Uncategorized

Courage Is Contagious

By January 13, 2018 No Comments

What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?  The world would split open.

– Muriel Rukeyser

7 October 2016

I am on holiday, lying by a pool, reading a book. I’m on a break from all social media, all news, all things web related for a full 10 days.

I’ve had breakfast, been for a swim and am quietly enjoying the rare silence that comes with a solo holiday. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a TV playing a news bulletin in the adjacent hotel bar. A red ticker tape is tracking across the screen.

TRUMP TAPE BRAGS “YOU CAN DO ANYTHING… GRAB THEM BY THE P*SSY”

I shrug it off as sensationalist headlines and go back to my room, where my phone is blinking with multiple text messages:

OH MY GOD TRUMP.

WHAT THE HELL? TRUMP!

TURN ON YOUR TV!!! TRUMP!

I cave and look at the news.

I did try and fuck her…I moved on her like a bitch. But I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.

I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

I was speechless. The words ricochet through my body and take my breath away. I sit down on the edge of my bed. My hands are shaking.

In a flash, it’s fifteen years prior.

I was catching a cab, climbing into the back seat; the driver starts the journey but two block in pulled over and a friend of his climbed into the back seat.

Heart thumps.

His friend puts his hand on my leg, moves it up. I tell the drive to pull over, he doesn’t stop. He’s not going in the direction of my destination. We reach a red light, I jump out of the car before he thinks to lock the doors.  His friend reaches between my legs as I climb out of the car and he grabs me by the pussy.

Back in my holiday hotel room I am furious. Anger pulses through me. I am filled with white, hot, rage. I want to write. I want to write a blog post and shout from the rooftops that “this is too much — it’s happening to women all over the world, women like me and the candidate for the President of the United States of America gets to joke about it — it’s gone too far and has got to stop.”

But, each time I sit down to start I am paralysed. I am desperate to share my experience, but each time I try,  fear takes over. Fear and shame.

What would people say? What would people think? It wasn’t as bad as other women have experienced so why talk about it? It’ll look like I’m seeking attention.

I say to my self, no.

I swallow it down and go back to my holiday assuming this would be the end of Donald Trump because there’s no possible way a nation would elect a man who brags about sexual assault.

Related image

8 November 2016.

I am staring at my computer. Florida has just been called for the Republican Party. “She’s going to lose.” I say to my colleague. “This is actually happening. She can’t win the electoral college.” One by one, the states fall red. People are texting each other in complete disbelief. My friends in the US are calling in tears. I feel stupid in my “Love Trumps Hate” T-shirt while there are women at the republican rallies wearing shirts that say “President Trump can grab my pussy any time!”

The most qualified presidential candidate in history had been beaten by a man who ran the Miss Universe competition.

She’s worked her entire life for this moment. She put up with lies, slander and outrageous sexism for over 50 years, she’s won the most votes and still she has been rewarded with having to make a phone call to a lying, sexist, unqualified candidate and congratulate him on winning the presidency.

Image result for election night 2016

My mind flashes to countless meetings where senior male counterparts take credit for work I had stayed at the office until  two am to finish; bosses asking me to “Get a girl for this meeting. She doesn’t have to talk — just get a pretty one”. To myself managing a cast on a corporate gig and the male client refuses to speak to me and will only engage with a male production manager; a senior male manager says “wouldn’t you be happier if you just got a boyfriend” after I report on workplace challenges;  myself telling a different manager that an influential man had asked me to perform oral sex on him at a work event the night before and being told to “laugh it off and take it for the team”.

And then there it is again. Anger. White hot anger. And again, I sit down to write. I want to write Enough is enough, this power imbalance has got to change. But again, it’s drowned in fear.

Who wants to hear another women being upset about Hillary? Women much smarter than me are saying much more valuable things. I don’t have the vocabulary on this. Who gives a shit that someone took credit for my work? What if people connect the dots on who said those things to me? What will happen?My career will be damaged. Shut your mouth. Suck it up.

And so again, I let it go. I swallow it, and go back to work.

I say to myself, no.

21 January 2017

“I Donald John Trump”

“I Donald John Trump”

I vomit violently into the toilet. My whole body hurts. I can’t breathe.

“do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States”

“do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States”

I vomit again. I’ve been doing this for hours.

“and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

“and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

My whole body is overheated. I lie on the cold hotel bathroom tiles. It feels like my body is physically trying to reject the inauguration of Donald Trump that plays on the television in the next room. My entire body is screaming, no.

I pick myself up, walk over to my bed and I watch as Hillary stands stoically on the platform on the Capitol Building.

Related image

22 January 2017

SHOW ME WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!

THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!

I am in Madison, Wisconsin for work. It’s minus  five degrees celsius and I am chanting and walking with a hundred thousand other people in the Women’s March. There are bands playing, hilarious political pun placards, men wearing T-shirts saying “I’m a feminist too!”, dads marching with daughters, little girls dancing in the streets.

People don’t care that I’m not American. There is solidarity in the crowd. Marchers talk about their female role models, they compliment each other on their outfits and signs. Random strangers offer me extra toilet paper in the porta-loos line. An elderly man in a wheelchair offer his wife a seat on his lap when she feels tired. Wheeling along and wearing matching pussy-hats, they wear a sign that reads Justice and Love For All.

Though the protests are dubbed the Women’s March, they’re about more than just gender equality. People are marching for black lives, equal pay, healthcare access, Indigenous land rights, against LGBT discrimination, for climate action and disability rights.

I am polite and kind to people, but I don’t feel like this is *my* fight. I am a guest in someone else’s debate. I am nervous to speak up — I’m not American so this is not my conversation to join. I’m just here to in solidarity and support.

But it feels good to be there, to be among a community. To feel the white hot rage and look around and see everyone else is feeling it too. To know I am not alone.

For the first time, it feels good to get angry.

For the first time, it feels powerful. Together, we are saying no.

5 October 2017

It’s been a year of learning. I’ve been reading Patricia Collins, Gloria Steinham, Jessica Valenti,Brene Brown, Mary Beard, Tracey Spicer and Roxanne Gay. I’ve been listening and watching Deborah Frances White,Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams, Aisha Tyler, Chelsea Handler, Krista Tippet, Nakkiah Lui and Miranda Tapsell.

I am guided by brilliant peers, colleagues, teachers, mentors and elders. I learn from what’s passed, focus on the future and the small changes I can make. My understanding of intersectional feminism grows, my anger is channeling into passion, and I’ve started talking, albeit quietly, to other women about their experience in the world, about sexism, gender inequality and lack of diversity in places of power. There are text groups in my phone called THE COVEN.

While I don’t consciously know it, I am rehearsing, growing my vocabulary, getting ready.

And then I wake up to a news alert on my phone:

Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers for Decades

Harvey Weinstein Hired Private Investigators to Track Actresses and Journalists

And here it comes again. The rage, the anger, the shame, the fear the guilt. Now? Do I talk about this now? I’m not a Hollywood star — I’m from country Victoria! 

Related image

14 October 2017

A message pops up on my phone. A friend to a group of female peers and colleagues:

RE: Emma Thompson talking about Weinstein.

I would really love to be able to talk about this with you all. This is an issue I face. I think it is something to share rather than hide … I am uncomfortable bringing it up. But I am more uncomfortable letting it slide.

Eleven women agree to meet up, and talk.

15 October 2017

#metoo

#metoo #metoo

#metoo #metoo #metoo

#metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo

#metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo

#metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo

#metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo

#metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo

#metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo

#metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo

#metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo

#metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo #metoo

I draft a tweet: Yes #metoo. Pretty much every woman I know. The question is, what now?

I click “send”.

Image result for me too

28 October 2017

I am sitting in a room with eleven incredible women. They are my peers and friends, they are a mix of ages, the come from a mix of backgrounds, our collective life experience is vast and varied. We are all in leadership positions in the Australian arts industry.

We start to talk about sexual harassment. Someone says you can’t talk about sexual harassment unless you talk about power. Someone else says, you can’t talk about power without talking about systemic sexism.

There is a moment of silence.

What follows is one of the most educational, powerful, vulnerable, supportive, challenging and galvanising conversations of my life. This conversation and these incredible women, would change my life.

We start to talk constructively, we interrogate what we can do, in our positions of power, to change the cycle of behaviour, to make a positive difference. We list ideas. We get excited. We want to share these ideas.

We talk about the importance of sharing stories, and of the importance of including all genders this conversation.

Over the following days someone makes a meme, someone else starts an instagram account, we create a statement, someone suggests we sign our names.

I get nervous and scared. My gut is telling me to take a step back. What will people think? What will happen if I say all of this out loud?

I look to my friends, my colleagues and comrades. They are smart, brave, incredible women. I take a breath and write, Yup. Happy to have my name on it.”

We post it publicly and wait to see what happens.

The reaction is varied. Female friends share and congratulate; the media picks it up; and some of the women go on radio and talk — I am in awe of their bravery and succinct articulation. There is a deafening silence from other colleagues, both male and female, as well as some surprisingly defensive and combative emails.

I am at once nervous and emboldened.

Image result for solidarity women

8 January 2018

My phone rings. “Oh hi, Amy. I’m a producer from 7:30. We’re looking to talk to someone about sexual harassment in the arts — would you be interested?”

Everything in me screams

DO NOT DO THIS. NATIONAL TELEVISION. THE PLATFORM IS TOO BIG, TOO SOON.

But then he asks me, “Do you think there is a problem with sexual assault in the entertainment in Australia?”

And I start to talk. I’m standing on a side street in Darlinghurst talking about power, sexism, centuries of feminist history, difficult conversations. I’m questioning who we give power to, what executives and boards are doing to open up opportunity and take accountability. I tell him what I will and will not talk about.

The man on the phone says, “Can you get here in an hour?”

My experience pales in comparison with other women’s. My risk is so much lower. Someone needs to support them. Someone needs to talk about a way forward.

I take a breath.

I am ready.

I say to myself, yes.

Image result for courage is contagious brene brown
Advertisements

Author: aimsmaids