Not On Our Watch, Donald!

| by Katie Morris |

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Hi everyone, I’m Katie Morris and co-founder of SpeakYourStory – a website created because of one simple, but radical belief – every woman has a story that deserves to be heard. We live in a society that too often insists women be silent, be ashamed, and be sidelined. But when we speak up for ourselves, and tell our stories, we fight back. We reject the silencing; we reject the stigmatizing.

And this past month, all over the country, women have been stepping forward to reject Donald Trump’s dismissive defense of his repulsive comments. Women are speaking, shouting their stories – that YES, all women face harassment, and TOO MANY of us are victims of assault and rape.

And make no question – Trump’s language on that tape advocated a point of view that has persisted throughout our world’s history – that women’s bodies are up for grabs, and we are powerless to control them.

After Trump’s tape surfaced, SpeakYourStory received a heart-breaking poem from a survivor of harassment and assault. Her beginning words speak to the fear and pain in all of us – she writes, “I am quite confident I was born with my very own body, but For as far back as I can remember, I was given a certain message with stunning regularity: my body is not my own.”

My body is not my own. How can women be whole, productive and EQUAL citizens of this country when we are regularly fed the message that our bodies are NOT OUR OWN?

This is what I know: the women and men at this rally come from a long line of warrior women and feminists who have been fighting for our bodily autonomy for over a century. Since 1848, when the Women’s Rights Movement officially began, women have fought, been beaten, raped, and imprisoned for demanding their rights. Our foremothers have overcome injustices too numerous to list here. But I will say that, because of them, we no longer live in a country where

  • Married women are legally dead in the eyes of the law;
  • Where women cannot vote;
  • Where husbands can rape their wives with impunity of the law; or
  • Where men can refuse to fill our prescriptions for contraceptives or where abortion isn’t a legal procedure.

We know that there is not one moment in our history when we haven’t been fighting these battles. And because of this, I know women are WARRIORS. We fight, and we fight, and we fight – to be heard, to be respected, to be safe.

And folks, today our fight for bodily autonomy is REAL. We live in a time where every woman lives with the possibility of sexual violence – be it unwanted sexual remarks, sexual touching, or rape itself. And not only that, but our culture accepts these things as THE NORM. We’re supposed to believe that this sexual violence is a FACT OF LIFE. We are supposed to accept that language ADVOCATING SEXUAL ASSAULT is merely “boys will be boys locker room talk.”

Well, no Donald, actually, what that language advocates is a perpetuating of RAPE CULTURE.  Let’s be clear, we have a man trying to be President of the United States while at the same time normalizing sexual violence. This man disrespects our bodies, our ambitions, our very LIVES. He has told us, over and over again that our bodies are NOT OUR OWN.

Well we are here to say NOT ON OUR WATCH DONALD!

For decades, women have taken to the streets, college campuses, legislators’ offices, and social media to remind anyone who will listen that our bodies belong to us, and us alone. We do not intend to stop now. We are not “pussies to be grabbed.” We are fighters and we are united.

I know that Trump’s comments and the accusations against him have put the trauma of so many women on repeat. In fact, the night I heard the tape, I cried myself to sleep. I was heart-broken and soul-tired. My usual strong, determined spirit was no where to be found. I felt less than. I read the words of a man who unflinchingly thought he could take something from me, and I felt broken.

But as night turned into day, I got angry. He wasn’t just bragging – he actually believed he could force himself on women. He was talking about ME. He was talking about my sisters and my niece, about ALL the women I love and respect. He was talking about all of US.

The warrior in me came alive – the spirit of our foremothers lifted me and told me what I had to do. I had to FIGHT. And together we all must rise, with our collective voices to say his words are NOT OKAY, to demand a change in culture, to demand freedom from assault and rape. We’ve always known the fight wouldn’t be easy. It never has been. But we will not be broken. We will not allow another misogynistic, vile creep devastate our spirit. And on November 8th, we will use our VOICE to shut him down once and for all! On November 8th, we will say Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and the rest of the GOP – get your hands the HELL off of me!

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