On sexual violence and harassment

For me, the heart of today’s conversation about sexual violence and harassment is how these reflect and maintain women’s status generally in our society, and in the world, as second-class citizens. That circle easily widens to include people who don’t confirm to their expected gender, and who by doing so so are traitors to the system.

I believe it is inspired in part by the recent and courageous conversations about how violence against Black people serves to maintain their status, and how the stepping up of racist rhetoric — and ICE raids — keep Muslim and Latinx people “in their place”.

I’m still having trouble embracing the word “intersectionalty”. It feels academic and invented. But I do embrace the idea behind it, that there are connections among oppressions, and that I cannot morally or even practically expect liberation for myself (as a gay person) while continuing to oppress others directly or indirectly, and to benefit from this oppression (in my case, of women, of so many other ethnicities and folks around the world toiling for my comfort, of other social classes and legal statuses, the list is long).

This feels like a moment of potential shift in our society, if we keep our intentions clear, our justified anger focused and disciplined, our minds aware of the connections among us, and our hearts open.

And if we tell our despair and hopelessness that maybe there is a chance, right now, for it to transform into grief and outrage, and that it will be heard by others, acknowledged, and even come to some resolution.

We all have something to lose, some much more than others, from changing the status quo. It could even fundamentally destabilize our society — and we must watch for those who will take advantage of this, those who aspire to rule us from near or afar.

But we also have so much to gain. Let’s do this together. And listen. And learn.

I’m telling myself: “Heave! Shift! Put your back into it. Feel the strength of everyone else around you and try again!”