I feel like Aria Stark as I list the names of every man who has crossed me every morning, and every morning a new name is added to the list. Up until the last few months I have thought myself lucky to be in the company of men like Al Franken and Aziz Ansari, and very sincerely looked up to them. I proclaimed in a Uber less than six months ago I believed Aziz to be the man I would one day marry. The next time I heard the words Aziz and Uber together is when I was googling “Aziz Ansari and sexual assault”, into my search bar this morning. This girl, who is the same age as me, came forward with her story, likely in the wake of him winning his Golden Globe and donning a “Times Up” pin. I am so grateful that she did
I, like many of my constituents in Womynland, were brought up to be modest and kind, and not to speak too loudly about our sexual encounters, but I am mad. I’m mad that a million different things, but mostly I’m mad at myself for believing that I should be treated as less than for so many years. “Grace”‘s story is one that I have lived, that so many of us have lived, the only difference is that I wasn’t assaulted by Aziz Ansari. It was done by friends, strangers, acquaintances. The repercussions met in cafés and lunch tables, begging myself to laugh at the previous night’s encounter, just like my friends were. I would repeat mantras to myself that what was happening was ok. I would let it happen again. I can’t write in to The Atlantic and put X Y and Z from years ago on blast. No one would pick up this story.
Not being in the public eye makes it scary to admit that we have been victims of the oppression perpetuated by a male dominated society. It becomes easier to sit with our silences than run the risk of ruining the friendships that we hold so dearly. By admitting that I have been sexually assaulted in the same way as “Grace” I am not gaining any press or a date to the Golden Globes, I am merely defining myself to society as broken. I am running the risk of friends and family seeing me differently. I am admitting to myself that my life has become more difficult because men do not see me as their equal, rather an entity to be dominated.
Just because our assaulters have not won a Golden Globe does not mean we are not entitled to the same audacity that “Grace” showed us by publishing her story. I hope I win a Golden Globe long before any man who has touched me against my will, and then I can tell my own story. We can tell our own stories now, when we are ready. We have a right to have ownership of our own stories, and our own bodies. Time is indeed up, but not just for the Hollywood Elite, it’s for all of us. The witch hunt extends to every corner of the world, and ESPECIALLY in the Oval Office, and wherever Woody Allen lives.
Maybe one day I’ll run into the men who have hurt me, and like Aria and Sansa taking down Littlefinger, I too will have justice. It will be in a café or over a lunch table, and I won’t have to laugh. I will be able to say how they hurt me, and made me feel unsafe. Our time for justice will come, but for now, we just have to keep on being strong.