Eleven years ago, Donald Trump described to Billy Bush how when you’re famous like him, you can just “grab [women] by the pussy.” In the past few days, he’s dismissed the audio recording of this discussion and any outrage surrounding it as “locker room talk.” And he’s sorry you’re so offended.
For most decent human beings, it wasn’t just locker room talk. And for so so many of us, it was a reminder. A spark lighting up a lifetime of memories. Experiences we wish we couldn’t remember, that we stuff down into the overfilled suitcase of our minds and try desperately to keep inside.
Amber Tamblyn is one of the women who brought hers to the surface and shared it with all of us.
I need to tell you a story. With the love and support of my husband, I’ve decided to share it publicly.
A very long time ago I ended a long emotionally and physically abusive relationship with a man I had been with for some time. One night I was at a show with a couple girlfriends in Hollywood, listening to a DJ we all loved. I knew there was a chance my ex could show up, but I felt protected with my girls around me. Without going into all the of the details, I will tell you that my ex did show up, and came up to me in the crowd. He’s a big guy, taller than me. The minute he saw me, he picked me up with one hand by my hair and with his other hand, he grabbed me under my skirt by my vagina— my pussy?— and lifted me up off the floor, literally, and carried me, like something he owned, like a piece of trash, out of the club. His fingers were practically inside of me, his other hand wrapped tightly around my hair. I screamed and kicked and cried. He carried me this way, suspended by his hands, all the way across the room, pushing past people until he got to the front door. My friends ran after him, trying to stop him. We got to the front door and I thank God his brothers were also there and intervened. In the scuffle he grabbed at my clothes, trying to hold onto me, screaming at me, and inadvertently ripped off my grandmother’s necklace, which I was wearing. The rest of this night is a blur I do not remember. How I got out to the car. How I got away from him that night. I never returned for my necklace either.
That part of my body, which the current Presidential Nominee of the United States Donald Trump recently described as something he’d like to grab a woman by, was bruised from my ex-boyfriend’s violence for at least the next week. I had a hard time wearing jeans. I couldn’t sleep without a pillow between my legs to create space.
To this day I remember that moment. I remember the shame. I am afraid my mom will read this post. I’m even more afraid that my father could ever know this story. That it would break his heart. I couldn’t take that. But you understand, don’t you? I needed to tell a story. Enjoy the debates tonight.
Women on social media have been sharing their stories since the tapes were leaked. Stories that could be just as easily written off by Trump and far too many other men (and women) as nothing. As women being oversensitive. As boys being boys.
And the thing is, we all felt that way too. Our whole lives. That’s what we tried to tell ourselves. That that’s just how men are. That we were being oversensitive. That it’s probably our fault. That it’s definitely our fault.
The first time someone decided to “grab [me] by the pussy,” I was 12 years old. We were in music class. This boy, Casey, laid his hand palm up on my chair. When I sat down, not seeing this, he wiggled his fingers. The other boys laughed. I screamed. He shouted at me, mad at my reaction, mad I was getting him in trouble. The teacher did nothing. I was embarrassed. I cried. I remember the kids staring at me. It felt like everyone thought I was being stupid for being upset. So I tried not to be upset. In college, my roommate’s friend laid down next to me and began rubbing up on me. And I remember not moving. Just…allowing it. I don’t know why. I just laid there and pretended I was asleep. In the same year, I passed out in the bedroom of the guy I had a huge crush on. I woke up to him on top of me, saying “hold on, let me get the handcuffs.” I don’t remember anything else. But I didn’t do anything then either.
I deserved it. I asked for it. It was definitely my fault. Because that’s just how men are.
Now tell that to this young woman. To all the young women, and adult women, and nonbinary people and everyone else. Tell us this is just how things are.