May 28, 2014

Eight More

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I am bone tired.

Not just because my husband and I enjoyed a crazy, whirlwind weekend- our first ever away from the kids.

Not just because we missed our flight home and stayed up all night, flying standby and finally coming back to our home in time for our children to rise and begin their day. Not just because today is a day to them like any other, and they don't understand or care that I'm sleep deprived and suffering the repercussions of twelve hours of airport food and wharf fudge.

I am bone tired because I made a conscious choice while I was on vacation- my first vacation since my honeymoon.

I decided to ignore the news.

This was particularly difficult, as I was vacationing in beautiful Santa Barbara, California. Where this weekend's tragedy occurred.

I say "this weekend's tragedy" to clarify, because I am so damn tired I'm afraid I might confuse myself. Because roughly twice a month for what feels like as long as I can remember, there's been something else like it. Some other person who took their guns to town, despite Johnny Cash's old advice, and slaughtered human beings.

I also say "this weekend's tragedy" because if I were only to say, "A confused, angry man decided to take his rage out on women he saw as having wronged him, and took lives in his fury," I could be talking about the three women who are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends or exes every single day.

So "this weekend's tragedy" it is.

Seven people killed. A gigantic tome of a manifesto by the murderer, who took his own life. A dozen more injured.

Why? Because he believed those women owed him something. Sex, attention, affection, something. He believed those women wronged him just by not seeing in him what he saw in himself- that he deserved them. That he had somehow already won them. That they were not people, but the objects of his desire, and as such he already owned them.

That's what he saw. And so instead of seeking therapy, instead of moving to a country where women legally aren't people with their own rights and own stories and own lives to run as they choose, he targeted and killed them.

He put videos on the internet of himself ranting, blaming his victims for imagined crimes against his fragile ego. It's the same rant you can find in court testimonies in domestic violence cases across the country. It's the same narrative you see in movie after movie, in book after book. "I was there for her, she owed me. She lied to me when she smiled and didn't put out. She led me on. She deserved what she got."

And I am exhausted.

I'm exhausted because #YesAllWomen is trending on twitter, it's trending everywhere, and I can't look away. I'm not on vacation anymore. I can't look at my husband and say, "It's our second honeymoon- it's a special trip- I'm not thinking of sadness or rage or any of it. Let's get in the hot tub and drink margaritas while the sun sets over the ocean." I can't do that, because I can't take my eyes away.

I'm tired of saying over and over again "I'm a feminist" and having people react as though I walked into bar mitzvah with a "Jews for Jesus" t-shirt. I'm tired of saying over and over again that I advocate for victims of sexual assault, but it's not because I'm a survivor. Or not only because.

I'm tired of having to use phrases like, "I'm married," to get men to leave me alone. I'm tired of having to use phrases like, "I'm a rape survivor" to get airport security to stop leering and digital images of my artificially nude body.

I'm tired of drafting conversations in my head I won't need to have for years, to tell my daughters how much I love them but that they need to protect themselves, because even though it's not their job to avoid being raped they will be blamed if they are raped. Not by me, I'll tell them. But it will happen. And I can't stop it.

I'm tired of knowing that I alone can't stop it.

I'm tired of signs and ads and facebook memes reminding people that every woman is somebody's daughter, or wife, or mother, or sister... as though she's not her own person regardless.

I'm tired of sitting in front of my computer, watching picture after picture of victim and villain appear on my screen, and feel the need to make excuses for everyone. To apologize for everyone. To apologize to everyone.

I'm tired of feeling responsible, responsible for my own victimization, and responsible for the fact that it continues.

I'm tired of tragedies. But when they come so fast and so often, it's hard to remember they're tragedies. It's hard not to simply see them as life. As life in a country where women are technically given equal rights, even if our lawmakers refuse to extend them to pay, workplace protections, or healthcare. It's easy to say, "Oh dear, another mass shooting, another murder spree, another bunch of anonymous victims- dead and gone. Somebody should do something to make it stop. Too bad there's nothing to be done."

There's always something to be done.

I'm sorry. I'm sorry I buried my head in the sand and allowed myself the luxury of a weekend. I'm sorry I intentionally closed my eyes and ears to the news happening literally all around me, and drank icy beverages and wandered the beach and gazed at the mountains. I'm sorry.

And I'm pissed as hell that I have to be sorry for that. Because I deserve a few days of happiness and relaxation, don't I?

And I'm miserable at feeling so selfish and self entitled that I could actually dismiss the tragedy of eight families, shrug them off and tell myself I'd feel their pain later.

That's what we all do, all the time. We all say we're too busy. We've got important things to do that don't involve mourning.

Mourning is never on the agenda.

So I'm tired. And I know you're tired, too.

But that's just too bad. Because there is no such thing as being too tired for empathy.

There is only the selfishness in all of us that doesn't want to feel it, because we have more important things to feel.

There is nothing more important to feel than empathy. And I'm ashamed of myself for forgetting that, even for a weekend.

I'm so sorry.

And I'm tired of it.


  1. Still, you deserved your weekend. Sadly, there are things like this that happen all the time. And we still have to take time to enjoy our lives- to remind ourselves what it is that we're fighting for in the first place.

  2. You make excellent points, but don't beat yourself up. We all have to unplug, unconnect, reboot spiritually. There are literally tragedies of one sort or another every single day. Our soul deserves a rest, a vacation, a respite. WIthout rest you'll grow far too weary. You have to take care of yourself, your own family, your world, and THEN help with the rest of the world. A breakdown helps no one. And you're back, you're spreading the message, you're doing the good work and being part of the solution, so there's that :)

  3. I tune out sometimes, a lot since having children, to keep the horror stories in the news from driving me into darkness. But when I am on the outside of the know, I hate myself a little. Who am I to go bouncing merrily along in my own little bubble, when there is so much tragedy in the world? I know your empathy runs deep, Lea. I vote you get a weekend off. xoxo

  4. It is so hard to unplug, from our children, from our jobs and from the world around us. But unplug we must, because unfortunately these awful tragedies are going to keep coming and if those of us who care about them and want to change them never rest we will have no energy to continue the fight. And fight we must, after we rest. xoxo

  5. As the wise flight attendant said, "Please safely secure the oxygen mask over your own nose and mouth before assisting the person next to you." xo

  6. How many women kill men?

    How many women kill their new born babies.

    How many women kill their kids?

    You are a feminist bigot.

    Women are the safest demographic, are women so extra human that there needs to be concern for them even though they are far safer than men?

    When women stop abusing kids, I will show concern for women.



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