If She Was Your Daughter

Do you know how many women I know, who told their fathers? Who told their mothers, their friends, a “trusted adult” that they were being hurt or had been hurt? Do you know how many of these people, who have daughters, did nothing?

Homeless shelters are full of girls and boys whose parents chose their abusers over them. It happens every day.

Let me tell you what they’d do, these upstanding Republican congressmen, if it was their daughters.

They’d say to their girls, their beloved girls who they taught to throw a ball just like a boy and who they said could do anything a man could do and whose report cards they pinned to the fridge, they’d say:

You’re making that up.

They’d say:

He didn’t really mean it.

They’d say:

You led him on.


They’d say:

You should forgive him.

You know why they’d say those things to the girls they read bedtime stories to every night? You know why they’d back down in the face of someone who bullied their own flesh and blood?

Because nothing matters more than the status quo.

Do you know how many of these men have already faced the fact that it was their daughters?

Do you know how many of them did nothing?

I can even understand it, you know. It’s a human instinct to protect your relationships, and so you gamble: You call out a man for hurting your child, he might leave. He might cause trouble for you. He might get you fired or fight you or find a way to make you less, turn all your friends against you, refuse to work with you, tell others and embarrass you.

Your daughter? She will probably stay. She will probably quiet down. She will probably stop talking about it.

She will probably minimize what happened in her own mind and minimize it for you, so that her relationship with you can stay intact. Nothing’s worth destroying your relationship with your family, after all. She’s been socialized since birth to provide for men’s comfort and that means comfort of mind as well as body.

You can hear her telling herself: She survived it. It wasn’t that bad.

It’s a much safer bet, to discount her version of events, so that’s your solution. It keeps everything the same. It keeps everybody comfortable. And she stays. And she feels just a little less important to you, and a little less real, because whether you think about it in these terms or not, you’ve demoted her. She was your daughter.

Now she’s just another woman, another wicked female, who you don’t believe.

So when someone who looks just like her goes on the news and tells everyone that a member of a political party you admire and identify with, or a celebrity you like, tried to assault her, hurt her, rape her, you don’t see your daughter.

You see someone who’s trying to do what your daughter tried to do. Upset everybody. Get attention. Get something out of this.

And if you face the facts and say out loud that this didn’t have to happen to this stranger, this girl you don’t know on TV who’s accusing a man who looks and acts just like you, is in politics just like you, if you say out loud that someone should have stood up for her, should have done something?

Then you face the facts and say out loud that this didn’t have to happen to your daughter, and you should have stood up for her. You should have done something.

And oh, then doesn’t the whole nice polite reasonable world come crashing down?

I said back when Trump and Billy Bush were cackling about grabbing women by the pussy that the most insidious person on that bus wasn’t Trump but Billy, because lots of of guys wouldn’t be the bully but they would be the coward who laughed at his jokes.

They wouldn’t react differently if Roy Moore had hurt their daughter. Chances are someone like him already did, and they didn’t believe her.


11 thoughts on “If She Was Your Daughter

  1. It’s also Catholics in the Northeast.

  2. moeman says:

    This is an incredible post.

  3. tengrain says:

    A –

    Thank you. I don’t have anything else to say, but I’ll say it again: Thank you.



  4. I was lucky.
    My parents didn’t choose to minimize me. Or my brother. Or my sister.
    Not for a job, not for politics, not for community go-along-to-get-along reasons.
    My parents raised us to fight back.
    We should do the same for our kids.

  5. Phoenix says:

    Thank you. I’m dealing with a recent diagnoses of PTSD brought on by Military Sexual Trauma from nearly 40 years ago. When I read the sentence, ” You can hear her telling herself: She survived it. It wasn’t that bad,” I gasped. My words written down. The same words that kept me silent for so many years to the point that my trauma was completely hidden from myself. I was triggered by the audio of Trump’s bragging about ‘grab’em by the pussy’. Thought I was going crazy until the diagnosis. We have to speak out, even if it has been decades. Thank you for this piece. I’ve shared it.

  6. This is incredibly moving and accurate essay. I would like to republish it on my blog. Please let me know if I have permission. I am going to assume I do because this is such an important communication. I will take it down if Author objects.

  7. roxy7655 says:

    That’s some painful truths right there, hon. Well written. Good on ya.

  8. Daremonai says:

    I can not help but think back to the number of people in the 80s who were big on the idea that child abuse was a gay or satanic thing, so whatever they were doing to their own daughter couldn’t be… and the congregations that let the logic slide.

  9. Duncan says:

    Thank you. My heart is broken. Thank you for saying all of it.

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