Last night, I laid in my hotel room and cried. I let Donald Trump’s ugly words wash over me and the stress I’ve been feeling for months as this race stretches on and on and I cried.
I cried for every friend I’ve had tearfully confess that she had a secret and then share the heart-wrenching details of her sexual assault. I cried over the fear I’ve felt every time I’ve had a man yell sexually explicit things at me on the street. I cried for the people I know – people I believe to be well-meaning good people – who defended Trump’s words and used words like “boys will be boys” and “that’s how it is.”
I cried for Daisy and Audrie, whose stories I had watched a few nights before. I cried for every girl and woman out there witnessing this national discussion and having their own wounds re-opened and exposed.
I cried for my boys. I cried because being their mother can seem like such a daunting task sometimes that I wonder if I have the strength.
You see I realized something as I watched people defend this man’s vile heinous language. I realized why I had been passionately fighting with my own family about rape culture over the past few months.
Because when you say “boys will be boys”, you mean my boys.
You’re implying there is something dark and carnal lurking deep inside my little boys. The ones I cuddle and hold tight. The ones who hold my heart in their grubby little hands as they run and jump and smile wildly up at me. “I love you, Mommy.”
You’re saying that they will grow up and become men and become capable of taking something that does not belong to them, of breaking it, of destroying it.
I am capable of accepting a lot of things about motherhood. I am capable of facing the vulnerability inherent in this endeavor. I can face the lack of control. I can face the frustration and the bittersweet grief. I can even face the inherent risk of losing them forever.
But I cannot and will not accept that deep in their core lurks a rapist.
Of course, there is another underlying presumption when people say “boys will be boys” – when you blame the victim for the fact that she was drinking or flirting or being sexual.
It’s that the boys aren’t dark and sinister for taking because you can’t take what already belongs to you.
I’ve seen it a million times in men who look at me and comment on how I look or how I walk or how I act. You can hear it dripping in every word Donald Trump says on that tape.
You are here for my enjoyment. You have no value outside of what I assign to you.
I laid in my bed and wept because these are the impossible choices available to me as a mother of three young boys in 2016. Believe that my children are capable of rape based solely on their sex OR believe that I have no value because of mine.
There is something dark and cruel lurking deep within but it's not deep within my boys. It's deep within all of us if we continue to support a culture that assumes men are driven to terrible things because they are men or that women deserve terrible things because they are women.
Culture always wins, but culture can change.
We can change.