On the way to Target the other day I was listening to the news, the recent news of Trump and the woman he “Octopus armed” on the airplane. It reminded me of my Greyhound Bus trip to Wyoming when I was seventeen years old. A guy sat next to me, (which always happened on the Greyhound). We talked during the day, he’s from Detroit, he tells me about the Car manufacturing business, how it’s all getting shut down. I listen in earnest, something I’ve always done. I like listening to what people have to say, hearing their stories. Sometimes men misunderstood this and thought I like them in a sexual way. I got tired of listening at some point, the conversation got boring. As the day turned into night I pretended I was asleep. The guy put a blanket over both of us, slid his hand under the blanket and up my t-shirt and started feeling my boobs. At first, I continued to pretend I was sleeping, I figured he would lay off. I figured I could just let him get a feel and he’d leave me alone. He didn’t let up, he got more into it, he tried to kiss me, he had bad breath. That’s when I finally said “leave me alone”. He was mad, I couldn’t wait till he got off the bus. As a kid growing up I had several encounters like this, which would be classified more as molestation I guess, since they were grown men and I was a child. One time I was in the back of my dad’s pick-up truck, my dad’s friend was laying next to me. We were laying down with a blanket over us because it was illegal for us to be riding in the back like that. The man reached his hand under my shirt and started feeling my under-developed ten-year-old boobs. I never told anyone. Another time when I was twelve my mom left me with one of her friends while she went to her class at Grossmont College. He was teaching me racquetball. He stood behind me, spread my legs and stuck his hand up my little green terry cloth shorts my mom brought me back from Acapulco. I was paralyzed. Thank god, my mom came back soon. I went to the bathroom and found a Band-Aid stuck to my butt, it fell off his finger when he was molesting me. I never told anyone.
My mom was a strong woman. She was a feminist. She didn’t raise me in princess outfits or to think I needed a man or that men had any power over me. But I lived like men were above me, like they had power over me. Like the things they did were just natural, a natural human drive. I never thought they crossed a boundary. I thought it was my fault. I erased these incidents out of my mind.
This week I am seeing things in a different light. I am seeing that sexism is so engrained in our society. I wonder how we are raising our girls, the media, the toys they make for girls. The focus on being pretty for little girls, being sexy for women. It’s everywhere, it makes women powerless, even when our mothers are feminists. We need to change our collective consciousness as women, as mothers. As I turned 45 this year I felt a deep change come over me. I don’t know if it is because of all the shit I’ve been through, the soul searching and craziness I went through with infertility. I don’t know if it’s the experience of being a mother, but I finally don’t give a shit what people think of me. More specifically I don’t feel like I need to wear lipstick all the time or a bra. I don’t care if people think I’m old or ugly or un-feminine. I only wish I could have had this confidence when I was a young girl, when I was a woman in her twenties. I can only hope now to instill this self-confidence and self-esteem in Fiona and to raise Jack to be a feminist.