I Am Not Afraid

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“You can do anything…Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” –Donald Trump

 

I overheard a friend recently say that every woman is afraid every day.

I am not afraid.

Despite living in a city that a presidential candidate would have us believe is as dangerous as Baghdad. Despite having my ass grabbed in a crowded museum in this same city when I was on a field trip when I was twelve. Despite my looking behind me into the crowd of faces (all kids, all around my age, boys and girls, some I knew, some I did not) and meeting no eyes, seeing no sympathy. Despite my turning back (maybe I imagined it) to the exhibit, a slice of a human embryo pressed between panes of glass, and again having my ass grabbed. Despite hearing the snickers behind me.

I am not afraid.

Despite having a man come into the Iowa gas station in a safe city where I worked a register during my twenties, come in a few times a week during the evening rush and go into the bathroom, come out with his zipper down and his dick visible, right in my line of sight because that is where he held out his hand to me with his money for the gas he had pumped, for the six pack he had grabbed from the cooler, right there at open-zippered dick level, and the line behind him was long and shuffling, eager to get home to dinner, to the nightly news, to Jeopardy, and it took me a few times of the same damn thing to understand that this was not an accident. This was not an accident.

And to accuse, no matter who it is, a man or a woman, without evidence is damaging and unfair.”- Malania Trump

Still, I am not afraid.

Despite having had a man lure me into Grant Park in this most dangerous city when I was thirteen. Lure me with the promise of five bucks just to listen to him tell a little joke. Despite the joke not being a joke at all, but a stream of filthy, dirty things that he spit out of his mouth while he pulled his dick out and started jacking off, and, like I’ve said I was thirteen, right? Remember? And what could I do? And what could I do? I said I would go with him. I wanted five dollars. And he finished and I followed him out of the park to a bank where he said he was going to get five dollars; he was going to give me ten I was so nice. And I stood outside the bank thinking I had done something worth at least ten bucks, and feeling a little sick with that, a little sad, and the motherfucker never came out. I don’t know where he went, where he disappeared to, but I didn’t see him again. Not that day. But another and another, and I do still, see him everywhere, on the street, on the train, in Grant Park, even though I don’t really see him at all.

How about a little hug for the Bushy?” – Billy Bush

I am not afraid.

Despite having my boobs grabbed while I had my hands up over my head holding a tray of corned beef sandwiches that I was selling in a packed bar on Division Street in this dangerous city on Saint Patrick’s Day when I was twenty-two.

Despite having one of my brother’s friends show up at our house when I was nine and home alone, sick from school. My brother’s friend who I had always had a crush on. A teenager. Show up at the house when I was home sick from school—how did he know? And make me a hot rum toddy (because it would make my throat less sore) and climb under the covers with me, which I liked. And cuddle me. Which I liked. And put his fingers inside me. Which I did not like.

Wow! Just think—in a couple of years, I’ll be dating you.” –Donald Trump

I am not afraid.

Despite having been slipped a valium in my drink at a club by a man I was seeing when I was twenty-three and living in a small, safe city in Iowa, a man who was staying with me and who I was having sex with already, and had intended to have sex with again that night when we got back to my house after the club, so why did he think he needed to drug me? (I never did ask him. Why didn’t I ask him?)

Despite (also in Iowa, in a safe, small city) once having sex with a man on our first (and only) date who I didn’t want to have sex with (sometimes I did on the first date, not with him, but with others I liked better, with others I wanted to have sex with, my choice) but who would not leave me alone and would not go home until I did, and I did, because it was easier to say yes than to say no (you know what I mean, you know it) and my brother was asleep in the next room, our housemate was asleep in another room close by, and I was embarrassed to be half-naked on the couch of my own living room, exposed, (I would not invite him into my bedroom, into my bed, he would not get that from me,) and I just wanted this guy gone. Here, you can have this. Just this. Now go.

Despite having had to resist a guy I knew in college in safe Iowa who, when we sat next to one another in the grass in the dark, a little drunk, a Friday night, finals over, when we kissed, he thought that meant we would fuck, and it did not mean—to my mind—that we would fuck, and I said no. No. No. But the only way I could get him to stop trying to push me down, trying to open my blouse, pull down my jeans, was to promise him we would do this later, not that night, but another, I promise. We never did, and I don’t know why, but it never came up again (pun unintended, but hey, laugh, if you like, we all need to laugh sometimes) even though our paths crossed often, it was a very small school.

These allegations are decades old. If somebody actually did that…any reasonable woman would have come forward and said something at the time.” –A.J. Delgado

I am not afraid.

Despite having once been trapped by—not a co-worker, but a very rich friend of my boss when I worked on the trading floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange—in an empty hallway where he held me and started kissing me and had a look in his eyes I hadn’t seen from him before, he was a nice guy, a funny guy. An angry look. A hateful one. I thought at the time that it may have been because he had lost a lot of money in trades that day, and had recently broken up with his long-time girlfriend (she didn’t want to marry him), and his dog had died just a few days before. And why the fuck am I making excuses for him anyway?

We accepted it for years…We were taught it was our fault.” –Jessica Leeds

I am not afraid.

Despite this. All this. And now I am in my sixth decade (“Believe me, she would not be my first choice.–Donald Trump) and perhaps I have less to fear, perhaps I have more. But I am not afraid. I will not be afraid. I will say yes when I mean yes, and no when I mean no, and I will listen for the voices of others. Did you say no? I hear you. And I will join you.

NO!

No woman deserves to be treated this way—none of us deserves this kind of abuse.” –Michelle Obama

I am not afraid

I am, however, angry. And I am a voter. And I will vote.

 

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23 thoughts on “I Am Not Afraid

  1. Elizabeth

    Wow. Thank you. I could take your piece and slip in my own narrative here and there, in too many respects.
    I will not be afraid.
    And I will vote too.

  2. Well done, Patty. Reading your account (and as many others, like Kelly Oxford’s twitter stream #notokay, as I can stomach) is making me rethink the world drastically. Keep on keeping on. And of course, stay angry and vote.

  3. Deborah Roberts

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful, powerful piece, Patty. It all touches my heart but most especially this: I am not afraid. I am, however, angry. And I am a voter. And I will vote.
    Love and best to you, dear friend.

  4. Dave

    Patty! Right on! Thank you for this. Great courage in putting it down and then getting it out. We live in such a visceral time, a constant stream of insults to our common sense of decency and community, that it is hard to sort out the central themes we all need to live by. Your passage helps. There is intertwined with these themes the issue of failure to protect. Where was everybody when you/others were being groped and grabbed and assaulted? Where is each of us when yet another is crushed and beaten in full view. Yes vote and vote often! We have to work together to stop this insanity.

  5. SO have been there along with you and thousands–millions– of other women and girls…And today is now Nov. 21. Here we remain, with that sort of man readied to be leader of our country. The chronic grief of it, the boxed-up rage, the urgent desire for justice and the forlorness of having lost so much amid the beauty of living –and yet: I stand with you. I am not afraid, either. Even though the world is full of fear-mongering and capricious hate, we have to continue to believe in much better than what we are told is our new/old reality. I still will say NO with you and work with my small life to make it shine…

  6. Patricia, appreciate reading your words, as well. And I have always appreciated ypur photographs/prompts–i have used several over the years. (The last was posted yesterday entitled Shalimar Girls.) Best to you and yours this coming holiday season. And may we gain peace and deeper authenticity in our writing and strength and compassion in our living.

  7. I saw a man sitting on a riverbank once and he saw me and he let his dick slip out of his shorts so I could see. It was limp and hairy and white, and it scared the ten year old me and I pulled my little brother away and we went home without looking back. That’s it, nothing worse than that… and all that happened to you and I think if you were afraid it would be understandable and yet you are not. You are brave and worthy and you have my greatest respect. And all those men, they are not really men, or they are damaged, and they should be unmasked and made to get help so that they do not damage others. I am sorry that all of this happened to you, Patty.

    1. Hello, Lindsay! Welcome back. Sorry I have been out of touch. Traveling right now so a bit slow in communications, but I am so very happy to have you visit these pages again. Your books? Your life? I have missed you.

  8. Hi Patty. Everything is good here. Writing a fair bit still and got myself into some nice places… but no actual book yet. It will happen one day. Doing some courses too. Hope you are travelling some place nice and maybe some place warm. And is there a book of yours surfacing anytime soon? I do hope so.

    1. Dave

      Good to hear your voice again, Lindsay. Haven’t forgotten you guys. Will stay connected through this blog. Perhaps some day in a pub in London, or a patisserie in Paris….

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