Life Imitates Heart

A woman’s sacrifice

I don’t know that I actually have articulate words to express what I felt during Dr. Ford’s testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee today. I don’t know that there are words to relay this kind of helpless rage, this endless, soundless screaming into the void, this “I want to tear my skin off and feed it to the wolves” kind of feeling. This rage that is all fire without a drop of water in sight.

Senator Kamala Harris called Dr. Ford a hero, but even “hero” feels flimsy under the weight of what Dr. Ford has had to endure since she came forward, and the lifelong trauma she’s had to endure every day since the events that transpired 30 years ago.

But today, her trauma wasn’t just her’s anymore. It was all of ours. Her trauma was acute and ageless in one breath. It was simultaneously her’s as well as the collective traumatic history of every woman who has ever been silenced. Who has ever been shamed. Who has ever been assaulted, or beaten, or abused, or made to feel less than because of her gender, who has ever had to sit in a room full of hostile men and tell her truth with poise while the man after her came in screaming.

My numb hands shook as Dr. Ford spoke. My heart broke when she gave the details of her sexual assault on live national television and then was asked twice what part of the assault she’ll never forget.

The laughter. She will never forget the laughter.

And throughout the hearing – while she re-lived the most painful memory of her life, while she was essentially cross-examined as if she herself had committed a crime by being assaulted – Dr. Ford remarked over and over again that she wished she could be more helpful.

She, who has had her life ripped apart by having the courage to come forward with this allegation, wished she could be more helpful to the people who wanted nothing more than to wipe her and her allegations clean from their minds.

And that is what this world does to women. Asks them to stand in front of the entire world and be the epitome of a perfect victim while they apologize for not being better.

After what I witnessed today, after this month, after the #MeToo movement that has defined this past year, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t days I didn’t wish I could rid myself of this female veneer. I’m tired. I’m tired of being a woman in a world that hates women. I’m tired of my body and my lived-experiences being cast as playing-pieces in men’s unyielding struggle for power.

I’m tired of having to be strong; women are the epitome of strength and yet I’m exhausted by having to live up to the standard of strength that is expected of us simply to endure.

But I cannot escape this body any more than I can escape the men who think it’s their god-given right to control it.

Days like this, I wish I could. I wish I could lop off this hair and these breasts and walk through life like a real person deserving of real human dignity instead of the unbelievable, submissive, just-here-for-the-taking object that these power-drunk men so desperately want us all to be.

I wish being born a woman didn’t mean having to carve out a secret compartment in my body – one that should be filled with love and hope and dreams – to keep all this unplaceable rage. Instead of hollowing me out, I wish this world would just give us a place on equal footing to exist. I wish it would believe us. I wish it would take heed of this wildfire of rage that burns in our collective bodies.

I watched a woman sacrifice everything for the good of her country today. Dr. Ford’s family is in hiding. She will never be anonymous again. Her life will be forever uprooted because she believed it was her duty to come forward.

I wish I had a modicum of faith that her bravery is going to change anything.

But a woman’s sacrifice rarely does.

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