I have been too quiet of late. Such weighty issues playing out in my nation’s capital—women’s rights, human rights, the balance of power. And I have been uncharacteristically silent, here, in the place I best use my voice. I have not been true to my bitchy stock.
I think many of us are weary of the fight already. I know I am, with good reason. It hits too close to home.
My personal life, over the past seven years or so, has been a testament to what happens when a woman owns her story and her strength. And I say that with no ego, no hubris. It’s damn hard. The rewards are intrinsic. They certainly don’t come from our society. We love women in a good supporting role. But when they become the producer, the director, the breadwinner—we do not collectively respond with applause.
As I watched the Supreme Court nominee’s unbridled anger, how he smoothly lied about the nature of his drinking, I thought—ah, yes. With this I am familiar. As I watched his accuser prodded and poked on a story that she cannot tell second by second, blow by blow, I said—I get it, sister. Keep on keepin’ on.
My story about the demise of my marriage is true to a fault. It’s not pretty. It’s not one I can dismiss with folksy wisdom: “This too shall pass.” “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
It’s a story where I feel besmirched by association. And for the girl who grew up learning how to keep things perfect on the outside, that is beyond hard. It’s vulnerability. In my house, as a young girl, that was a dangerous thing to be avoided.
If you heard my story, you’d probably believe it. But then you’d hear his. And he would sound just as believable. You know why? Because he believes his own story.
The rub? Only one of us was clean and sober when our story played out. And the one that wasn’t doesn’t remember much of it. Even the pieces he could remember, he denies. It would be too hard for him to have to define himself by those years, those actions.
In any he said/she said situation, it’s hard to determine absolute truth. I believe Christine Blasey Ford. You may or may not. That’s actually not even what’s at issue here.
What is at issue is how we have the discussion. The fact that we must fight to have the discussion. And then, the mutual respect or lack thereof.
We have some hard questions to answer. Why can a man express “righteous indignation” but a woman doing the same thing is labeled “hysterical”? I could list 50 more conundrums but I’ll spare you.
The face of power needs to change. In marriages, in governments, on Supreme Court benches. It is not one male, white face. Our world should no longer be a fraternity in which a man gets to roll out of bed and be judged on his merits while a woman must apply her “game face” makeup and be judged on how she ages.
This post is indicative of what the smartest, most capable women among us are doing and saying. We are telling our own stories. Owning our own power. We are not hysterical, shouting or calling names.
We will continue to own our truth. We will raise our boys to be better men. And we will change the face of the world—literally and figuratively—by voting for different voices. Some of them, shockingly, our own.
I know you’re out there, ladies (and gentlemen). I feel your good souls. And I am comforted. Our current situation is a blip in a larger picture that’s about to change for the better. I’ll leave you with words wiser than mine, from the former president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women:
We need women who are so strong they can be gentle,
so educated they can be humble, so fierce they can be compassionate,
so passionate they can be rational, and so disciplined they can be free.
We need uncommon women for these uncommon problems.
And how deeply reassuring to me it is to know that wherever we go, there you will be.