TIME’s Person of the Year cover came out today. I’m guessing the Predator-in-Chief probably feels cheated that he didn’t make the cut. However, in an indirect way, Donald J. Trump opened that door to making the public aware of the crap men—both powerful and ordinary Joes—have been getting away with for decades.
I’ve lost count of how many times men have made rude remarks, ogled, groped, and tried to force themselves onto me. The first time I was eight years old. A man—a total stranger—exposed himself, masturbated and ejaculated in front of me.
Another time I felt something was off was when a friend of my parents would always greet me with a kiss on the hand and a cordial “How do you do, Miss Schiller.” It was creepy, but my mother said he was charming. Was it charming when he made inappropriate remarks and ogled me at fifteen and eighteen? My mother finally got the clue that wasn’t charm, but predatory behavior.
I’ve been groped at parties. One man shoved his tongue in my mouth. The guy I was dating thought it was funny. I’ve had men on the street whisper obscenities in my ear and touch me. And I’ve had boyfriends who refused to accept no for an answer.
Since I was eight years old, I thought it was my fault. I did something to provoke the bad behavior: for being pretty, for wearing something too revealing, for being too flirtatious or that I wouldn’t be believed for telling the truth.
Every single woman I’ve known has experienced a sexual indignity in one form or another. Not once, but countless of times. Is it surprising we’re angry, we’ve had enough, and we refuse to remain silent?
I don’t have one ounce of sympathy directed at the men who have been accused. Lost your job and the respect of your colleagues, friends, and family? Too bad, but it’s still not enough. Live with the fear and the humiliation and then you’ll have an idea of what it’s like receiving unwanted sexual attention and the shame that goes with it.
Congratulations to the Silence Breakers for their bravery and not keeping silent. Thank you TIME Magazine for making these brave women our Person of the Year.
We will never be silenced again.