Content Warning: This story includes discussion of sexual assault.
On Wednesday, March 23, a worst-case scenario predicted by abortion rights activists became a reality when Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed into law a policy modeled on SB 8, Texas’ extreme six-week abortion ban. As the first law modeled on SB 8 to be implemented, Idaho’s provision bans abortions after six weeks, and — in a surreal variation on the Texas law — allows providers to be sued for $20,000 by people who might have been family members of babies who might have been born if embryos had been carried to term.
Last week, a 35-year-old man who had been released from jail less than one week earlier attacked a county employee in a women’s restroom at the King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle. The assailant, a Level 1 sex offender with a history of attacking women, told detectives he had smoked “homemade meth” immediately before the attack. A police report filed after the incident indicates the attacker, who is a person experiencing homelessness, may suffer from mental illness.
The particulars of this case might lead a reasonable person to conclude that people who commit sex offenses need closer monitoring once they’re released from custody, along with access to housing and mental health care to prevent them from reoffending once they’re released.
Instead, the assault became a symbol for conservative officials, who suggested “solutions” that included sweeping dozens of homeless people from a nearby encampment and directing women to change the way they behave in public.
Within the first six days of a hunger strike outside of Casa Latina, one participant was hospitalized twice. Firm in her stance that Casa Latina had not done enough for the workers who had levied sexual assault allegations against another employee, the hunger striker refused food, even in the hospital.
For over a week, a handful of protestors camped outside of Casa Latina — an organization dedicated to promoting employment and education in the Latino community — vowing not to leave and not to eat until their demands were met. On Sunday, June 13, with stomachs empty from a tense nine days that shut down the day worker center due to alleged intimidation from the protestors, the strikers and Casa Latina’s leadership came to an agreement.
“I’ve started eating again slowly,” said Ana Torres, who nearly threw up when she broke her fast with a banana after the meeting with Casa Latina that Sunday. “Too much pain in the stomach. Nothing good.”
I do not want to write about Joe Biden and the sexual assault charge against him. This will not feel good, and I know many of you will resent my forging ahead anyway. There is no sleight of hand that will change our small range of bad choices in November. So why throw a floodlight on them?
But as someone who wrote passionately about the Kavanaugh hearings last year (and who, by unfortunate nature, leans into uncomfortable spaces) I cannot look away and I argue, neither should you. Because while political perfection cannot save us here, an ability to hold complex tension might. There are no shortcuts and the road we have to walk is long and dangerous. As a counselor in training, my courses often refer to a moment like this as a “growth edge,” a place of deep discomfort and vibrating possibility. A place where profound discoveries are possible, but the urge to retreat, or react in fear, can be overwhelming.
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by Marilyn Watkins
My first response to the sea of “me toos” on Facebook over the past few days was to wonder how anyone out there could possibly not already know that women and teenage girls are routinely subjected to sexual harassment and sexual assault in our culture. But maybe too many of us have silently accepted it for too long.
We’ve also failed to connect the dots to current policy discussions about issues like reproductive choice, the gender wage gap, and child poverty.