Change of Subject

I have been extremely pissed off about an article I read more than two weeks ago, and so I'm just going to write it out.

It's this interview with Billy Bush. I can't stand it. I'll start with his "I'm the victim" mentality. He is upset that he wasn't given a chance to apologize on air, on the Today Show, after the story broke. I mean, that he thinks he should (get to keep) a national platform to speak up for himself is just gross. But then it gets worse, because he says he--and "plenty of people" at NBC--knew about the tape for a LONG time. And had watched it three days before someone leaked it. So really, he had a long time to apologize--eleven years, as he later expands--and at least three days of knowing he was in serious need of doing so. But he chose not to. He chose to just hope no one would find out about it. He wants me to feel sorry for him having to explain this crap to his daughters? Yeah, hard pass.

The second big reason is the complete lack of remorse he shows, particularly for the true victim, Nancy O'Dell. He says he reached out to her "recently". So like, not right after the story broke. Certainly not before. It's never stated whether she knew about the tape, but reading interviews with her from the days following the leak, I think she was not one of the "plenty".  So, essentially, our alleged hero Billy Bush not only continued working with her after the incident, but kept her in the dark. I can only imagine how she felt when the tape was leaked.

But the biggest reason is this: Billy Bush says he's spent 7.5 months depressed and full of remorse and, his big huge regret? The thing he would change if he could go back in time?

The subject.

"I wish I had changed the topic," he bemoans. "I didn't have the strength of character to do it."

I'm sorry, but as someone else who has spent the past several months depressed and wishing she could turn back time, what the actual fuck? That's what you'd do?

Just steer the topic away from how fun it is to sexually assault women all the while knowing you can get away with it.

Not stand up to him.

Not shut him down.

Not get off the bus, grab Nancy O'Dell, and say, "I'm so sorry he behaved so horribly to you, and instead of forcing you to hug him, I'm marching you away from him."

Not gone to his boss and said, "We absolutely cannot work with a self-confessed sex offender. In no universe is that ok."

Not asked Nancy O'Dell for her permission to air the damn tape himself, with possible edits for her privacy, because surely a man who is so cavalier about sex crimes has left several other victims in his wake, all of whom have zero power to take action because, well, he's rich and famous.

Nope, not the intrepid Billy Bush. He just went ahead and, in his own words, assumed Trump was "being typical Donald, which is performing and shocking." Because, gentle readers, we live in a world where it is "shocking" to hear someone brag about being able to get away with violence towards women due to fame, but it's not like we're gonna actually believe it, right? I mean, don't you joke about horrific crimes you haven't committed by saying you've totally done it, have no regrets, and will never suffer any consequences?

Look, this is personal for me. (This is, let's be honest, personal for more women than not.) I had a client expose his penis to me at work, grab my wrist, and try to make me touch him. I left the room as quickly as I could, and reported the incident to my (female) manager, who promised me we would drop him immediately. I filled out reams of internal paperwork. And a few weeks later, that very client passed me in the hallway, smiled, and said hello. I literally could not believe it. I actually went and checked the books to see if it was really truly him, despite knowing full well it was. I went to my manager, and she was like..."Didn't anyone tell you? The (male) owner talked to him about it and he said it never happened so...look, I promise you personally will never have to work with him again."

I quit my job, obviously. And I will tell you: I do not for one instant believe that the owner doubted my story. I think he simply didn't care. I was an employee, this guy was a client. I was disposable, this guy...well, he was too, but, you know, he gave the company money. So, you know, whatever.

And here's the thing: seeing the guy in the hall was worse than the actual assault. You know how the standard line is: rape isn't about sex, it's about power? Same with all sexual violence against women. I mean, seeing a penis is really not a big deal. But a man, cornering you alone, showing you his penis when he knows you do not want to see it? It's not the penis: it's him, in a position of power, gleefully forcing you to do something you don't want to do, and trying to make you take it further. And him seeing you in the hall and smiling and saying hi? That's him asserting his dominance again. That's him letting you know that he knows that you tried to stop it and you were powerless. You can leave the room, but you can't escape him. He is mighty, and you are not. No one cares that he hurt you and will take every opportunity to hurt you more.

You do not matter.

That's the thing. This crime, just like grabbing women by the pussy, carries no risk of pregnancy, and little to no risk of STIs. At most, you've got a few bruises. And the message. You've got the message. You don't matter. Not to him, not to your workplace, not to society. Your purpose is to please him, however he desires. Him and others like him. Your body is not your own; it is his to control.

Have a nice day.

I'm trying to hard to raise my sons to believe in their own bodily autonomy and to respect that of others. But it's really difficult to do that in a world like this: one where a self-confessed sex offender becomes President and women are consistently doubted and belittled when they speak out about the sexual violence they have experienced. It's happening right now in Utah, and people are responding in completely predictable ways ("those women should just keep quiet if they ever want a democrat to have any power--this is Utah!" "If it really happened, they would have spoken up sooner" "I mean, have you seen them? No way!" "Women can just accuse people of this and it ruins their lives and the women have noooo proof because it never happened, the women should be prosecuted, fake rape claims are sooo common and just the worst thing in the whole world")

I'm just fucking sad about all of this. About my experience, about it being practically a universal experience, and about things just not changing. Aside from raising a better generation, I have zero ideas on how to change things, and it depresses the hell out of me.