Thursday, October 21, 2010

An Open Letter to Ginni Thomas

Dear Ginni,

May I call you Ginni? I feel like we're girlfriends and we need to chat the way girlfriends chat.

I heard about that unfortunate voice mail you left for Anita Hill at 7:30 on Saturday morning, asking that she apologize to your hubby, Clarence Thomas, for what she did to him almost 20 years ago, and it left me scratching my head. Did Clarence pour your Appletini's a little too strong on Friday nite? Was it a drunk dial by chance?

Look, I get it. Really I do. Women like us, we don't like some woman humiliating our man in public. That's our job, right? And Ms. Hill let the entire world know about your hubby's little sexual proclivities. Whether she was into his fetishes or not, she should have followed the Woman Code and just kept her yap shut, right? I mean, if you want to publicly demean and degrade him, well, that's your right, but for some other woman to come out of the woodwork and air his dirty laundry, well, that's just wrong. Wrong. So, I get it. And I get why you're still walking around with this grudge 20 years later.

Ya, except no, I don't. I don't get it. In fact, I don't get it at all. I think you just sold out all of your women sisters.

When I heard your pathetic message to Ms. Hill, all I could think was "here we go again, blaming the victim." Ms. Hill, whether you believe her testimony or not, was a victim of sexual harassment. Your husband made unwanted sexual comments and innuendos to her in the workplace. He told vile jokes. He made lewd gestures and suggestions. And you just wanted her to swallow hard and keep it all to herself, because at the end of the day, she wanted it all, right?

Have you stopped to think about young women who watched those hearings in 1991, having been victims of sexual assault and/or sexual harassment themselves, and saw a woman of great strength muster all the courage in the world to face her fears and speak her truth? For a few minutes, they may have been inspired to come out of the closet and tell someone what they had been a victim of. And then just seconds later, they saw Anita Hill being raked over the coals by Senators during questioning and in the media as everyone searched for ways to blame her for your husband's infantile behavior. Surely, Ms. Hill must have encouraged him or been a willing participant, right? What woman doesn't love it when a man hands her a can of soda with pubic hair on it?

I can only imagine that watching what Ms. Hill went through almost 20 years ago in the press, many young women learned the lesson that they would be forever better off swallowing their pain and keeping their mouths shut, lest they too get assaulted again by the "blame the victim" mentality in our society.

Your voice mail message probably opened many old wounds for women who've gone through twenty years of self-loathing and blaming themselves in an effort to avoid the pain of public scrutiny. And quite probably, your message, and the press it's gotten in the last 48 hours, has taught a new generation of women that they must keep their mouths shut because at the end of the day, everyone will think they did something to deserve it and by stepping forward, they are ruining the lives of the men who hurt them.

That's some pretty messed up thinking that women need to protect men who hurt them, but from my listening of the message you left for Anita Hill, I gather that's what you believe.

Ginni, I believe you owe women everywhere an apology. October in National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and rather than encouraging women to hide in the shadows and carry the secrets of men who abuse them by harassing them in the workplace, assaulting them in the dorm, or beating them behind closed doors and "blaming the victim," you owe it to your gender to stand up and encourage all women to speak their truth.

So give it some thought. And certainly pray about this and hope that one day you will help us understand why you did what you did. Okay. Have a good day.

Little Merry Sunshine

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