This Shit is Not Okay

Final Fortnight, Day 12

At the news of Sean Connery’s death, I posted the video of his interview with Barbara Walters in which Connery reiterated his philosophy about slapping women “only when they deserve it,” like when they won’t stop talking.

Connery’s attitude is precisely what I grew up with. My father was physically abusive–mostly to my brothers, but used his size and enormous voice and dominance to control all the kids.

I have three older brothers. When I confronted one of them in adulthood about the fact that he used to beat on me when I was a girl, at first he denied it. Then he said “You should have been hit more.” Yes, I’m sure that would have been much better. And it is this administration’s resemblance to the men in my family of origin that has caused my seething rage for the last four years.

Because of my family history, I was particularly nauseated by Connery’s lionization. He is simply another good-looking dude who made a lot of movies based on an indistinct accent* and squinty machismo. I saw other people posting about Connery’s wife-beating history. Some people responded that they’d never heard about it. Some didn’t seem to care.

Some respondents claimed that pointing out the abuse was the problem, and “not a word about this man’s enthusiastic endorsement of smacking down women when they get too mouthy.”

Which, I think, defines the critical divide in our country.

The last four years have been an exercise in saying “Whoa, this shit is NOT OKAY”. The #MeToo movement, which started in 2006, but exploded after the Danger Donnie took office in part because so many women were horrified that that particular genus of ineptitude and immorality had reached the highest level of promotion. It became a deafening chorus of people saying “ENOUGH.” Many of those people had previously been told to be quiet, to not make waves, to stop “ruining men’s lives” by speaking of the abuse the men had done.

The number of protests that have arisen in this president’s tenure is staggering. There’s a powerful defiance in the movements, including the March for our Lives, which began in response to another mass shooting at a high school and has become a bold, structured organization mobilizing youth for change; protests against the administration’s Muslim ban, and vigils protesting ICE detention of asylum seekers and raids and the family separation policy, and then this summer, the marches across the country after George Floyd and Breonna Taylor were murdered by police.

All of these voices were raised together in a crie de coeur–NO MORE. It’s the hearts of the people who have lived at the margins of our society crying out now to say ENOUGH. We’ve been dismissed and abused and killed long enough; we want our country to DO BETTER. To BE better. It’s our country too. We’re done being silent and simply accepting our “place.”

The response has been mixed. Some have recognized the truth and power of this national movement for change and have joined them, raising their voices in encouragement and shared outrage. But some — a disappointing number — have answered “Sit down, and shut up. Don’t talk about the bad things that have happened! How dare you point out that Black people are getting killed? YOU are a reverse racist for even saying that!” It’s an abusive man who believes he has an unlimited right to do whatever he wants, swinging the back of his hand at your insolence.

But that’s a result of our unchallenged, ingrained thinking: that’s not right. It’s not true.

Pointing out abuse is not the problem.

The ABUSE is the problem. All the different kinds of abuse. Racism, sexism, ableism, and all their subsets, and the action taken on behalf of those beliefs. That is why our country is falling apart.

All these voices together are saying they want a different country than the one that allows this persistent abuse to continue. We want a change.

I’m not sure the country will survive if things don’t change.

This week is going to be hard. But it is my fervent hope that the voices that have joined together on the streets and in ballot boxes are forcing that change right now. No more silence. Enough.

In 72 hours, we may be on the path to a better country.

*yes, I know he’s Scottish. IDGAF

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