The Game


This is stunning.
We are actually talking about the game.
The game we women have been playing forever.

Game probably isn’t the right word.
Maybe “tactical, strategic approach to life” is a better term.
Certainly there has never been a level playing field.
Certainly the ref has been blind on purpose.
Certainly, certainly we have never won.

Middle-aged me, sitting in my house in the suburbs,
reads Dr. Ford’s account
and my stomach tightens
and a feeling like cold water runs down my spine.
I did not experience what she experienced,
and I am not co-opting her story.
But my body remembers the fear —
the general, pervasive fear of males in certain situations.
From puberty onward,
there was an unspoken awareness that we were prey,
and that we girls had to stick together because the world was not safe for us.
Males were not expected to shoulder 100% of their own behavior
because, you know, boys will be boys.
And if you ended up in a situation where
what happens at such and so stays at such and so . . .
well, you went home and sobbed into your diary
and cried to your best friend on the phone
because fairness was not going to come from outside
and you were going to have to weather this storm
with no man-made shelter,
only the kind hands of the females you confided in
held in makeshift fashion over your weeping self.

I never thought we’d be here.
I never entertained the idea that we would actually
start to name the toxin in the water that we all have been drinking.

This is not a women’s concern.
This is a human concern.
And the more this issue is brought out into the open,
the more light that is shed into dark corners,
the more words put to previously unspoken fears,

the more we can prepare future generations to do better,
and the more all the injured players
in this ancient game
can heal.

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