I was at the gym earlier and the Penn State game was on the tv in front of me. All week, I've been feeling sick and anxious. I told myself yesterday that I wasn't going to read anything that would make me sick to my stomach. I told myself today that I didn't want to hear or think about it, anymore.
But, I can't help it.
Especially as mothers, we're all reeling. We're advising one another to talk to our children about touch. We're going over every facet of our lives, checking the ropes and pushing against the retaining walls for any hint of a crack. We're making sure that our children are safe.
This is so totally right on. It's exactly what we should be doing. But, you know what? As mothers, we should also be talking to the rest of the world. We should be pushing up against the walls of language and secrecy that is built up around child terrorization and annihilation.
We should be saying things like, Do you know what happened here? Sandusky ripped people open. He made them scream and bleed and feel so afraid that they might never some back into the world of people, how we walk around assuming that things are basically okay. He forced them open and raped them. He murdered who they would have become. He committed violent, aggressive, ugly fucking crimes. He changed them forever. He left children amputated, left their dignity hanging to their memories in tattered, messy shreds. He destroyed and raped people. He turned their lives into things so full of dread and horror that we couldn't imagine it. He punished them, assaulted them, left their lives in shards.
Why don't we say it like that?
I tend to think along the same lines of Clare Potter who wrote this piece about how we mistook these crimes as an offense against women. Potter said, "Since most people don’t believe that ten year olds want to be anally penetrated by grown men, once there is credible evidence that the sex happened, people tend not to spin alternative scenarios about little boys like: ”look what he was wearing;” “he’s probably just mad that Coach Sandusky wouldn’t hook up with him;” “he was drunk;” or “it was just bad sex and he’s trying to get back at Coach.”
Since we can't make those claims about little boys and say, "Well, he shouldn't have been alone in a shower room with a grown man in the dark in the first place," instead, we suppress the horror of the truth; we pretend that we're respecting the victims by not really telling the truth. We try to protect their purity in our minds by using words like molesting. We do what Joe Paterno did and we say, "He was fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy."
Guess what? Sandusky destroyed those children. He violently and aggressively sodomized, assaulted and terrorized them. They don't need to be protected from the truth. They are living the truth. We are the ones who can't stomach it. By refusing to acknowledge these unspeakably disgusting abominations for what they are, we are only seeking to protect ourselves and in turn, we're protecting the sick institution that allows these kinds of things to happen, to go unreported and to carry on for decades.
Men fondle the gear shift of a new car. They fondle the handle of a golf club or the remote control. What happened to those little boys at PSU was rape. Rape is a thing that is foul and hideous and it destroys people.
Those little boys will grow and learn about the world and they will have a chance at healing, as much as a person can. I hope they will be able to love themselves, someday. To feel safe and precious and human.
I am so lucky that I can turn off the news. I can choose not to click on a link about PSU. I can accompany my little family to soccer practice and hold a travel mug of hot chocolate between my palms, and we're all whole and sound. Nobody has violently attacked us. Nobody has ripped us open, humiliated and gutted us. I have the luxury of getting sick of hearing about it. I can tell people, "I don't feel like talking about it, anymore."
We should be talking about it and telling the truth. We should be sick over it. We should feel like we can't bear to read or listen to another word about it, because it's vile and vile things are supposed to make us sick. The one thing it is SO important not to do is to let it go by as another sex scandal, another dirty little secret that doesn't have anything to do with us. Especially as mothers, we can't pretend this doesn't have anything to do with us.
I wasn't even going to write this post. And then, after I did write it, I thought about just erasing it and moving on. I've read a lot of smart, compassionate and heartfelt articles about this topic over the past week. I didn't want to say more of what has already been said. I thought about it, though, and maybe you weren't reading the same things I've been reading. I wanted to be a voice. Especially as a mother, I wanted to try to tell the truth.