“This, to me, is the ultimately heroic trait of ordinary people; they say no to the tyrant and they calmly take the consequences of this resistance.” — Philip K. Dick
I was raised in a religious cult, founded and led by my grandfather, a man who shared many of Donald Trump’s attitudes, mannerisms, and values, as well as his mercurial temperament. Our community worshipped him. He lied about where he came from, where he went to school, who is was loyal to, the translations of God’s word, fiscal management, and the dangers of the outside world. But none of that mattered to his followers, who didn’t fact-check, who weren’t trained in logic, who wanted a man who could lead. In a predominantly male organization, he bullied women, used his charisma to advocate for a hierarchy of dominance, and taught us to trust in God’s plan.
Where I came from, the closer a man was to my grandfather, the more power he had, and the more access he had to children. Men who loved my grandfather–powerful, godly men–had the freedom to grab me by the pussy. I was seven years old the first time I remember this happening.
The majority of the sex I knew about was unwanted. By men who didn’t offer pleasure or emotional safety. For most of my life, I didn’t know I could feel good, or even that I deserved to. I was a receptacle for a man’s pleasure and need, and for the most part, I was comfortable with that. My grandfather taught me that sex was something a man did to a woman, and if you were married to him, or he had authority, you let him. Sex was something a good woman let a man do to her, because God created us out of man’s rib, to be his helpmate, and it is an honor to serve.
My grandfather still shared a bed with my grandmother until the day he died. I lived with them for a few years in my early teens, and I often watched my grandmother kneel by her bed, sobbing to the Lord, her God. I never asked her why. Where I come from, there is a lot we don’t talk about.
I dedicate my resistance to my grandmother, who never knew she could say no. Who was grabbed by her pussy her whole life, and never knew she deserved better.