The words “courage” and “hero” are thrown around far too easily in our society. An athlete, or a singer, or a businessman, does something a little different or out of the ordinary, and we laud them with those words like they landed at Normandy or something.
Let me tell you what I think courage is: Courage is a rape victim standing up in court last week, after her convicted attacked received the pathetically light sentence of six months in jail, and speaking powerfully, emotionally and honestly about everything she has gone through.
A victim who has the horror of that night seared into her mind and body forever, while Mr. Brock Turner (above), the Stanford swimmer who met the victim at a party in 2015, got drunk along with her, then sexually assaulted her behind a dumpster, sat there and listened to it.
If you haven’t been following this story, it has happily gotten huge play over the past few days.
The victim’s speech in court has gotten more than 6 million views on Buzzfeed, where it was first published. CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield read the entire thing on live TV Tuesday. What this young woman did took so much guts, and so much courage, that when I finished it my jaw was on the floor. I am in awe of her.
I could not encourage you more strongly to read the whole thing. It speaks to the power of the human spirit.
Rape is a disgusting, hideous crime which so often gets covered up or excused by our court system. Here, in plain English, we see what it really looks like.
Here are just a few passages from this incredible speech.
One day, I was at work, scrolling through the news on my phone, and came across an article. In it, I read and learned for the first time about how I was found unconscious, with my hair disheveled, long necklace wrapped around my neck, bra pulled out of my dress, dress pulled off over my shoulders and pulled up above my waist, that I was butt naked all the way down to my boots, legs spread apart, and had been penetrated by a foreign object by someone I did not recognize.
This was how I learned what happened to me, sitting at my desk reading the news at work. I learned what happened to me the same time everyone else in the world learned what happened to me. That’s when the pine needles in my hair made sense, they didn’t fall from a tree. He had taken off my underwear, his fingers had been inside of me. I don’t even know this person. I still don’t know this person. When I read about me like this, I said, this can’t be me, this can’t be me. I could not digest or accept any of this information. I could not imagine my family having to read about this online. I kept reading. In the next paragraph, I read something that I will never forgive; I read that according to him, I liked it. I liked it. Again, I do not have words for these feelings…
And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times. She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming…
My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition. I became closed off, angry, self deprecating, tired, irritable, empty. The isolation at times was unbearable. You cannot give me back the life I had before that night either. While you worry about your shattered reputation, I refrigerated spoons every night so when I woke up, and my eyes were puffy from crying, I would hold the spoons to my eyes to lessen the swelling so that I could see. I showed up an hour late to work every morning, excused myself to cry in the stairwells, I can tell you all the best places in that building to cry where no one can hear you.
When I see my younger sister hurting, when she is unable to keep up in school, when she is deprived of joy, when she is not sleeping, when she is crying so hard on the phone she is barely breathing, telling me over and over again she is sorry for leaving me alone that night, sorry sorry sorry, when she feels more guilt than you, then I do not forgive you.
**Next up today, Hillary Rodham Clinton gave a speech Tuesday night as the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party. For President of the United States.
And she’s a woman. I feel the need to point that out because so many Bernie supporters seem so angry, so bitter, so unwilling to acknowledge the game is over and she won.
I’m not one of those people. I was surprised at my own reaction Tuesday night, as the most famous woman in America bounded onto the stage in Brooklyn to give a speech, and I got a little emotional for a few seconds.
It’s been more than 200 years of democracy in America, and we finally decided to give a woman a chance at the top job. For all the things Hillary Clinton is (and is not), she’s a symbol to young girls everywhere that you really CAN do anything boys can do, that there’s no longer any barriers to achieving the ultimate prize.
And as much as I’ve railed against her, as much as I don’t trust her and as much as I doubt her sincerity on many of her positions, it’s a pretty wonderful thing for the U.S. to finally nominate a woman. And she is going to be President, and with a Democratic Senate, she may even turn out to be a pretty good President.
It was a historic night. My fellow Bernie backers need to suck it up and realize she’s the nominee, and get her elected.
**Finally, tonight is the season finale of “The Americans” and I am as amped up for this finale as I have been for all the others on the best show on TV. This season has been, in a word, magnificent, probably their best yet (SPOILER ALERT, IF YOU’RE NOT CAUGHT UP, STOP READING).
Just about every episode this season has ratcheted up the tension, whether making Paige Jennings just a little more aware of how cunning and deadly her parents are, or Phillip and Elizabeth both having major second thoughts about their operations, or poor clueless FBI agent Stan Beamon trying desperately to stay relevant and with a step or two of the Russians.
Last week’s last few minutes stretched credibility a little for me (come on, within a few days of Oleg’s tip they already had found William and where we worked) but damn if I am psyched for tonight. So many plotlines to wrap up, including Gabriel and his future, whether Henry Jennings will EVER come out of his room and hear what he’s missing, and if Don and Young Hee get divorced (that storyline killed me. So, so heart-wrenching.)
“The Americans” is as good as it gets on American TV. So thrilled it’s been renewed for two more seasons. And I can’t wait to see what happens tonight.