I’m humbled. I learned a valuable lesson, and it was thanks to the compassion of a rape victim who just so happens to also be a liberal. But what difference does it make? It doesn’t. Maybe, just maybe – the media is missing something here. Sure, there’s a lot of hate – rhetoric and disagreements, but guess what else there is?
Reality. What’s happening beyond the Facebook threads where people are spewing their vitriol?
Conversations. Conversations you don’t see, or hear about.
I, like you so many of you – was fueled by passion after watching the Women’s March on Washington and the sister marches across the country, and even worldwide. Our digital publication covered different angles – giving voice to democrats and conservatives, and everything in between.
Our small staff does its best to respond to everyone and we do our best to understand where you’re coming from. We pride ourselves on having a diverse staff of freelance writers, women from different walks of life – backgrounds, ethnicities and political leanings.
The diversity of voices is only growing.
My Judd article generated thousands of hits (cool) but I didn’t revel in it for long – while so many of you appreciated my commentary, and thanked me – the thread on our page exploded. As much as I tried to moderate it – I had to let it go…spinning out of control, I could feel the negativity swell throughout my body.
Besides, I had to get back to work. It was like being sucked into a vortex, and I couldn’t climb my way out. Anyone else feel me?
I don’t take the publish button on the back end of this website lightly. I’ll spend days stewing over a topic, hours writing it – the back and forth editing is incessant. I then spend just as many hours wondering if I should flip the switch.
And with the click of a button, my words are plastered all over the Internet.
“Words count”, she said to me in a private Facebook message.
I’m referring to her as ‘she’ out of respect for her anonymity. It was a message I received in regards to a comment I left on our thread, in response to a comment about President Donald Trump’s infamous leaked tape. I was debating the media coverage, and had more questions – like so many of you do.
Judging from the hundreds of comments we’ve received, it’s clear many of you want to move on. It’s not to recklessly disregard or abandon the impact or consequences of what was said – everyone has their different reasons why, but the reality is – some of us have not moved on, and never will – and that’s because she’s right.
Words Matter. Words matter to people who have lived through things we haven’t.
The young woman who shared her story of being a rape victim said to me in a private message, “As someone who was the subject of locker room talk, I can promise you – words count.”
And then she shared her story, “I was raped by a boyfriend in high school. It wasn’t the violent rape you see depicted on TV and in movies.”
The details of her traumatic attack were much longer – and heart wrenching, but I’ve shortened the story to protect her privacy.
I stared at the screen…
This young woman didn’t have the strength to share her voice at the time that she was raped. It went unreported, and it wasn’t until the Women’s March that she mustered up the courage to finally tell her Father – a Trump supporter – what had happened to her so many years ago.
I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach – ugh. I hate that something I said just made someone re-live a terrible part of their past.
Should I delete my Ashley Judd post? No. (because the truth is, I still stand by my feelings about her tirade)
Should I just pretend it never happened? No.
So many what if scenarios began brewing – unreasonable thoughts and solutions raced through my mind instantaneously.
Really. Yes, really.
But almost just as instantly I decided: I’ll just own up to it, and explain – in truth, that it was never my intention to be aloof or dismissing.
When you own up to unintended mistakes, beautiful things happen. When you listen – when you have real conversations, you forget the labels because they don’t matter anymore.
Only her story matters.
When we relate to each other through stories and experiences instead of identifying each other by labels – democrat, moderate, libertarian, republican – real conversations happen.
She and I must have gone back and forth in private Facebook messenger for a few days – getting to know each other.
After a sincere apology – she told me, “We get much farther through conversations, if even only virtual.”
And then she closed out by saying, “Thanks again for responding. You are doing an amazing job. We need more women like you.”
And we need more women like HER.