Trump: thank you for the gift of your ridicule
Updated: Jan 21, 2019
“How'd you get home? I don't remember. How'd you get there? I don't remember. Where was the place? I don't remember.
"How many years ago was it? I don't know. I don't know. I don't know! I don't know!”
President Trump, October 2018.
I know that I was 19.
I don’t remember how I got there.
I don’t remember what I was wearing.
I know that, having recently got a job that involved matching complementary therapists with people with HIV/AIDS, I’d been asked to attend a yoga session – something I’d never done before and knew nothing about. It was 1991. Pre-Instagram, and Goop and Sweaty Betty. Yoga was a mystery.
I know the session was at the local leisure centre.
I don’t remember much about the session. At one point the teacher asked me to hold his hand for balance while he walked along someone’s spine. That was note-worthy.
And then there was savasana, the relaxation exercise at the end.
That I remember.
Because I think, during that relaxation, it was the first time in my 19 years I’d truly let my guard down. Which is to say, I was caught off guard. I didn’t know savasana was about relaxation. And, to my horror and bewilderment, I unleashed 19 years’ worth of grief and pain. I lay on that yoga mat and just cried and cried and cried. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I was completely undone. Utterly vulnerable.
I don’t remember people leaving but I know they did.
I don’t remember getting up off the mat.
What I do remember is the yoga teacher putting his arms around me, hugging me. And then rubbing his erection into me as he whispered in my ear, “I’d really love to see you again, but I’ll have to call you. If you call my house my wife might answer.”
I can remember the sensation of stopping – the flow of grief, the release, the freedom of letting go - all stopped. I remember the blankness of detachment that accompanies the recognition of danger. Of needing to be quick, resourceful, dishonest. Assess the situation. Slap on a mask. Smile. Acquiesce. Get the fuck out of there.
You see, this wasn’t the first time I’d been assaulted. I knew the drill.
I don’t remember how I got home.
If I walked or took the bus.
Because really, when your guts have been ripped out and your trust for humanity has been deemed foolish and you’re reminded that the world is dangerous and you need to watch out watch out watch out every goddamn second of every day it really is a fucking irrelevance in the grand scheme of the hippocampus to store a detail as minor as whether I got the fucking bus or wore a track suit.
But I get it, Trump.
I’m guessing no one has ever rubbed their erect penis up against you so, you don’t know what you don’t know. Right?
As it happens, I’m grateful though. I’m really grateful for your ridicule.
Because without it I wouldn’t be writing this.
I’m grateful for your ridicule because it’s motivated me to share my voice with the thousands of women who have shared their experiences, their anger, their pain before me. #MeToo.
I’m grateful for your ridicule because, in that galvanising of voices, the argument can start to change. Because this isn’t a conversation about penises and vaginas, about attraction and desire. Sexual assault is about power.
I’m grateful for your ridicule because if we start framing the argument in the context of power then this gives the next generation of boys and girls – and everyone in between – a greater opportunity to bring about change.
I’m grateful for your ridicule because once we know what argument we’re having we can truly start to furnish ourselves with the right questions and interrogate the source of why people feel the need exercise control over others.
For me, Trump, you are little more than an unpleasant whiff. The smell of fetid humanity made manifest. You’ll pass.
But what a legacy you get to contribute to. Because in the visibility and grandstanding of your misogyny you represent the back stop of all that is repugnant when it comes to women’s rights. People's rights. Human rights. And that gives such a powerful springboard for debate and change.
So I’m grateful. You keep it up. We’ll keep it up too. And together, we can have change we can believe in. Yes we can.