When my kids were tiny, I noticed that after working their way through colds or viruses they seemed different. They seemed stronger, tougher. They had gained grit. With each illness I became less anxious because I knew what was waiting for us on the other side. I started to think of it as a kind of molting—all the runny noses and fevers were the body’s way of casting off old, unnecessary layers. Each sick day made room for new growth. And so we would settle in. With blankets and hot tea, long naps and foot rubs, we would wait it out.
To say our country is in the process of molting may sound indifferent or tolerant, but I assure you it is neither of these things. My rage is a slow burn, and I control the heat. Envisioning a fresh start on the other side of this catastrophe is my only way through it.
Yesterday, America’s Dad was sentenced to prison. It took over 10 years, 2 trials and 60 accusers to seal Bill Cosby’s fate because rape culture rarely punishes rapists. Tomorrow we will watch an all-male judiciary committee preside over the questioning of Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault. We can expect a lot of slut shaming and hypocrisy.
In a culture where women are continually asked to revisit trauma, sexual violation starts to seem commonplace. The #MeToo and #WhyIDidntReport campaigns confirmed what I suspected: that nearly every one of my friends has been sexually assaulted. And while these movements have brought many of us together in a wave of female emotional examination and support, they have also driven us apart. Many women are turning against those who claim to have survived sexual violence, and I can’t help but wonder if this is some deep-level misogyny at work, or if it’s done to protect their husbands, and by association, themselves.
Just watch Ashley Kavanaugh as she stands by her man, clutching at her pearls, defending him against criminal allegations. Does she think that he is guilty of getting loaded and shoving his junk in a women’s face? Maybe. Is she so lost in the grip of privilege that she has no choice but support the man to whom she’s hitched her social and financial security? Probably.
We prepare ourselves for disappointment. We know the truth may not be revealed. The details may never come to surface. But it doesn’t matter. We’re women on the verge. We’re sloughing cells. We’re leaving endoskeletons and tattered wings in our wake. We’re growing fresh skin. We’re sitting perched at the precipice and we hope all our sisters are with us and ready—but if you’re not, please, get the fuck out of our way.