I Know Fear but Not Your Fear…

I opened Facebook, glanced around, and realized quickly I don’t have the energy to be there right now. I. Just. Don’t.

I closed the tab.

I haven’t been silent though. I’ve called my state representatives, even though I hate cold-calling people. I have to write up scripts in advance to get through such phone calls, and even then, my voice shakes. I’ve attended vigils and protests, even though I get panicky in crowds (and I think the abandoned baby stroller could possibly be hiding a bomb).

I recognize I am a person of privilege. As a cis-het white woman, I understand being discriminated against because of gender, but not because of the color of my skin, my religion, or my sexuality. I’ve had men suggest I wasn’t capable of doing my job because I didn’t have a Y chromosome, men who tried to talk me out of buying a stick shift because I didn’t want to be ‘thinking while I was driving’, and bosses who justified paying me less because I wasn’t the breadwinner of the family–despite the fact I am single and the sole representative of my household.

But no one has described me as an ape or suggested I wasn’t even human.

I’ve had inappropriate advances made on me by people in positions of authority over me. A tutor frightened me so badly I dropped the class. By the time the professor made a sexual advance on me, I’d perfected the art of inflicting pain and making it look accidental. I’ve also had a stalker–I know what it is like to be afraid for my safety–but that was one person. Yes, I am frightened by crowds. Yes, I am uncomfortable walking anywhere alone after dark–I don’t know many women who aren’t. But I don’t know what it is like to have people assume I’m a slut because of the color of my skin, or want to kill me because of who I’m sleeping with. I don’t have a whole class of people looking down on me as I walk along the street, with a single glance assessing my worth as a human being and assigning me to a category of ‘them, not us.’

I can sympathize with those who experience this sort of thing every day. I can tell myself I get it, but I really don’t. What I’ve gone through in my life isn’t even close. It’s like having arachnophobia and coming across a Daddy Longlegs in your house, imagining it’s a Black Widow. It might feel like I know what others are going through, but I don’t. Not really.

I don’t know what the average POC goes through on a daily basis. I don’t know what it is like to be a Muslim or Jew, or a member of the GLBTQ community, or anything other than what I am: a middle-aged white woman. I don’t know what it is like to watch my teenaged boy get into a car with friends and worry that he will be shot simply for being a black male. Or fear I will be attacked because I don’t look a certain way. On a given day, I might get eyestrain from rolling my eyes so hard at someone’s condescension toward me, but that’s usually the worst thing that happens.

I might be treated like ‘the little woman’ but I’m not treated as though I don’t have the right to live.

It’s not the same.

I am a person of privilege.

And as such, I don’t have the luxury of keeping my mouth shut right now. As long as things were inching their way toward better, it was easy for me to be a supporter.

It’s not so easy anymore. It’s downright scary. And the sad thing is, for the first time, I’m getting the tiniest inkling of what it’s always been like for the people I claim to support. Yeah, I could get hurt. Even killed. Something my friends live with all the time.

Things are coming to a crisis in this country. It’s not a matter of right versus left anymore. It’s a matter of right versus wrong. I can stand here and say I voted for Hillary and I believe in universal health care and a minimum wage that lets people afford a place to live. I can say I support marriage equality and sensible gun control and abortion rights and affordable birth control. I can rant about our current government and the death of democracy, voter suppression, gerrymandering, the Russian interference into our elections and the most corrupt administration the US has ever seen, but it’s not enough to believe these things. I have to voice them. Loudly.

I believe that standing up for what is right, saying no to the neo-Nazis, the KKK, and the consumption of the US by Russia is so important, I have to make my voice heard. It doesn’t matter if I’m scared. It doesn’t matter if I might lose readers. Hell, that’s the least of my worries. Frankly, if you don’t feel as I do on these matters, not only will you probably not enjoy my stories, I’d rather you not read them anyway.

Yeah, I know. I’m nobody. A no-name author in a niche genre. I’m sure there are people out there who’d rather I go back to chatting about the upcoming release or sharing pictures of my animals. Believe me, I long for the days when the most distressing thing I had to deal with was book edits and some silly brouhaha on Facebook. I feel as though I’ve been under siege for the last year or so.

So imagine what it’s like to have felt that way every day of your life?

I can’t.

I’m not a brave person, but this is too important. And I won’t shut up.



12 thoughts on “I Know Fear but Not Your Fear…

  1. I love this post so much. You’ve articulated the fears and… yes, the embarrassment that I feel, another cis-het white middleaged and very privileged person. Being outside the US, I can’t ring senators and congressmen but spreading the word, urging people to stand firm. I can try to do that. And do more of it.

    • Thank you. I truly have a thing about crowds–it’s taken me years to feel somewhat okay at something the size of a block party, so going to rallies and protests is really outside my comfort zone.

      We need to accept being uncomfortable. We need to refuse to be polite or tolerant toward intolerant people. They will eat us all alive otherwise.

      The very fact that most of these neo-Nazis are seriously armed to the teeth is also very frightening–as well as their willingness to maim and kill.

      What kind of person would I be if I stayed silent? Not someone I could live with.
      Sarah Madison recently posted..I Know Fear but Not Your Fear…My Profile

  2. Your blog posts are always worth reading, and this is one of your best.

    Just this morning, I was telling a white male friend that he has no idea what POC, women, or LGBT people go through every damn day in this country, and he never will. If you don’t live it, you can’t possibly feel it.

    • Aw, thank you, Theo. That means a lot to me.

      I can nod along with what you’ve said here but when all is said and done, I’m only one notch down in understanding from that guy. I came along at a time when women had a greater degree of freedom and choice than ever before. I just had no idea things were any different than outside my experience and I was fortunate to have a mother who encouraged us to be whatever we wanted to be (and to read–whatever else her failings, she gave us two great gifts there).

      Now it’s being driven home to me just how lucky I was. I’ve been saying for a while now that civil liberties aren’t something fought for and won a single time but something we must protect every day or someone will take them away from us. I’m sorry to say all my worst fears about this administration are coming true.

      I don’t see this getting better any time soon. In fact, I see it getting far, far worse. I thought I was doing my part all along, but in the future, I believe more than we’ve ever feared will be asked of all of us.
      Sarah Madison recently posted..I Know Fear but Not Your Fear…My Profile

  3. I think you have spoken for all of us who love and support civil and equal rights, especially white women of a certain age. Thank you.

  4. I’m glad you’re back to posting on your blog! You’re a very brave and eloquent woman and it’s always a pleasure to read your posts as I agree heartily with the subject (also with the one about being broke šŸ™‚ ) but could never formulate it as well. And it’s the fact that you write what’s on your mind and not just promo and “happy” things that makes me appreciate your blog that much more! I missed you these past months!!!

    I’m from Europe, so I’m watching things from a somewhat safe distance but even from here it looks scary. This is no longer the country we Europeans associate with “the land of the free” or our most important partner in the world. It’s frightening to see how things turned around in less than a year. People around here love Obama and your previous administration!

    Best regards,

    • Aw, thank you. It’s very nice to hear you say that. I enjoy blogging, and I think we all have a stake in what’s coming down the pike right now. More and more often, I’m hearing people say, “Hey, we don’t follow you for the politics” but I don’t think this is something we can sit out on. And frankly, those people saying ‘we don’t want politics’ are really saying, ‘don’t make us feel bad for not believing as you do and above all us, don’t ask to think about why that is…’

      I loved President Obama and knew just how much opposition and obstructionism he battled to get anything done, which is why it is a miracle to me that he turned things around as much as he did from the LAST time the GOP ran the economy bus off the cliff. But he wasn’t revered here in my home town. People would curl their lip and blame him for everything, ignoring what was in their best interests to listen to FOX News and vote against social issues that had no direct bearing on their own lives–like someone demanding a world-wide ban on doughnuts because THEY were on a diet.

      The GOP has been heading in this direction for the last twenty years or so. Now they are in so deep with Trump they have to support him–but it’s a lot like telling kids they have to stay in the car with the drunk driver at the wheel because he’s the only grownup. I don’t see any way out of this that doesn’t result in widespread violence and bloodshed. No matter how Trump leaves office–in cuffs or in resignation, he’s primed an armed and dangerous far right to act on his behalf and in his name. And that’s only here on the home front. This president is such a classic narcissist, I envision him starting a nuclear war just to deflect from the ongoing criminal investigations.

      Which is a bit of a downer here in my thank you comments! It’s a roundabout way of saying that writing of any sort has been tough for me lately. I don’t see our situation here getting better, so I either need to learn how to create when the world is a hot mess and I don’t feel like writing silly romances–or I need to believe silly romances will save the day and do my part in that regard! šŸ˜‰

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