When Words Do Matter 

I am not a prude. Anyone who knows me well knows that swear words and nudity and sex aren’t things I rail against. Frankly, I think we’d be doing a lot better society wise if we loosened up around sex and tightened up around violence.
So, it surprised many of my friends, and, to be honest, even surprised me, when on Friday the hot mic tape of Donald Trump made me feel physically sick. It actually made me cry. And then it made me angry. More angry than any of the other idiotic things he’s said or done over the last year plus (seriously, doesn’t this feel like the longest circus ever?).
Some questioned why I, one who rarely gets offended by anything, was so offended by this. After all, it was just boys being boys. It was just locker room banter – all the guys talk like that when they get together. Right?
So I wrote about it. All of it. And just as I was about to hit “post” the entire thing disappeared. Literally, poof and away into the ether. Gone. I don’t know what I did, or what I hit on my phone, but lesson learned – when writing a really personal post for Facebook, draft it in a program and copy and paste it when you are ready to post. Because losing it all is beyond frustrating. But losing all the words also made me wonder if the universe was telling me to be quiet. To let it be. Just stay silent. No good will come out of telling this story.
So, I had to really think about it. Did I want this story, this slice of my life, to be out there for my friends and family and potentially a lot of other people to see? Once you post on social media, you can’t go back. Is that what I wanted?
Tonight I decided it did need to be out there. For a lot of different reasons. But mainly because I do believe we stay as sick as our secrets. And secrets never help anyone. And secrets make you tired. And they have a way of catching up with you, at the least opportune times, just when you think you don’t have to visit them anymore.
I want my blog and my Facebook page to be as authentic as can be. So, I’m putting it out there. And bracing for the commentary.

 

Below you will find my best re-writing of what I wrote on Saturday, October 8, 2016, for my blog page, https://www.facebook.com/mamalawmadingdong/.
*********************
I try my best not to get political on this page. Politics seem to create such divisiveness today, and I really want to promote love here. But I also want this page to be an authentic representation of me and my experiences. So, I decided that this was something I needed to share. Because words do matter. In myriad ways. And that is something that Trump and countless others need to learn.

When I was 19, I was accepted into a writing program at UC Berkeley. At the time it was a program you had to apply to, and when I received my acceptance letter, I was beyond thrilled. All I wanted to do was write. And travel to where the news was happening and write about what I saw from a human perspective. I wanted to cover it all. War, famine, political revolution. I wanted in.
When I made my plans to travel up to Berkeley to meet with the admissions and program counselors, as well as professors and to tour the campus, I didn’t think twice, nor did my parents, about staying with a family friend we had known for years in his condo in the area near Berkeley. He had always been the big brother I never had, had always been so protective of me, and I’d always felt safe in his presence.
After meeting with the heads of the program and touring the campus and learning more about the program and my place in it, I could not have been more excited. I was going to spend the next two years surrounded by some of the most brilliant minds and writers around. It was all perfect. I remember thinking “this is where my life really begins. Where I am going to start to do amazing things and make a difference.”

My friend insisted we celebrate with a nice dinner downtown and since I wasn’t yet of legal age to drink and didn’t have my fake ID (it had been confiscated earlier at a local bar in my hometown), I ordered my standard Arnold Palmer and he ordered a 1/2 a bottle of wine and told me I could steal a few sips as we toasted to my future. After the drinks were ordered I got up to wash my hands and when I came back my drink was on the table and his wine was poured.

And, that is all I remember.

I woke up the next morning, naked, in his bed, with a raging headache and knowing he’d had sex with me. And see that? Even now I can’t call it rape. I could barely type the word right there.
My dress was thrown on the floor and it was ripped. It took me several minutes to get my bearings and to stand up. When I did, this “friend” – this person I looked up to like a brother – looked at me and said “I had such a great time last night. I’m hoping you did too – but you were passed out for most of it.”

And I barely made it to the bathroom before I vomited.
I was supposed to be there another two days, and I could not get out fast enough. I know I was screaming and crying and he was telling me to calm down and lighten up. And when I said “you had sex with me (see, again, couldn’t even say rape then either) while I was passed out – and I don’t even know how or why I was passed out” he looked at me, in the coldest tone ever, and said “Katie, you spent the entire day with me. You came TO STAY with me. You willingly came to my house. Who’s going to believe you?”
I believed him. Who would believe me? That was the first time I knew that terrible things could happen and you could swallow them up and hide them – simply out of fear of being put on trial yourself.
So I left. I called a friend in San Francisco and took a cab to her place. She knew something was totally amiss, but I just kept saying I was fine. Just tired. Needed a change of scenery. Another shower to get the feeling of filth and violation off of me.
Two weeks later I’d find out he infected me with an STD. I dealt with it alone, too embarrassed and ashamed to let anyone know. I cried all the time.
What happened that night (and I still don’t know what fully happened, and that’s the absolute worst part of all), changed everything for me. It stole my dreams and my goals and my hopes. HE stole my dreams and my goals and my hopes. Soon I was making excuses to my parents and friends about why I decided to pursue a degree at UCLA and not enroll in the very program that just a few weeks earlier I could not stop talking about. I studied acting for a bit in high school and college, and that training allowed me to be a mess in private and together in public. People questioned why the sudden change in trajectory. I had an answer for everything. An answer. But not the truth.

That night changed the entire trajectory of my life.

 

So when I listened to the so called “locker room” hot mic tape, it made me sick. Not because he said tits or pussy. Please. It’s not the words on their own.
It’s because he thinks that because of who he is, he’s entitled to something that doesn’t belong to him. Whenever he wants.

 

Trump: Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.

“You can do anything.”

How many women did he grab, simply because he thought he could. He wanted to, so he did.

That sick mentality changed my life, forever, in 1994. That night changed everything. It changed me. I went from someone on the verge of realizing her passion and pursuing her dream career to someone totally unsure of herself.  I questioned everyone and everything.  Mostly I questioned myself.  All the damn time.

It’s taken me years to get back to my passion of writing. Where I once believed in people and trusted and was open with my heart, I became cynical and shut down. I was afraid. All the time.
Even sharing this now makes me nauseous. My parents don’t know about this. Most of my friends don’t know.   A handful of girlfriends from UCLA do, simply because I once had a panic attack during a fundraiser for a local rape crisis center. I had to explain why I was such a wreck.

My sons’ godmother, my sister from another mother, texted me after I sent her a draft of this, and she simply said “How, Kate, HOW DID I NOT KNOW?”  Shame.  A semi truck full of shame.  And then some.

 

I met the man who would become my first husband just a few weeks after this happened.  We spent a lot of time working through it and shed a lot of tears because of it.

What Trump said can’t be defended. It’s more than locker room banter. Especially at 59 years old.  This wasn’t some 8th grade hormone case trying to figure out when the envelope actually gets pushed.  It’s more than bragging about the “hot chick” you had consensual, both had a great time, sex with. This isn’t sharing some hot sex story with your friend (and let’s be honest – all men and women have done that a time or two. Had a great time with someone and spilled the beans to a friend the next day).
I’ll even go on record to say that most women would be even be a little bit happy to be referred to as “hot” or “beautiful” or “smokin.'”
That’s not what this is. Trump doesn’t see a woman. A name. A person with intelligence and talents and accomplishments.  He sees the one thing he wants to take. To kiss. To grab. And that’s the problem to me.  Assault.  That’s what it is whether anyone wants to admit it or not.

I was speaking with a dear friend about all of this when it broke. He, like me, questioned how anyone with children could even attempt to defend this. Defend him. I’m raising two sons. I take all of this very seriously.
Imagine, he said, the following conversation and think about how ridiculous it really is:
Dad: ” Don’t treat women with disrespect.”
Son: “But dad, you voted for Trump.”
Dad: ” Yeah, but he’s only the most powerful person in the world. So that’s ok.”

I’ll leave it at that.

4 thoughts on “When Words Do Matter 

  1. I’m so sorry for your experience. Thank you for sharing. The more we share and bring this despicable and unacceptable behavior and thought into the light, the quicker we’ll find a way to combat and stop it. For our children’s sake.

  2. Kate:
    Your talent for writing is brilliant. Your heart to share is beautiful. Your pure honesty is brave. Thank you so much for sharing your words. I most love “I do believe we stay as sick as our secrets”. So powerful.

  3. I got raped right after I graduated high school. I was young and naive partly bc I was only 17. I went down to Florida for my graduation present. I trusted the group I was with and they did take good care of me until I snuck off with someone I had met on the beach. I admit I was drinking and I was a lightweight both in my actual weight(110) and in drinking so it didn’t take much. I woke up in some strange man’s bed feeling sick and confused. I was a virgin until then. I had a full ride to college waiting on me when I got back but instead I came back pregnant. That daughter just graduated with her Master degree in social work !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s