Red Line Girls

Content Warning: this article tells the story of sexually-based harassment and violence

In the midst of one of the most important senate judiciary committee hearings of the century, a lot of ignorant, repugnantly belligerent screeching has come from the self-anointed Grand Ol’ Party of wholesome, family values.                  

Particularly heinous to my ears as I sat, curled up in my office desk listening to the livestream, was when Senator Lindsey Graham exploded, “I know I’m a single white male from South Carolina, and I’ve been told to shut up, but I will not shut up.”

Another jaw-dropper came when the president’s son, colloquially known as Donny Junior, decided to become a chip off the ol’ block and tweet the following statement, notably with various comma splices:  “I’m no psychology professor but it does seem weird to me that someone could have a selective fear of flying. Can’t do it to testify but for vacation, well it’s not a problem at all.”

Now, I know that I am not a single white male. I am most certainly not a billionaire’s eldest son.

Nor am I planning on becoming a research psychologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, and conducting research in the Department of Psychiatry, and teaching students at the Stanford University School of Medicine Collaborative Clinical Psychology program.

Dr. Ford

Someday, after I graduate DePaul’s 5-year, Dual Degree Secondary Education TEACH program, I will become a high school English teacher.

I don’t know how I am going to teach this difficult history to my students someday, but I will affirm to them that I believed her when I watched the livestream on a Friday morning at my part time job, and that I will always believe her. And that I want my students to believe me, a little teacher lady, when I say that:

One October night, when I was coming home late from what had been one of the best days, I had the scare of a lifetime on an L train. I guess Don Junior could say I now have a “selective fear” of the red line. Earlier that day, I had been a model in College Fashion Week Chicago, presented by Her Campus Media. I had spent hours getting to know other girls from other midwestern universities, learning how to walk in heels, getting my hair curled and pinned and lips glossed by professionals, laughing and chattering away. I think I had been there at the studio venue from 11am until 11pm. I was sleepy and content and on my way home with a friend who was getting off at the same red line stop as I was. It just so happened to be the night of a Chicago Cubs playoff game. Upon searching through the diary I kept sophomore year, it was game two of the Cubs-Dodgers NLCS. The L was filled with fans. One enticingly plump, salt and pepper haired man sat in a chair near where I stood. He asked if I wanted to go on a date with him. I turned to face away from him. With my back to him, he screeched like a stuck pig about what kind of a good-for-nothing bitch I was, and that “when Donald Trump became president he would not let bitches like me get away”. He bombarded me with his obnoxiously sloppy, inconsolable shrieks all the way from North and Clybourn to Fullerton. It was the longest train ride of my life. When other passengers heard me clear my throat and stutter, “Marissa, can you walk home with me”, they advanced upon the drunk to keep him from following us. I sobbed the whole walk home, shaking and gasping because he was going to follow me home.

These vultures I watched and read about on my computer screen while curled up in my desk will never know the numbing panic of a belligerently inebriated man attacking them. Their eyes will never widen at the sloppy drunk struggling to follow them off the train because half a dozen bystanders are blocking his path, they’ll never cry hysterically down the sidewalk near their apartment building, gasping from the panic in their lungs. They won’t feel the burn in their exhausted legs sprinting up flights of stairs to their teeny apartment-dorm because they need to get home now.

They won’t ever feel the explosively suffocating pain Doctor Christine Blasey Ford felt that summer night, nor the numbing pain and anxieties she suffered for decades with, and continues to feel. They won’t ever feel the pain that girls and women and vulnerable humans feel.

Someday, when I am a teacher, I will tell my students that I believed her with all of my heart, and that they should believe all victims of dangerous harassment and assault.