"She says, 'baby, it happend to me too
What the hell was I supposed to do?
When he climbed in through my
I called out, but no one came
The odds were stacked against me
One in five women get raped
I wonder what percentage
Are then made to feel ashamed?'" -- Corey Kilgannon, "Ashamed" (off the album As Above, So Below)

Public Story Telling

Before I start my white male thoughts on what these topics mean to me and how I am processing these things, I felt it necessary to include a woman’s voice first (something that doesn’t often happen) — the following story is just that.

A Story of Truth. An All Too Common Story.

Corey Kilgannon’s song, Ashamed made me emotional the first time I heard it. The truth he speaks is sad but necessary to start talking about if anything is going to change. Hearing it stirred up emotions I have felt when being catcalled and then being called a bitch for not engaging in the man’s fantasy. As a woman, this happens so often that we are just supposed to brush it off and act like it isn’t a big deal or to even act like it is a compliment. One specific time that comes to mind was at the lake when I was a teenager. This older drunk man started yelling at me from his boat –things about my body that made me feel uncomfortable, especially coming from an older stranger. Everyone around was looking at me and I ignored him and pretended to not hear. Nevertheless, he kept shouting until my lack of engagement upset him and he shouted, “What? Are you deaf?” and sped off. I was left feeling embarrassed and ashamed that afterward, I put on shorts and a shirt over my swimsuit for the rest of the day.

Public Story Telling Continued

I went to Corey’s concert last week — it was truly a beautiful human moment of connection, heartbreak, and healing. The song quoted in the intro is a particularly difficult one for Corey. It depicts the story of his fiancee, Corri’s (yes they are both named Corey/Corri) sexual assault. I hesitate to speak further into this issue since it is not a personal story connected to me. However, it does cause me to consider our world as a whole, and how patriarchy is rooted in practically every system. Indeed, my white privilege plays into the patriarchy as well. During the concert, when this song was played in duet by Corey and Corri, you couldn’t help but feel a plethora of emotions from hatred, hopelessness, and fear to notions of peace, love, and forgiveness. At the end of the song, they simply sat in a moment of silence — the room felt the weight of the song and story. People were crying, I was crying, Corey was crying. While this song hit us all, this silence also made a way towards forgiveness. A moment to focus on the breath, to focus on the now, to understand where our feelings are coming from and not to judge them but simply feel alive. One in five women get raped is a true statistic, some research even says one in three. The men who commit these evils against women often go without punishment (except maybe their consciousnesses). They hid behind the pulpit, or politics, or family members.

Nevertheless, it is through this public storytelling that forgiveness begins to take root. To not be silenced, to not let evil win. Not let a man dominate women. It gave me hope. It made me realize that I’ve made jokes that degrade women. My eyes have objectified women. That doesn’t mean I should justify these actions with “boys will be boys.” It moves me to seek forgiveness, to stand for the marginalized, to stop the patriarchy rooted in some religion, systems of government, and the status quo of our nation of “freedom.” I realize that to not speak up is to actively allow these evil actions to continue. This doesn’t mean that I no longer still struggle with anger towards the men who commit these actions or at our nation as a whole — it does mean that I am seeking to forgive and love. To try and empathize and to hear the stories of millions of women who have experienced sexual assault. Allow love to take the sting out of misogyny.

I leave you with one of the verses…

"Radiant woman, sees forgiveness
Despite all that's been done
Won't be silenced, shares her story
Begins to overcome
More enlightened, more aware 
Of how pain gives birth to love
Dreams that someday we'll be married 
A daughter and a son
To be honest that thought kills me 
Are we drifting further from 
A world that's safe and suitable 
For a child to grow up
Our boy becomes a man someday
Get's shipped off with a gun
Teach Rosanna, pure and lovely
Early how to run
Tell Rosanna falls of tears
What happened to her mom" - Corey Kilgannon, Ashamed

Be free in the present,

Trace Maddox

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