TW: Sexual Assault, Mental Health, 2018
Let’s take a look at today, shall we?
According to an estimate from the US Census Bureau, there were approximately 325,719,178 people in the US as of July 2017. Let’s keep the numbers conservative (irony noted) and assume that number has stayed constant.
About 50.8% of those people are female. That’s 165,465,342 females and 160,253,836 males in the US.
The CDC is listing that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men report “some form of contact sexual violence.” That means 55,155,114 women and 26,708,973 men currently alive in the US have experienced physical sexual violence.
This number does not include people who have been verbally harassed or stalked.
The CDC also reports that 52% of those women and 17% of those men showed symptoms of PTSD. That is 26,680,659 women and 4,540,525 men with some level of PTSD from sexual violence.
That is 31,221,184 people walking the streets today with a strong chance of having their symptoms triggered by the narratives we construct around Kavanaugh’s accusers and confirmation hearing.
That is 9.58% of the country.
That is 9-10 of every 100 people you know who are likely in a stage of fight or flight today. That is 1 in every 10ish people you know who feel less safe every day this week.
Have you noticed a friend or colleague having a shorter temper? Withdrawing? Behaving erratically? Having changing or muted emotions?
Have you noticed the same in yourself?
Be gentle. Have empathy. Maybe realize that everything you say, do, and post sends a message and that message will be received.
Are you proving yourself to be a friend? Someone who can be trusted? Someone they can talk with?
Or are you sending the clear message that you aren’t a safe person for a victim to count as a friend? Someone who will doubt them? Someone who is already judging them in the abstract?
We can’t choose to reduce the number of victims of sexual violence overnight, but we can choose how we tell their stories...how we talk about sexual violence...how we prioritize the people or the politics.
If a Supreme Court nominee or any other human accused causes you to react in a way that causes further harm to 10% of your “friends,” you are not a very good friend. In fact, you are a pretty terrible human.
Who can you choose to be today? You can choose to be the one who remains silent instead of repeating your prioritization of your opinion over their humanity. You can be the person who offers to watch a cheesy Netflix comedy with a withdrawn friend tonight. You can be the person who listens without responding.
You can choose the people. The people around you. The 1 in 10 of your friends...coworkers...relatives...selves who are in a real place of need today.
You see, the 9.58% are not people in the abstract. They are reality. They are us. And you do know them. You do.
And, through this challenging week, they are getting to know you.
U.S. Census Bureau quickfacts: United States. (2017). Retrieved September 27, 2018, from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045217
Violence prevention. (2018, September 19). Retrieved September 27, 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nisvs/materials.html
I fought with myself a bit over the header image for this page.
On one hand, what better (free) image to welcome folks to the political page?
On the other hand, those folks may be turned off because they assume the wrong things about me because I used the flag.
That? That is a problem.
The symbols of our country are just that. They are symbols. They are not the thing itself. The flag is not the country. The Anthem is not a veteran. The man is not the Presidency.
It is, ultimately, the thing that matters. Or, rather, it should be. I wonder if that is true for those who still support the man in the Oval. It seems that we have a Congressional majority that values power far more than leadership. They seek to retain the title rather than serve the office. The symbol seems sought far more than the thing.
In the streets, the flag is used as an excuse to restrict free speech. The veteran is a rhetorical device trotted out when needing to make a point. The Anthem is a celebration of what was rather than a hope of what could be. The symbols of the country take precedent over the precepts and the people.
Superficial nationalism will never be stronger than actual patriotism, rooted in the righteous belief of equality. At the same time, that nationalism has caused many folks to pause their overt patriotism because the line between patriotic display and hollow symbol worship is too, too fine.
So I post a header with a flag because the symbol is not the thing, but it reminds me of the potential of the thing. The potential of a country that has failed in millions of ways and still finds itself home to millions of people who continue to strive and fight and sacrifice.
There are millions of acts of subversive patriotism taking place every day, and it is those acts that will renew that potential and make for a future country worthy of the fight . . . and of the flag.