“Why didn’t she say something?” That’s what a reader asked me back in 2013, angered that Wendy suffered in silence after an assault. My YA novel, How Wendy Redbird Dancing Survived the Dark Ages of Nought, grapples with a survivor’s dilemma: speak up and risk not being believed—or worse, being destroyed by the perp and the public.
And listen to the same chorus ringing out today.
When a woman speaks out shouldn’t be the point, but watch it become the subject. Trust that Wendy’s silence is complicated, as is her eventual speaking out.
The simple truth is what Jessica Goldstein said so well recently in McSweeney’s: “As young girls, we feel like maybe now is a good time to just throw something out there. See if it sticks. A PSA to all grown men on the face of the Earth: We do not want to have sex with you.”
Let’s try this again: Why didn’t she say something?
Because what happened is too horrible to put into words.
Because reliving it might make you faint or vomit. Or kill yourself.
Because he’s older.
Because Mom is overwhelmed by her life and always upset about something.
Because he’s Mom’s boyfriend.
Because he knows a ton of people in this town.
Because you won’t be believed.
Because everyone will talk about you.
Because now you’ll be That Girl.
Because everyone else is living a simpler, happier life and your trauma will interrupt theirs.
Because you’ll be asked why–about the outfit, about the time, about the situation. About the relationship.
Because you must have done something to encourage him.
Because smart girls should know better.
Because the candy store at the mall uses girl bodies to sell sugar.
Because someone near you just made a joke about sluts.
Because you’re busy looking over your shoulder in the parking lot.
Because close to 50% of Alabama electorate just voted for a pedophile.
Two Girls + A Car, the Passing of a Pop Icon, and a Devil to Dodge…and L.A. Bound….
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“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 13: 13
Before you question this narcissistic start to a Father’s Day post, bear with me. I believe there are two types of people: those who are successful with the help of their dads, and those who have achieved in spite of their dads. I am blessed to say I’m successful thanks to my father.
A male role model must be many things: forthright and honest, loyal and dependable, driven and persistent, and vigilant and protective. It’s a bonus if he is fun, kind, and excited about life. I got the complete Dad package.
During a self-publishing journey, you need a lot of support. You need a cheerleader with faith and business sense. My dad has been at my side throughout this process, suggesting new ideas and sending me the latest updates from bloggers and industry experts, doing research, building Excel spreadsheets, and asking sales and marketing questions. He has my back in an enterprise that has no clear or “right” trajectory. There are some parents who might say, “Are you really sure you want to do this? Isn’t it a lot of work? Why don’t you wait it out another few years (never mind the three spent querying the industry and working with an agent) because the traditional path seems like a safer bet.” Instead, my dad captures all the confusing Excel data from Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Smashword and brainstorms how a developer needs to create an app to automate such a process. He compliments my writing efforts and sings my praises to friends and family. He loves to see me shine, and with that special Dad pride, he can make me look even brighter.
My father’s actions relay to me that no matter what I attempt, I can do it. A daughter needs that kind of optimism if she is to undertake an artist’s life.
My dad modeled risk-taking to me since my childhood. We moved from Southern California to Northern, to Belgium, back to Northern California to North Carolina as he pursued various opportunities with his work. I learned that new places hold possibility, that people of other states and countries have fascinating histories, and that there are good people and new friends everywhere. I learned that over time, one can adapt to new situations and discover new sides to oneself. My dad thrives on meeting new people, making new friends, and trying new foods. He handed down to me that same zest for experimentation and newness.
In the ed world, one will often here the phrase “lifelong learner” as a descriptor for a teacher’s ideal persona. Ever curious, open, and excited, this kind of teacher inspires his or her students to embark on the learning journey. That phrase fits my father perfectly. This is what he’s taught me: to treat each day as a new opportunity and an ambitious adventure.
My dad is a man of many gifts. He knows people the world over who are grateful for his leadership, mentorship, and business savvy. With all these talents he’s always been extremely humble and does not call attention to himself. He is the kind of worker right in the trenches with everyone else. It wasn’t until I was out of college that I began to appreciate all he had done and was pursuing. And he still thinks my little business enterprise is worth his time and attention.
Love is reliable and shows up every day, just like a good dad. It is consistent, persistent, and trustworthy. A great father’s love is full of faith and hope. I will be forever grateful for my wonderful father who has shaped me, my view of myself, and my happiness.