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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

Be the Heroine

The U.S. is about to seat a new justice to the Supreme Court. Today, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified against Kavanaugh whom she asserts sexually assaulted her in high school. Since coming forward, Ford has received death threats, been harassed and she and her family have been forced from their home. People have dismissed her claims because she reported them so many years later. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations and today stated that he was the victim of an “orchestrated political hit.”

Here’s the thing – we don’t believe women. We blame them when they are assaulted – they were drunk, they flirted, they dressed provocatively.

Shortly after 1 AM on January 18, 2015, law enforcement officers responded to a report of an unconscious female in a field near the Stanford University Kappa Alpha fraternity house. About 25 yards away, two men, passers-by, had pinned down and restrained Turner. One of the men said, "We found him on top of the girl!" These men testified in court against Turner who was sentenced to six months. Six. Months. And this attack was witnessed.

We don’t value women. Earlier this year, Pew Research reported: In 2017, women earned 82% of what men earned, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of median hourly earnings of both full- and part-time workers in the United States. Based on this estimate, it would take an extra 47 days of work for women to earn what men did in 2017.

For many years, I told myself a story. I told myself that discrimination in America wasn’t pervasive. I wanted to believe this.

Sure – I had seen firsthand how racism was prevalent in Alabama. In the mid-1990s, I was Active Duty Army and stationed in Ft. Rucker, Alabama. I was assigned an additional detail which was “funeral detail” which was myself and a team of U.S. Army soldiers, totaling 9 of us, would travel in a van to far flung reaches of the deep south to perform military funeral honors to deceased veterans. I was the only female amongst the team. During one of these assignments, we were having difficulty locating the cemetery so the staff sergeant in charge who was always behind the wheel and at the head of the coffin pulled over and asked someone for help locating the cemetery. The person whom we asked paused and drawled, “Are you looking for the black cemetery? Or the white one?” Initially, the staff sergeant was confused by this question so the person pressed on, “Was the person who died white? Or were they black?” A hush fell over the van and I tried not to make eye contact with anyone but particularly my fellow soldier who was originally from the Dominican Republic. The driver was Hispanic. The person we were burying? They were a dead veteran. Someone who served their country. We didn’t know his color.

Years later, residing in Massachusetts, I told myself that yes, most people believe that black lives matter and that women were valued. I don’t believe that to be true in today’s America and it wasn’t true for a long time. There was evidence of this - - sign posts that I blew past priding myself on the fact that I wasn’t a racist. That I valued equal rights for people in minority parties of which I find myself in a few as a woman married to a woman.

This story, this narrative, it's infuriating to realize you told yourself a lie to believe that things were not as bad as they are. We shall overcome. This much I know is true.

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” ― Nora Ephron

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