This IS My Smiling Face

Charlotte Kaufman staring at camera

I really, truly thought I was smiling when I took this picture. It was only after I looked at it in the photo album that I realized that currently, this is my smiling face.

It’s a grimace that I smear upwards. 

A few days ago my neighbor saw me walking down the street and stopped his car to say hello. People do that in this small town. They wave. They slow to talk. He rolled his windows down and I nodded at his daughter in the back seat too.

We chatted about the weather, about the other neighbor who drives too fast on our street, and about upcoming Halloween parties. We have a family costume theme we are doing with the girls (all of us will be characters from Harry Potter), but there are a few parties for adults happening in the next few weeks so we talked about costumes for those. 

My anxiety has been building thinking about attending them. When I went to these parties in 2016 there were people dressed as Trump, as in PRO-Trump. I can only imagine how many little Brett Kavanaughs will be cavorting triumphantly at the upcoming shindigs. I already don’t like going to big loud parties with lots of people I don’t know, especially people who might be openly flaunting how happy they are about a sexual predator being both in the White House and the Supreme Court. 

My neighbor talked about the costume he’d been sewing together for weeks (Mammoth residents are super into their costumes in this town). Then he asked me, “What are you gonna be?”

I blurted out, "I’m gonna be furious.”

He paused. “Fu-riosa? Furious?”

“I’m going to dress as myself and when people ask me what I am I’ll say, ‘I’m furious.’”

His daughter raised her head from the book she was reading in the back of the car and regarded me then. I thought, if you aren’t furious yet, sister, you will be.

I added, “You know, sign of the times.”

He began to nod, understanding.

My awkwardness ended our conversation. He smiled. I did the grimace that I’m smearing across my face and we parted ways. 

The yellow and gold aspen leaves lightly clicked on the asphalt as they fell. My feet tread across them and even stepped on, they were beautiful in their final glory.

What will you be for Halloween? Because I’m furious. 

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Why I Didn't Report. My Own #MeToo

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[I originally posted this on Facebook. I’m resharing it here because writing tends to get lost in the ether over there and here I can add links.]


I'm really low right now. It's been four years since I wrote my own #MeToo and outed my father as an unregistered, unprosecuted sex offender. Four years since I posted a picture of a journal entry from my childhood where I described some of the abuse and #WhyIDidntReport. I can't look at the post or the pictures or that journal entry because my childish handwriting, the fact that I was a child when I described what he did, makes me sick. I also described the 10 years of sexual abuse my sister endured at his hand. I asked for help in getting him prosecuted and friends and strangers tried. They made phone calls. They sent angry emails, but ultimately my father got away free. Because he admitted to what he did to me and we didn't prosecute back then, he couldn't be tried for it later. As for my sister, although he sexually abused her starting at the age of 5 until she was 15, they finally said they couldn't prosecute him because there was no proof.

Just let that sink in for a second. Basically, because he didn't sexually abuse her "bad" enough to be taken to the hospital (to create a record of it), they said it would have been her word against his in the courtroom and even with his admission of guilt to my abuse, it wasn't "enough" of a case.

Calling all men who want to sexually abuse children......the odds are very much in your favor that you'll be able to do it and never ever face a single major consequence. Even if it becomes public knowledge, you won't see jail time. You'll get to have come back tours! Keep your job! Or get hired somewhere else! Heck have you listened to the priest who didn't even know it was illegal to have sex with kids?

Don't worry, guys. You're totally going to get away with it. You can be a Supreme Court Justice and President too. Keep grabbing 'em by the pussies, because as Hannah Gadbsy so eloquently put it in her show, Nanette, "We don't give a shit. We don't give a fuck...about women or children. We only care about a man's reputation." That's right. Over and over, we choose to care about you, fellas, about your precious, precious reputations and livelihoods and your many second and third chances. When you are born male, especially a white male in this country, you are afforded an infinity of second chances. Abuse and grab away. You'll be fine. We will vote you into office even after you admit what you've done. The American people and their leaders will SUPPORT you. They do it all the time. They're doing it now.

I can barely stomach the news cycle or social media right now. The endless affirmations from so many of my fellow Americans who don't give a shit. Who don't give a fuck about women or children. I've known this since I was a child. Since my Bishop told me it was 'time to go back and live with my father. That he was all better and I'd been gone from home long enough.' And while I've known this truth since I was a child, that society doesn't give a shit about me, or all the rest of us who have been sexually abused and sexually assaulted, it doesn't make it any easier to see. To hear them blame the victim, to hear them excuse the man's actions but call into question the child's or the woman's.

It hurts. You try to be tough. You try to be strong. It still hurts. You go to therapy starting at age 14 and continue for the entirety of your adult life. It still hurts. You see how quiet all the men are around you. I have five men in my almost 2,000 Facebook friends who are ACTIVELY posting and speaking out against the sexual assault and violence that happens to women and children in our culture. Why are all the men so quiet? Why do so many women support the perpetrators of sexual violence? Why did my mother not leave my father? Why, why, why. A person can go crazy asking themselves why. Especially when the obvious answer to these questions is that people don't care.

Why do my own brothers and sisters say that me and my sister are lying when there is a record of what my father did in the Anchorage Police Department? When they can read the childish handwriting in my journal from so many years ago? Why do they ignore facts and instead say that we are on a witch hunt against my father? I know (now) that family members rallying around the sex offender is common place, but it doesn't hurt any less.

This post only describes one instance of my sexual abuse. I have a list a mile long of personal stories of abuse, assault and sexual assault. Will I tell these stories too one day? I ask myself if it will change anything if I share them. It's not like baring my fucking soul to the world about our father helped me or my sister see justice.

I have no pretty way to button up this post. I'm depressed and hurting. I'm angry. I'm seething with rage. It's the rage of someone who knows her abuser walks free in the world just the same as it is for so many of the rest of us. They are walking around free men. And I'm terrified of the world my daughters are being ushered into. A world of Brock Turners and the Judges who basically high-five Brock Turners. Of countrywomen and men who vote for leaders who brag about sexual assault.

And if I'm depressed, and hurting, and angry. If I'm seething with rage and also terrified too, you can bet so many more of us are as well. To those who are hurting. I see you. I'm holding you in my heart and aching for you too. I take my medication. I take extra. I drink wine. I sit still. I barely move sometimes, paralyzed with the interplay of emotions. It's the depressing, distressing destruction of an empath in a world that doesn't give a shit.

Men, only you can fix this. ONLY.YOU. In the same way that only white people can stop white supremacy and racism in this country, only men can fix this toxic masculinity, this patriarchy of abuse and assault of women and children.

And we see you. We see the silence of all the 'good' men out there. You know what your silence makes you in my eyes? Complicit. If you want to break your complicity then open your mouths. Speak out. Act. If you are thinking 'it's not true, Charlotte, I care. I give a fuck about you. About women and children.' Then let the women in your lives know. And not once. You have to speak up and out over and over to fix this. You have to do it all the time. And if my accusations make you feel defensive, ask.yourself.why.

#MeToo #WhyIDidntReport #SilenceMakesYouComplicit #WeDontGiveaFuckAboutWomenorChildren #WatchNanette

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