That Sickening Feeling

October 14, 2016

Women all over this country have been jolted today by the revelations of the women who have come forward to talk about their experiences with Donald Trump. We have been forced to confront our own memories of sexual assault, unwanted groping and kissing, saying “No,” and being ignored. Michelle Obama moved us today with her amazing, heartfelt speech. We at are no different. We have recalled incidents from our own pasts, most of us more than one or two, starting in our teens and continuing through college and beyond into the workplace. We have asked ourselves why we didn’t report these things to our parents, to friends, to authorities, and in each case we found that we had good reasons not to. Why didn’t we fight back physically and in the courts? We were ashamed and blamed ourselves. We knew from seeing other women shamed during cross examinations at rape trials that chances were good that the story would quickly go from being about the man doing the assaulting to focusing unfairly on us, the victims, our past sexual experiences and what we were wearing at the time of the assault. In some cases were were pretty sure that our parents would blame us. We knew the wives of these men and didn’t want to hurt them. These men were our professors, our employers in sometimes very specialized fields, and often our bosses. We couldn’t afford to lose the college class lest we not graduate, the job, the money. We didn’t want our spouses to think less of us and suggest that perhaps we’d asked for these unwelcome advances by something we said or did or worse. And most of all, we ourselves were confused about our own responsibility for what had happened.

Today we understand that we were not alone. We were not specially selected for victimhood. We were part of these men’s modus operandi, one of many.  At the time we told ourselves that it was no big deal, that it was just a tongue down the throat, a hand down a blouse, a hand up a skirt, a shove into a dark closet or an office. No one died, we thought, so we will just carry on and try to get over it. But something inside us did die, our self-respect, our dignity, our courage to be ourselves and feel innocent and free. Is this what we want to accept as somehow normal? Not now, not ever. Not for our children and not for ourselves and our country. We all deserve better than that, and perhaps thanks to those willing to speak out, thanks to Michelle Obama, thanks to the decent citizens who are willing to hear the truth, we will be able to end this brutish behavior once and for all in America.


  1. I guess the amazing thing is the women who feel that this is all OK and should be forgiven, or overlooked, or renamed (ie. locker room behavior.) There is so much hypocrisy here. It is also extraordinary how much of this behavior seems to be endemic in our culture.

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