Today, I wrote on a friend’s Facebook page: I am so sad.
And a man, who considers himself an ally wrote: I’m not sad. I’m angry.
Honestly? It made me so angry. His comment just basically pushed me to the edge because no matter what his intent, it was like he was one-upping my sorrow by expressing his man anger.
Yes, he is a liberal man. I tend to be liberal too, especially about social issues. And that’s part of what bothered me. I prefer it when people who think they are on my side don’t negate my sorrow with their anger. But I also prefer it when people think and speak in context and with empathy.
I’m editing this to add here that he didn’t intend to do this. I respect him a lot for saying that and appreciate it and his apology an incredible amount. So often results aren’t the same as intentions. Believe me. I know this personally and none of us are always perfect in how and when we state things or how and when we receive them. And when we mess up and hurt someone unintentionally? If you’re a good person, it hurts us so much, too. So much.
The times when I’ve hurt the most in my life have been when I’ve unintentionally hurt other people, but I always want to know when I’ve done that because that’s what helps me grow and hopefully not make that same mistake again.
Anyway, that seemingly small moment? It made me remember when I last ran for office and why I will never run for office again and the truth of it is this – People don’t think like I do. And even though I’m cool with that, it’s frustrating. Because I don’t believe in negating other people’s emotions in favor of my own. I don’t believe in creating a hierarchy of emotions or ‘correct responses.’ That’s not exactly what he did but as a survivor of violence, it’s what it felt like. He was trying to express solidarity, I think, but instead it made my voice/emotion feel unheard with that simple phrasing of “I’m not (what you are). I am this more powerful emotion.”
It is such a small thing. I know that.
Still, I am often voiceless and I felt like that again. It made me think of this:
Here’s a story about what happened to me back in 2008 when I was foolishly running for office. I feel pretty naive about what I wrote then, but I’m posting it anyways. Because I feel foolishly naive today too, especially when I look at my Facebook feed and see community members screaming at each other in ALL CAPS and berating each other’s views.
Today I went to a house and the man put down his chainsaw ( I kid you not) and I gave him my material and said who I was and that I was running.
He looked at the card and said, “What party are you?”
I said, “My husband has always been a Republican and I’m a Democrat and we tend — ”
He stepped up to where he was three inches away from my face and shouted, “Get out of my NAUGHTY WORD driveway you NAUGHTY WORD democrat. You’ve NAUGHTY WORDED everything up.”
He was really close. His fists were clenched. His face was red. He looked like he was about to hit me.
Then he spat in my face. It went in my nostril. Seriously. I now have the worst case of cooties ever.
Plus, you know, the shakes.
Oh, he also threw my brochure at me. It hit me in the head. I used it to wipe away the spittle.
But mostly I was amazed by the hate. I truly believe that not all Democrats are the same, that not all Republicans or Greens or Libertarians are the same. I also truly believe that to assume all members of a political party have the exact same beliefs with the exact same intentions and the exact same nuances is a bigotry. There’s a lot of bigotry out there. I think this is one, too.
Mostly, though, I’m stunned that a man in my city (pop: 6,000) thinks it’s okay to swear at someone and spit at them just because of their political party.
Plus, one of my biggest wants is for their to be more bipartisanship and cooperation in our state legislature. You know… We all have the same goal, don’t we? To have a strong state, strong communities, good economies and good lives?
There is a lot of talk about what teen culture was like in the 1980s compared to now. There is a lot of talk about how hate is given free reign now. But the thing is? The hate has always been there. It was obviously there in 2008.
It was also there in 1992 when Pat Buchanan was running for the Republican nomination for president. At one of his rallies in Manchester, N.H., the men were tallying how many men each women in attendance would have to have sex with in order for every man to get laid. His campaign workers drove down the main drag of Manchester with bull horns and chanted, “We are the gay bashers. We bash gays.”
A date had brought me to the rally so I could “see what his candidate was like.” The same guy told me I’d be a good breeder because my skin is fair and my eyes are blue, but he was concerned by the narrowness of my hips.
I called my mom and she brought me home.
And the hate and the degragation of women and the disenfranchised continues now, obviously. It continues and continues and continues.
I’ve read a lot of comments about ‘boys will be boys’ and how the ‘culture of the 1980s’ was different, but I was talking to one of my favorite straight male friends yesterday and he said, “Yeah. No.”
“What do you mean? ‘Yeah. No?'”
And he said, “Look, I partied pretty hard right after high school and it was the 80s. This high school girl hung around with us for awhile and would get really drunk.”
I didn’t want to hear his story. I admit it. But I didn’t stop him. I listened.
And he told me that one night the girl was so drunk that she basically couldn’t stand up. He and his best friend carried her into a bedroom. She tried to get naked. She made passes at each of them. They wouldn’t touch her sexually. Instead, one of them slept on one side of the bed on the floor. The other one slept on the floor at the bottom of the bed.
“Why’d you do that?” I asked.
“Because we wanted to be good men. We wanted her to be safe, But we… we wanted to be good.”
Two white guys. The 1980s.
“I know everyone’s talking about ‘Sixteen Candles’ and using that scene as some sort of evidence that it was totally fine to rape your friends if they were drunk. It wasn’t,” he said. He sighed. “It’s ridiculous. There are scenes like that now in movies and books, comedy specials. But the thing is that if you are a good person, you know what’s right or what’s wrong. That’s always going to be wrong.”
I’ve just heard a similar story about a woman and two guys in their 20s. It happened just this summer. They were all wasted but they didn’t touch her and she didn’t touch them.
Because that’s what it is to be good.
No. We can’t all be perfect all the time, but there are some things, some important things, that we have to realize as a society aren’t right.
We don’t deserve to be spat on.
We don’t deserve to be told that our emotions don’t matter or to be one-upped on emotional responses.
We all deserve to be safe, to have rights, to be treated with kindness, to be with our loved ones whenever we can, to be respected for the things we do.
We all deserve to have the opportunity to try to be good.
None of us deserve to be afraid of cops, of men, of going to school or our religious institutions, or our own home. But to get there? We have to march into where we are different, where we don’t all think alike or act alike. We have to explore our own wounds and listen to others when they tell their stories.
Being sad, crying, feeling emotions isn’t a weakness. It’s a gift and a strength. And we’ve got to use it to embrace others and to look into the corners of ourselves where we can grow and evolve. All of us.
Sadness is just as valid an emotion as anger and vice versa. But you know what my favorite emotion is? It’s love. And hope? It’s first runner-up. Let’s all try to remember those things to even as we feel our sorrow and anger and pain.