Because It’s Personal.

I live in a small town. On the 5 miles of main road that leads people in and out of our town, there are three HUGE Trump signs. I’ve been counting signs since earlier this year, and the Trump signs are about 5 to 1. They far outweigh any other sign. My town is also not at all very diverse, and we have a pretty significantly older population – the kind of people that vote down ANY increase in the school budget, because they remember the days when stamps were 10 cents each.

Normally I don’t address politics on this blog.

But this election cycle is different.

**********

I was 11 when a group of boys in the 7th grade noticed I had breasts… and cornered me at school, every day, so they could feel them. I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t scream, I didn’t tell anyone about it, it just happened. I don’t actually know how long it went on, nor what happened to get them to stop, but I spent the rest of the year walking around with books or a binder in front of me, hiding the fact that I had a chest.

I was 12 when the new pastor of my church drove me to summer vacation bible school and put his hand on my bare thigh, his fingers just under the hem of my shorts. I just sat there, my heart pounding, pretending I didn’t notice. And on the way home, I made my sister sit between us. I quit going to church that fall.

I was 14 when my friend and I snuck out at night and went to her boyfriend’s house. While she went off into her boyfriend’s room, I sat in a dark room with his brother, who shoved his penis into my mouth so I could suck it. I did, because I didn’t know how to tell him no.

The fallout from these events: I made myself ugly. I gained weight. I hid my face behind massive bangs, and I dressed in baggy clothes. In high school, I crushed on guys who were gay, who I KNEW wouldn’t take advantage of me. In college, I met decent, respectful guys and hung out with them, in my flannels and jeans and baseball hats – I learned how to be one of them. After college, I went back to school for TWO Master degrees, because I thought smart women garner more respect from men. In business, I dressed like a man – pants and black and white and very little makeup. I never got too drunk at business parties, stayed away from personal topics, always talking about work. Work work work.

I didn’t even realize I was doing it.

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I watched 20 minutes of the first debate, then went to Facebook to get a sense of what people were thinking and feeling. I don’t actually know any Trump supporters – at least any that would post pro-Trump stuff on Facebook. But what I saw were people continuing to say, I hate them both. It made me feel ill.

I missed the second debate, since we were at a campsite with no cell phone reception. I didn’t hear about the tape of Trump saying he’d grab a woman and take what he wants from her because he’s famous and CAN. I also missed the Facebook live press conference he held AND the actual debate. I was thankful.

I was less thankful when we got home; my neighbor across the street had put up a Trump sign.  Facing my house.

And then, I read an article that a Canadian journalist asked for women to tweet their stories of sexual assault – to overwhelming response. What happened to me happened to millions of other women.

And then… I read what he said about women.

I felt sick all over again.

**********

I’ve been telling myself this whole time – since the first Trump signs in my town went up, since the first debate, when I had such a visceral reaction: Karen, don’t take this election personally. It’s not like people hate YOU or anything. It has nothing to DO with you.

But it’s clear from this weekend: it IS personal.

It always HAS been personal.

We are less than a month away from the election.

On one side, there’s a man who says exactly what he’s thinking, who has usurped politics by normalizing fear and discrimination and domination. He has very few plans, but lots of great lines about Making America Great Again! while also bragging about his penis size and how he can get any woman he wants – regardless of whether they want him or not.

And on the other side, there is a smart, very ambitious woman who has spent her life working in male-dominated worlds, who has learned how to be one of them, who seems cold and distant and hard. People don’t like her.

The crazy thing is that she’s unlikeable because of men like Trump. I know this first hand because I do the same.

So yes, it’s personal. It’s SO personal. And what I can’t understand, what I will never understand, is how people can watch the fucking awfulness that is Trump and say, Yeah, but I don’t like Hillary Clinton.

Because this isn’t about likeability. It’s not even about politics; these are not two equal candidates, debating about their views on domestic and international policies. This is about hate and entitlement and prejudice. With every news story, I have been reliving every time I’ve felt powerless and scared about being female. And saying Yeah, but… continues to normalize it.

It’s not okay.

None of this is okay.

We cannot continue to condone hate and anger. We are all human and equal, and our children deserve better than this.

All of us deserve better than this.

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19 Responses to Because It’s Personal.

  1. Mel says:

    Thank you for putting these words out there. I know it’s hard to talk about this, but it is so important for these stories to be told. Sending a hug.

  2. DOUGLAS SETTELE says:

    APPLAUSE !!! I don’t what else to say …..

  3. Deborah says:

    Yes. Thank you for saying this. I’ve seen lots of Trump signs near me, too. It baffles me. I’m scared of this election.

  4. KP – You are a remarkable woman, who has amazing courage and strength to share your story with others. I am so sorry that you endured all of those horrible events in your life. It is a crying shame that we were never empowered to stand up for ourselves, to tell others, to make it stop, and to take back control of our own dignity. I really hope you sharing your story will make just one Trump supporter think twice about the message that they are sending by supporting him. I am sending you a HUGE hug to say you are a beautiful, strong and amazing woman. Love Shelly

  5. I am so sorry those things happened to you. Thank you for sharing your story. I agree these candidates are NOT equal. It is NOT a question of a lesser of two evils. It is a strong, powerful, confident woman who is MORE than qualified to be our president… and a CLOWN who is also a SEXUAL PREDATOR. I feel sickened when people say they “just don’t like Hillary”. I have friends who are democrats who agree with her policies but are mad because they “don’t like her”. Okay, so you don’t have to hang out with her. But you can still vote for her right? The person who wants to do something about climate change. The person who wants to protect marriage equality and women’s healthcare. The person who wants to IMPROVE the Affordable Care Act.

    Those entire election has displayed how hard it is to be a woman. I am ASHAMED and embarrassed that Hillary had to stand up on that debate stage and listen to Donald degrade her and spew lie after lie. He makes up his own facts.

    I am terrified of a Trump presidency.

    I could go on all day!!!!

  6. a says:

    I couldn’t imagine who would vote for him initially, but after all of this I really don’t understand anyone who continues to defend him.

  7. Karen Diamant says:

    I am very sorry these things happened to you. But imagine you were raped at 12 you have the courage to bring that 40 years old man to court and his female lawyer Hillary Clinton belittles you and got him off with only time served. Than laughed about multiple times in interviews over the years. Also that woman’s husband has many, many sexual assault allegations against him and she bullied and threatened the victims. But Trump said bad things… Actions or words which are worse.

    • a says:

      Everyone accused of a crime in this country is entitled to a defense. Oftentimes, as in the case you reference, the defense is appointed by the court. If every attorney refused to defend the accused to the best of their ability, what kind of justice system would we have? I encourage you to read more thoroughly about the case before you use it as a measure of someone’s character.

    • Kate says:

      Trump has done bad things, tremendously bad things. If you think otherwise you must be living under a rock. Let Karen tell her story. She is brave and wants to be heard, she doesn’t need your opinion on this.

    • Melissa Parent says:

      Imagine you are a young female defense attorney trying to get a law clinic started, and a judge appoints you (over your objections) to the case of a 40-year old defendant who, under your guidance, PLEADS GUILTY to raping a 12 year old girl. You work, as you are required to, to get him the best possible deal for that plea, because you support our Constitution and criminal justice system, which is based on the idea that every single citizen is entitled to the best defense possible. In fact, this is why you want to open a law clinic.

      Then, decades later, imagine you are interviewed about your history, and this comes up, and you comment on how strange and distasteful the whole case was to you. You specifically note the odd way that the lie detector showed him to be telling the truth when he denied involvement, even though he had already admitted to the crime, and laugh about how you will never trust that piece of technology again.

      THEN, imagine someone makes a meme about the case which gets the facts flatly wrong, and ignores others, and uses it to make it look like you were mocking that little girl, when in fact you have spent your entire career championing women’s rights.

      And imagine people are stupid enough to fall for it, because they like their information in small, digestible bites, no matter how ignorant and foolish it makes them.

      Wait, you don’t have to imagine that last bit.

      • D A Bowles says:

        I’ve watched the video twice that Trump supporters claim shows Hillary laughing about or at the 12-y-0 victim. I dispute that interpretation. In an interview decades later, Hillary describes the ineptness of the crime lab in that particular Arkansas county and the primitive forensics facility (a detective magazine filled basement) in the Brooklyn home of the crime “expert.” Hillary is heard laughing about how useless the crime investigation was in those past years. With hindsight, it was a ludicrous case. The plea bargain was time served and four years probation.

  8. An old friend says:

    KP I truly feel for you and all that you have lived through. I was raped by my brother for 3 years and no one believed me when I finally had the courage to tell someone, so I put it behind me and moved on. Freshman year when a “friend” invited me over to watch a movie, I thought nothing of it until I couldn’t get him off of me until he was finished. I kept quiet about it because I didn’t want the same ridicule I faced when I was younger. I put it behind me and moved on. I have had other gropings that men thought they could get away with because what was I going to do about it. I actually became more aggressive with men so i could feel more in control. That didn’t help. So then I decided to just ignore people so I could stay safe. I still try not to think about the past, but the news has been throwing that entitlement issue back in my face and I cannot take it any longer. I have a daughter and I don’t ever want to think that someone will do to her what you and I had to deal with. You make a lot of valid points and I’d prefer to vote for you, but I think I’ve finally made up my mind and you leading it all out there has helped me do that. Thank you!

  9. Mary Kate Birge says:

    Karen,
    You are unbelievably brave. Thank you for sharing these terribly painful experiences with the rest of the U.S. We must stop Trump. Thank you for your willingness to stand up and to say, “No more!”

  10. Becky says:

    I love you KP!! You embody strength.

  11. Mum says:

    All I can say is we have a lot in common, I liked and respected you before,now I’m in awe of your courage

  12. Justine says:

    Thank you, Karen, for speaking out. I have stories like this too … and to think that someone is standing up there publicly acting in this way and earning the respect of anyone in this country is sickening. People think we were post-racist, and now realize that we’re not; video proves it. People think we are post-sexist, and now, with the stories of assault front and center, and with people STILL siding with Trump, it’s clear that we’re not. We have so much to do, and we can only do that if we believe, as you do, that we deserve better. Sending you so much love.

  13. Trapper says:

    Thank you for this post. Thank you for helping the rest of us know that we’re not alone in this.

  14. Concerned American says:

    What happened to you was wrong. And, all of the other stories that I have come across where women were abused were wrong and should not have happened. Yes, men like Trump do not deserve the presidency. But, that is NOT a valid reason to vote for HRC. There are too many actual facts to post here as to why HRC is not fit nor qualified to be president. But she has betrayed not only the young woman who was raped by her client. But she tormented the women Bill slept with. Since then, she’s conspired on the Iraq War which killed thousands of women, She pushed President Obama into the middle eastern conflicts that we’ve seen in the news, that are not only killing thousands of women but also kids. She’s known for accepting money from countries that treat women as second hand citizens and are human rights abusers, she’s conspired and help put through a deal that gave away 1/3 of America’s Uranium to the Russians. She used the Haitian Earthquake tragedy to create wealth for her and her friends which Haiti still hasn’t recovered from. She runs a pseudo charity foundation which isn’t built upon the rule of law nor does it give more than 10% to any charity, it’s her own personal slush fund. By her decision, she’s taken down Democratically elected governments and is responsible for the deaths of thousands.

    Before you decide to vote for HRC, do what many of her constituents WILL NOT do, research. You don’t have to listen to a word that I’ve written. But you do need to perform due diligence about who you’re helping to put into the White House. She’s threaten to use military force on RUSSIA and China for cyber-crimes. We’re talking WWIII.

    If you want a real champion, look thoroughly at Jill Stein.

  15. Risa says:

    Karen, thank you for this. It’s not easy telling these stories, and you’re right. This isn’t about politics. This is about violence against women.
    Sending you hugs.

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