against six majority Islamic countries as a show of nationalism (not to be confused with patriotism). Somehow Trumpsters and their supporters fail to realize reducing all Muslims to terrorists is like conflating all Christians with the Westboro Baptist Church.

May, while having a legitimate cause for concern (this is the third attack on British soil within three months), is reacting to radical elements of Islam. She’s looking to penetrate so-called self-segregated communities and be “less delicate of their sensitivities.” It’s panic that targets civilians.

When we hear the word “terrorism,” it’s disturbing  to observe the automatic jump of many to Islam. We need to remember that terrorism isn’t a religion; it’s a tactic. A tactic founded upon bullying, sadism and sociopathic tendencies to control people through threats, intimidation and violent action.

Terrorism does not exist “over there.” Look no further than America and Breitbart’s hate-filled agenda, the constant stream of cultural ignorance (yes, those are different links) thrown at those who look or believe outside of hetero, Caucasian, Christian paradigms. Consider Betsy Devos’ anarchist, hands-off approach to education. Every day on the job, she’s developing a hostile experience for future generations.

There is a lot of negativity to weight us down at present, but we also need to look beyond our own fear. By doing so, we’ll learn how to advance together. By way of example, there’s the One Love Manchester concert benefiting victims of the second U.K. attack. There’s also the aforementioned Supreme Court ruling against gerrymandering, and the unprecedented number of women running for public office. There’s human decency and intelligence visible everywhere – if you know where to look. 

Allowing paralysis or backward movement under the weight of fear does no one any good. The ability to look forward is what will distinguish leaders matching the global, human challenges of these times.

F is for Feminism

Let’s get a a couple of facts out of the way:

1). I’m a feminist.

2). If you respect any of the women in your life, you should be one too.

Feminism, as defined by Merriam Webster is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes,” or “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.” For the sake of this conversation, let’s use both variations as working content, rather than the ludicrous urban dictionary definition. I’m currently reading Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist and one of the core takeaways is that as long as you adhere to the basics of equality, feminism is flexible. No matter how you react a word however, the truth is there’s a lot less respect for women around the world than there should be in 2017, and a lot of this inequality flies right under our noses.

In a previous post, I mentioned that pregnancy is considered a pre-existing condition in the recent Congressionally-approved repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). However after she read my post, my mother pointed out I was playing softball. Her point: under some pre-Obamacare insurance plans, not just pregnancy, but RAPE could be classified as a pre-existing condition in some states.  If ACA is fully repealed, non-consensual sex could still be categorized as such, depending on providers and channels of coverage.

This health care onslaught against women comes at a time when we have definitions like Urban Dictionary’s crawling around the Internet (even as a “joke,” it’s highly offensive and disturbing). And there are many who treat the label “feminist” like a curse word, avoiding it altogether. What’s wrong with being an acknowledged pursuer of equal rights?

Answer: Nothing.

The “problem” is that asserting modern equality of any kind (see: Black Lives Matter) upsets the status quo and is viewed as a threat by the reproducers of ideology. Humans are capable of great change, but are too often resistant and intellectually lazy about the associated effort. But here’s the reality: women are treated unfairly. In the workplace, in interpersonal interactions, and by too many governments.

Most of you reading this are probably well aware of the gender climate. Apologies – the last thing anyone wants is another lecture from a white man. I know I’m writing from a position of privilege on complex set of issues that don’t subjugate me.  All the more reason to speak,  to push for an end to these injustices. My life has been enriched by strong women who overcame obstacles they shouldn’t have had to. As a society, we’re standing on yet another precipice of choice between advancement and regression. If I’m in a position to support and advocate, I will and I must.

The examples of regression are numerous.  Headlines display a barrage of egregious physical and political violations. Last week a ten year-old who was raped in India was granted (oh thank you justice system) permission to abort her abusive rapist’s child. This same district horrified the world in the case of a brutal gang rape, where the driver blamed the victim for “being out too late” and not what he considered a “decent girl.”

We don’t have to leave American shores to find other disgraceful examples of sexual violence that debase a women’s person-hood. Baylor University football players are accused of drugging and raping female students as a demented bonding ritual. This kind of depravity treats half a population like a commodity; a viewpoint enforced by governing bodies who attack women’s access to healthcare. Iowa just swapped out Medicaid money for state funds, which limits those funds’ usage at centers that provide essential care if they also offer abortions. Life and death decisions for women are founded on the opinions of those who can’t possibly empathize – mainly rich, white men. 

It’s almost a mistake to label the aforementioned examples “regressions.” The word ignores the history and constancy of gender inequality. Nothing here is new, but somehow it feels freshly discouraging.

Until a few months ago, a path to gender progress in American was visible. Hillary Clinton was primed to be the first female President of the United States of America. Despite constant hectoring (see this satiric compendium of everything she’s been called) voters seemed to be With Her. Instead, “Grab’em by the pussy” Donald Trump won the election, leading to the Women’s Marches as a direct response. For many the civil unrest offered hope that we haven’t lost our sanity altogether, that as a democratic nation we’ll resist all forms of tyranny. 

Maybe I’m guilty of romanticizing that moment, believing the day’s momentum would propel women forward. Easy access to healthcare, freedom from toxic slut-shaming, working side-by-side with men without the spectre of sexual harassment. But progress doesn’t move in bursts. Unfortunately it comes in fits and starts. Knowing this, let’s keep standing and protesting.

Getting Human Rights Wrong

Last week, America’s foreign policy shifted in a startling way. Our nation went from home of the free and the brave, to a potential Airbnb stay for oppressive dictators. Donald Trump is courting foreign leaders who have been likened to Hannibal Lector, and is opening the floodgates to negative possibilities by meeting one of the world champs of human right’s violations.

To the uninformed, inviting Rodrigo Duterte to the White House doesn’t seem that extreme or worrisome – foreign leaders are called to Washington on a regular basis. It’s common, expected diplomatic behavior. That this head of state, specifically, was invited is alarming, because a quick Google search turns up a number of 7,000 civilians killed due to his war on drugs in the Philippines (as of March 2017). Other evidence of his disregard for human rights can be found in additional returned searches. Legal experts assert that if Duterte were not President of the Philippines, he wouldn’t be allowed into the U.S due to these violations. But these are not normal times. There are certain similarities between Duterte and Donald Trump. The current egoist occupying the Oval Office would apparently love the opportunity to speak to himself through a fun-house mirror.

Combine Trump’s curious condoning of Duterte’s murderous war on drugs, with the recent designation of Kim Jong-Un as a “Smart Cookie.” Add in his ongoing obsession with Russia’s Vladmir Putin, and we’re looking at a bleak future for human rights. This is a president easily swayed by flattery who quickly absorbs problematic ideas. He shouldn’t be left alone unsupervised. All three of these foreign powers (The Philippines, North Kora, Russia) sit high on the Human Rights Watch violations list, with regressive policies against free speech and mounting (state controlled and sponsored) paranoia of the west, specifically the United States.

The truly terrifying take away from a potential visit with Duterte isn’t what could happen in the future, should The Donald develop a strong relationship with the leader. The real horrors are the shades of dictatorial political systems and regimes that have already infiltrated America. There are more examples than space in this column to provide, but you don’t have to look far to see escalated aggression against any group defined as “other” (read: non-white, poor, homosexual, religion other than Christianity). The divisive rhetoric from world leaders such as Duterte, Putin, Jong-Un and Trump creates a muscled environment for hateful propaganda to flourish. It encourages divisive hostility, supporting an “us vs them” narrative (looking at you, Breitbart, with your glowing “special report” of the first 100 Days of the Trump disaster) that  supporters embrace.

Mr. Trump signed an executive order (his 35th in just over 100 days in office- this list summarizes the first 29 and six more have been produced since) promoting “religious freedom,” which allows tax-exempt churches to advocate for and endorse political entities. This is another dangerous muddling of the lines between separation of church and state (The Constitution only mentions Congress in Amendment I). Many readers (myself included) interpret this as a blank check, allowing Indianans to refuse to bake me a cake if I decide to tie the knot. We all know how that turns out.

That’s just one tame example of authoritarian, dogmatic creepage. But right now, we have a President who’s achieved his definition of “winning” almost entirely through executive orders. He’s resentful of the press (no-showing at the Annual Correspondents Dinner) and prefers to create “alternative facts” while decrying reason and established journalism as “fake news.” We’re looking at the early stages of a dictatorship with a self-generating propaganda machine. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at the arrest for laughing during confirmed racist’s Jeff Session’s Confirmation Hearing,  the same week that Alton Sterling’s highly publicized death resulted in no charges for the officers who shot him.

While all of these are technically separate events and occurrences, together they point to a narrowing notion of freedom in America – one where racism is rewarded, undue aggression is allowed a free pass if the victim isn’t a cisgendered white male, specific religious beliefs Trump (pun intended) others, and unrepentant murderers receive invites to the White House. The closing window of life and liberty also expanded last week to shut out the poor and unlucky further. The House passed a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, expanding the definition of pre-existing conditions to absurdly discriminatory levels (pregnancy is now apparently a pre-existing condition, whereas erectile dysfunction is not).

Detractors might say that coddling up to a man like Duterte could help promote a growing relationship with China. An increasingly hostile North Korea faced together and all that. I’m going to go however with a less is more approach. Given their records, Duterte and Trump should never be in a room together. America can’t risk it.

America Wants Sharia Law

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My first guest post of 2017 comes from my younger sister’s longtime friend, and thoughtful American, Kyle Twenty. No additional setup needed. Just read….

There’s been an idea germinating in my head for awhile now. This is an attempt to more fully work it out. I’m seeing increased hypocrisy amongst some of the very grassroots Christian movements using fear tactics and hate speech to justify Islamophobic actions.

It’s like this. Despite impassioned words to the opposite effect, many Americans seem to want Sharia law. As counterintuitive as it sounds, recent actions and decisions in this country have led me to believe that the same people who denounce the Islamic faith and everything it stands for, are the ones who are craving Sharia life the most. Allow me to explain.

Literally translated, Sharia means “the path to the watering hole,” or “the right path.” A recent description I encountered labels Sharia “…a religious code for living, in the same way the Bible offers a moral system for Christians.” Sharia deals with nearly every aspect of daily life, including politics, economics, banking, business law, contract law, sexuality, and social issues.

Growing up in a conservative, Midwestern, Christian family that regularly attended church, these spheres of influence were often topics for the Sunday sermon. The homilies that emanated from the preacher covered all of the above, interspersed with passages from the Bible that were meant to provide models for adapting the teachings into daily life and relationships.

I’ve been fortunate to be exposed to ceremonies from many religions of the world: Presbyterian, Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Jewish, and yes, Islam. While I don’t pretend to understand every intricacy and nuance, all of these faiths use teachings of the past to help guide followers in the present and future. So though in name origin, “Sharia” hails from the Muslim culture, in practice the idea is part of every religious theology. In effect, all faiths have their own Sharia.

So why it is that many people who denounce Islamic Sharia have no struggle accepting Christian Sharia into their hearts and lives? It’s a rhetorical question to which I have no immediate answer. Perhaps it’s a lack of education or curiosity about other faiths. Maybe it’s a deep-rooted, hereditary fear laced with racial prejudice. Perhaps it is Christian dogma itself, which instructs the faithful to “Put no other Gods” before the Lord, or that “No one comes to the Father, if not through” (presumably) white Jesus.

Regardless of the motives, there is a decades-long movement at work in the United States to introduce more Christian law into conservative politics. Just like Islamic Sharia, many legislative leaders are interweaving religious dogma into governance, attempting to define how we should live. What is this if not Sharia?

The rampant fear of Islam and Islamic Sharia that’s overtaking the country stems from a very vocal minority of Muslims who misuse parts of the Qur’an to justify hatred and violence. These fringe members of the faith look at verses which state “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore, strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them, or “And fight with them until there is no more fight and religion should be only for Allah.” The extremists choose to interpret these words literally, without any review of context. And for convenience sake, Christians with a fear and loathing of Islam identify these same passages as “proof” of the religion’s malice. They fail to realize their own hypocrisy as they stand, clutching their King James Bibles, accusing Islamic Sharia of breeding chaos.

Before Christian Americans cast any more proverbial stones, perhaps we should take a look at our own Book. Deuteronomy 17:2-5 states that “If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the Lord thy God, in transgressing his covenant, And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel; Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.”

Even the more forgiving New Testament, which forms the basis for modern Christianity, chimes in with these two gems. Luke 19:27 – “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.” Matthews 10:34 -“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.”

Here we have two holy texts – the Qur’an and the Bible – with verses taken out of context, inciting violence. How exactly is this different?

Based on the excerpts offered, the conclusion could be drawn that, in a vacuum, Christian Sharia is a system just as violent as the Islamic variety. But for sociopolitical expediency, we ignore the Bible’s angry rhetoric. It’s there and we make peace with it as part of a larger belief system. Yet we’re unable to afford Muslim practitioners the same latitude.

In the end, it’s very simple. “Extremists” are those who try to push the boundaries of religious law – any religion – to gain power and justify inhumanity.

I ask you to consider the following question. What are the qualitative differences between the Islamic Sharia rejected with such vitriol by so many, and the conservative Christian Sharia being used to dominate and inflict pain upon the country in 2017?

Kyle Twenty is a 15-year veteran of the broadcast industry, from which he eventually escaped to settle in the suburbs of Chicago with his wife, two children, and their assortment of pets. He spends his time trying to use logic, reason, and facts to win over the hearts and minds of others, demonstrating that there are many sides to issues of the human condition. You can contact Kyle via email at ktwenty@comcast.net, or follow him on Twitter @gpsdetour.

Missing in Action: The Week’s Overlooked News Stories

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The Cubbies are coming, tra-la, tra-la! All of Chicago and Cubs Nation has shut down for Games 4, 5 and 6 of the World Series. The excitement is palpable, as is the anticipation for the November 8 conclusion of this horrendously long and agonizing presidential election. In celebration of competition everywhere, let’s look at some fun, uplifting sports stories that may have escaped your notice this week.

Olympic swimmer may have fan to thank for saving his life

“If you see something, say something” has become one of the hottest phrases of the 21st Century. It’s often dropped with regard to counter terrorism activity, but in this case the principle was exercised by a fan who noticed a suspicious mole on the chest of an Olympic swimmer. Australian Mack Horton took to social media to give a shout out to the person who contacted team doctors about the mole after seeing the athlete compete in Rio. The results of the biopsy have not been released, but this could have been life-saving outreach from a Good Samaritan.

More evidence that 2016 could be the year of the woman 

So far, 2016 has seen a tremendous public rise in demand for “equal pay for equal work.” The first female nominee for President of the United States by a major political party is poised to take the White House, and the aforementioned Summer Olympics were dominated by American women. In the sports arena, yet another glass ceiling has been shattered, this time by a surf board. For the first time in the history, women are participating in the invitation-only Titans of Mavericks competition. Hang 10 ladies!

Long suffering Cubs fan has more than one dream come true 

It’s no secret that the blood in my veins runs die-hard Cubby blue. Watching the Lovable Losers was a huge part of my childhood, and as an adult the long-term, championship-less suffering has become more acute. A running joke grew into a painful yearning for something completely out of my control. Now here we are in 2016 and the Cubs have made it to the World Series for the first time since 1945. I’m 38 and can only imagine the agony of my elders, who waited even longer for a dream come true.  This story about a 97 year-old World War II vet, lifelong Cubs fan and the generosity of a stranger will warm your heart. This kind soul is fulfilling the wishes of folks like my grandmother and great-grandmother, who didn’t love long enough to see this day, but are with all of us in spirit.

Missing in Action: The Week’s Overlooked News Stories

 

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Not everything is about Donald Trump and the dumpster fire he’s cultivated from American democracy. Let’s touch on some of the news items you may have overlooked while running away from continuous cable news election coverage.

Family finds the joy amidst pain

The agony of learning your child is terminally ill is unimaginable. My sister, a valued member of the BeckySarwate.com Team and mother of two, always follows up tough parenting stories with the line “no one ever tells you THAT part.” I’m told surprises lurk behind every corner when it comes to raising children, not all of them pleasant. But this family is truly an inspiration. They have taken horrible news with grace and dignity, turning it into something immensely positive – a “joy list” of experiences to check off while they are still lucky enough to have their two year-old daughter. We all get wrapped up in daily stresses, but while reading this story of a life not wasted, take a moment to appreciate your blessings .

Bob Dylan appaerently doesn’t care about his Nobel Prize

In last week’s MIA column, we told you Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The academy had a hard time even finding Dylan to give him the prize money. It seems this very BFD does not matter at all to the peculiar artist.

While the BeckySarwate.com Team admits to not being particular fans of the music legend, we can’t help but admire a guy who’s never been in it for the glory. Cheers to you sir.

“Weird” Al Yankovic provides much needed comic relief

If you’re like me, you barely have any space remaining in your tolerance files because of this presidential election cycle. Writing about it week after week after week has seriously become an emotional drain, so I was thrilled to discover this little gem. After Wednesday’s third and final debate, the most talked about moments resulted in viral hashtags like #BadHombres and #NastyWoman. Leave it to “Weird” Al to use them to pull off the funniest video of the week, competing against the likes of Trevor Noah from the Daily Show.

I Am You: An Open Letter to Trump’s Accusers and Promoters of Rape Culture

Alongside my partner Bob and my two nieces, I love my sister Jennifer more than anyone in the world. It breaks my heart that Fall has had a way in recent years, of bringing about events that move my her to share heartbreaking personal stories. However my pride in her courage and willingness to open up, to create dialogue and change, is beyond description. Ladies and gentlemen, please read this week’s important guest post.

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I don’t consider myself a writer, and I certainly didn’t want to write this piece. But just as it was last November, current events, personal experience and an acute sense of universal injustice compel me to speak. Although I work in broadcast communications as a career, my private life is something I guard with care. This is a difficult story for me to tell. But here it is because tell it I must…

Women are coming forward in droves with horrifying tales of physical violation. These stories do more than provide corroboration for the sick words Donald Trump spoke on the now-famous Access Hollywood tape from 2005. These reports lay bare that Trump’s vile rhetoric was much more than indiscrete “locker room talk” The accounts of these women expose a pattern of frightening, inhumane Trump experiences, experiences which he is of course refuting. When pressed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper during the second presidential debate on Sunday October 8, Trump claimed that his revolting dialogue was just loose “guys will be guys” bluster. Certainly he never assaulted anyone….

Tell that to the multitude of women over decades who experienced traumas verbatim to what Trump described to disgraced Today Show anchor Billy Bush. A particularly disturbing account from a former People magazine reporter sent chills down my spine. I don’t have to imagine the humiliation and terror she must have felt being violated on the job by a powerful man.

It’s not hard to put myself in Natasha Stoynoff’s shoes because like far too many women (conservative estimates place the incidence at 1 in 6), I have been a victim of sexual assault. More than once. The first violation occurred was when I was 12 years old, walking down a neighborhood street with my older sister. A man walking in the opposite direction grabbed my breast, gave a satisfied leer and continued on. I can never forget that look, like he was certain something erotic had passed between us, the disgusting, humiliating intimacy it suggested. Sickening. Though other passerby and drivers on the busy road must have seen something, no one bothered to help. I was a child assaulted in broad urban daylight.

Though this unnamed educator never crossed the line to physical contact, as a senior in high school, I experienced systematic degradation from an AP English Language teacher. Every time I raised my hand to participate in class, I was acknowledged by the “pet name” Cookie Buns. After many such publicly embarrassing, misogynist incidents, I stopped raising my hand. This man did more to negatively impact my education (academically, and the school of life) than he will ever know.

That same year, a stranger followed me home from the train to my apartment vestibule. Initially, I wasn’t sure if he lived in the building. Anonymous city life. Then he pinned me against the door of my unit and started to reach up my skirt. It was shrill screaming and the insane barking from my very large Golden Retriever, Max (always keenly on the lookout for threats to my safety) from behind the locked door that saved me from what was certain to be rape, if not more. After my attacker fled, I was so shaken I couldn’t dial 911 for several minutes. I also blamed myself for what happened. I remember crying and asking, “Why did I wear a skirt today?!” But the tragedy wasn’t complete until a male neighbor later told me he heard my screams but thought I was “horsing around.” That man, a member of my community, could have intervened or called authorities. Maybe the sicko who attacked me would have been caught. To my knowledge, he never was.

I wish this was the end of my story. But it’s not. In my early 20s, I was grabbed by the breasts (again) by a drunk supervisor at a company event. Some of my colleagues witnessed this, as the assault took place in a crowded room. I went to another (female) supervisor, embarrassed and enraged. I naively figured she’d move quickly to address the obvious impropriety. Instead she all but dismissed the incident with this observation: “I assumed you’d be okay with it.”

Boys will be boys, right? Never mind that I’d done nothing to invite that kind of behavior, or that I was married with a child. What kind of person publicly acts out his sick private thoughts and keeps his job? I’m sure it will surprise few women to know that he did remain employed. Years later, when we professionally encountered each other again, he pretended not to know who I was. Another tactic to obfuscate and rob me of my dignity.

This is the society we live in. A society in which we blame and shame the victim, call them liars, insist that they “asked for it.” No matter what anyone says, this is why Trump’s targets didn’t come forward sooner. Sexual assault is an isolating, psychologically gutting experience. It’s reasonable to believe these women were looking for a safe sign to come out of the shadows. The leaked Access Hollywood tape and Trump’s bold, arrogant denials provided that signal. It’s beyond maddening that these accounts are being tossed aside by some for political expediency since we are a month away from an election. Very inconvenient for Republicans. Another classic case of victimizing the victim, forcing them to relieve trauma all over again.

I confessed my struggle with putting this story out for public consumption. I have experienced the denial, the shame, the fear and the isolation. Frankly, it’s not a side of me I want people to know, especially my daughters. I don’t want them to think of their mommy in danger or, worse, fear for their own safety. But this story is bigger than one narrative. I am Trump’s victims and they are me. And although women bear the brunt of our society’s rape culture, too many boys and men have also been violated, or love someone that has suffered and continues to suffer. Paralyzing fear is a tool of the oppressor. I’m done being oppressed. Staying silent does nothing.

This story is for all those with an agenda, attempting to invalidate a women’s personhood or trauma. You’re disgusting and on the wrong side of history.

This story is for those who haven’t talked about their harassment and/or assault, regardless of the reason. You deserve to be heard, and I believe you.

This story is for all the young boys and girls who may experience unwanted, unasked for aggression in the future. Anyone who behaves in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable is in the wrong. Period. Speak up. Scream as loud as you need to.

This story is for anyone who isn’t yet clear about respecting other human beings. Assume nothing. You have no fundamental right to someone’s body. Don’t touch anyone without permission.

History will not be kind to the 2016 presidential election and its Republican standard bearer. But we can learn. And we can start healing wounds and prevent future damage. We have a common interest in doing so.

“The greatness of humanity is not in being human, but in being humane.”

– Mahatma Gandhi