It’s the entire attitude toward rape that has to be done away with, not just the politician. As long as the survivors of rape are scared to come forward because they fear they won’t be believed, or be told their rape wasn’t real or bad enough, or because they are scared of a legal system that is cold and unempathetic, we will never do right by the survivors of rape.
We all go bumbling through life, meeting and forgetting people without much thought to it. You meet someone, you become friends or you don’t, you stick with them a long time or you never see them again. Certainly many of those chance encounters never amount to much. But we’re connected in ways great and small to everyone we meet – and probably everyone we never see as well. And every once in a while, you get a chance to make a difference to someone. If you’re lucky, you get to know when this happens. I was lucky.
It’s now 22 years later and women’s bodies are still being used as political bargaining chips, facts of the matter be damned. And now it’s not just abortion that has them in a lather. It’s women’s health itself. And that makes me a bit twitchy, because birth control might be all that stands between me and a pretty serious operation.
In the half year I was out of work, I had interviews with four different potential employers. I know for a fact that three of those interviews came about specifically because of my volunteer work.
I never want to forget what it is like to be poor and afraid. I don’t want to forget the desperation I felt. I don’t want to forget that there are millions of people in this state who still need that card to stay fed and housed.
Six months ago, almost to the day, I was ushered into a cramped office and told that my career had just come to a screeching halt. Three of us sat in that small and cluttered space, and two sets of eyes fixed on me, waiting for me to say something. Yesterday, I was brought into another office. Its ceiling, 20 feet above me, was decorated with a mural, underscored by a line of intricate wood moldings that encircled the office. And again, two sets of eyes were on me, wondering what I would say.
Back in 2000, when I hired in as a reporter at the Grand Rapids Press, a big to-do was made of the company’s job security policy. A job here is a job for life, I was told. The hell it is, I thought to myself.
Other people might experience this as a bad day, and surely it is one. But for me, it’s more than that. It’s a reminder that the demon inside me named depression is lurking just beneath the skin and looking for the slightest scratch to the surface that will let it escape.
Immediately, even before I heard the words “we’ve eliminated your position,” I became aware of a tsunami of emotions that quickly swamped me. I noted them like children might call out the different kinds of cars going by their house: There goes anger, there goes grief. Wow, there’s a lot of fear out here today. Has anyone seen denial yet? It was nearly amusing.
inevitably, the editor sitting across the desk would ask, “What made you want to be a journalist?” If I would have been honest – and I’m not that stupid – I would have answered, “Because no one hires a creative writer.”