Shouts and Zip Ties


Emma Sullivan, Editor-In-Chief

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Like any frantic senior on a long weekend, I tried to fit in as many college visits as possible on the glorious October long weekend off from school. My travels led me to DC, and my trip turned from one marked by awkward college tours to one of thought and protest.

This Saturday at 3:40-ish, I stood in a throng of people and signs beneath the overcast skies and the steps of the judiciary court in DC. We shall overcome echoed on the speakers as some women buried their faces in their hands and some shouted and some stood resolute. We had just gotten word that Judge Kavanaugh had been appointed to the Supreme Court.  

Never having been to a protest before, I was struck by the emotion that surrounded me. Like penned animals, supporters of both sides hung over the metal gates holding them away from the line of stoic police officers and the steps of the capitol. I overheard a woman, #IbelieveKavanaugh pinned to her chest, snicker when she told her friend about the women crying when the vote was finalized. I heard older woman, looking not unlike my grandmother, engage her, shouting that she knew Kavanaugh and knew Ford’s story was true. Harsh words and raised voices ensued. Women and men, hands zip tied behind their backs, lined the front of the capitol. Women hoisted on friends’ shoulders yelled “Come out cowards” while flipping off the steps. Rage and sadness and joy and indignation and hopelessness—everyone behind the capitol steps was buzzing with emotion. Chants broke the muggy air and nuance was lost to rage. When the senators walked down the steps, an indistinguishable force of old white men in suits, I heard women and men yelling “f**k you” until their veins popped, only a stoic row of police officers and low barricade separating them. “Wait until November,” they said.

In the comfort of our school and our communities in Massachusetts, it is easy to dismiss the pain of sexual assault and the anger in Washington, but that denial is detrimental. Sexual assault is an issue in every corner of America— one that we slip under the rug with a host of other painful subjects that taint American exceptionalism. Only now women (and men, too, for that matter) are beginning to share their stories, fighting through awkwardness and dismissal, not wanting to offend the men and women close to them but wanting recognition of their distress.

That is why every corner of America, even our small community in Worcester, needs to wake up. This is not some gender war as we all have brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. There is no doubt this will be difficult, but we are all out of middle school now and it’s okay to say “sex.” At Bancroft we are lucky to have good sex education, reviewing and defining important concepts like consent and respect. But in the halls, in the classroom, at home, sex can still feel like taboo. For many the boundaries between what is consent and what is disrespect and what is assault can feel undefined.

When I am running around Worcester in spandex for Cross Country and pot bellied men my father’s age hoot and whistle, is it worth it to share how I get this sick feeling in my stomach when it happens? Will my words be dismissed? I do not share this example so I will not be allowed to run where I please. I share it as an example of objectification and disrespect. Since when has our society allowed someone to objectify someone else? As we grow up, our world gets more complicated as alcohol and jobs and drugs and politics and sex are thrown into the mix. When we stop addressing topics like sex and respect, society can no longer hold offenders in check. All those women (and men) in DC who feel like their voice is just beginning to be heard, Dr. Ford, politics aside, the women pay the ultimate price of sexual assault, the children and young adults in our own community and those to come. We owe it to them to listen and talk and at least begin to clean up the mess we’ve made by ignoring consent, respect and sexual assault.