I could’ve written about a lot of things this week. There’s never a shortage of news anymore, and whether that’s a good or bad thing I think still remains to be seen. Because while there can be an influx of good news, often the bad comes swiftly after to drown it out. But besides this fact, there was plenty that I could’ve talked about this week that would mirror what’s been talked about before, because news these days is a reiteration of things we’ve heard multiple times over.
This week alone, the continuation of exposures for sexual assault have grown to include Alabama senator Roy Moore, comedian Louis C.K., actor George Takei, and “One Tree Hill” writer Mark Schwahn, and the deaths from gun violence in Texas and Las Vegas are still fresh wounds that we’re trying to heal from. I guess what I want to articulate with this piece is just how unsafe I feel in my own home sometimes. This isn’t even a fear I have especially because I’m a young woman, but is one that is coming from a person living in the United States. Literally every day there is another case of a man we all thought we could trust who is exposed for sexual harassment or assault, and even though I truly commend every survivor and victim who is coming out to topple these men, I can’t help but feel so much bitter anger that this is just happening now, and that movie stars and famous producers can hide so easily in plain sight. It seems as though 2016 was a year when seemingly every celebrity we loved died, where 2017 seems to be the year much loved celebrities have become dead to us.
I really hate that people, and again this is not just women, but people can so easily be taken advantage of by officials in power, no matter the industry. And it only angers me further that we as a country try to boast that we are the best in the world when we elected a man just like that to be our president; it’s a year later and I’m still reeling and raging and seething from it. I don’t feel safe in a country led by a man who has bragged about assaulting women, who confirmed all those jokes that have ever been made about him sneaking his way into the changing rooms of Miss America pageants just because he can. He doesn’t care about people like me, and if he wasn’t president, I wouldn’t care what he thought of me; hell, I wouldn’t care about anything he did. But now I have no choice, because there isn’t a day that goes by where his voice and his face are not on my TV or on my phone or in my mind while frustrating me beyond belief.
This unsafe feeling isn’t just from famous men committing sexual assault though, it’s about these recent mass shooting. I remember being in Orlando mere days after the Pulse massacre and the shooting of Christina Grimmie, being ensconced in the safety of Universal Studios but still feeling the surrounding chaos and sadness that was present the entire time I was there. The fact that today, the horror of Pulse has been surpassed by Las Vegas, and that a shooting as devastating as that occurred again and to an even greater extent just a year after, is indescribably upsetting.
When I was in middle and high school, every year the whole school would attend multiple assemblies about the dangers of bullying, and every other year we’d have a friend of Rachel Scott, one the victims of Columbine, come tell us her story. Hearing that story as a young kid, of Rachel as a positive and wonderful person, and also hearing how she was shot down without a second thought — I thought Columbine was the most horrific thing I’d ever heard of. At that point I wasn’t thinking about solutions, about gun control legislation or the kind of people who carry out these kinds of atrocities. But growing up after that — after seeing instances of mass shooting and the lives of people and children that could have been saved with more background checks and fewer guns out in the world — sometimes it’s hard to imagine my country as a safe place.
We didn’t draw the line when our own president John F. Kennedy, his brother Bobby and Martin Luther King, Jr. were gunned down in the span of five years. Columbine, Virginia Tech, Newtown, Orlando, Las Vegas, the Charleston and now Sutherland Springs church shootings all took place in my lifetime; so many have been shot down within my 20 years of life. At this point I fear the line will never be drawn, and that we will always value our killing machines over people with futures and lives ahead of them.
My perspective this week is much doom and gloom, and at this point it would be nice if I could offer a point of positivity, a silver lining through all this. And maybe there is; recent state elections were won by Democratic candidates pushing for gun control measures, specifically along with openly transgender candidates like Danica Roem and Andrea Jenkins, who will hopefully bring fresh perspectives to their positions. However, I think that that is the only thing we as a nation can do to make things better: we can vote. I want to believe that I live in the greatest nation on earth, but until we start stepping up and proving it with our actions and our votes, I’ll be stuck telling myself a lie that I know is not true.