Before I was 14, at least five creeps had interfered with my life.
The first, sitting in a car, asked me and my sister as we were walking to elementary school if we wanted to see the “kitty cat” on his lap.
The second and third, also in cars, were looking for “directions.” Each time the police were called, and the police mansplained that the men just wanted “a reaction.”
On a crowded San Francisco cable car, another creep pressed against my back and I elbowed him repeatedly, attracting the attention of others, who helped push him away. He got off at the next stop, grinning.
And there was the one who pulled down his pants and had a one-man party outside the front window of a submarine sandwich shop (called “Up Periscope,” I swear).
I was so used to men behaving badly by then that I didn’t visibly react, which he was not expecting. He nervously ran away, maybe worried he was wasting good moves on a blind chick.
These incidents happened decades ago, and that’s my point. I remember them clearly, since they were not typical behavior.
That’s why they stood out as emotional memories for me. In our recent national public embarrassment, Alabama Judge Roy Moore’s objection to the women publicizing his bad behavior seems to be that these women waited 40 years to report him.
News alert, Judge: They didn’t wait. I guarantee they’ve told friends, family members and police. I have been telling these stories for 50 years, and they’re the wallpaper of my life instead of secret rooms I can’t go into, because I was lucky I wasn’t grabbed.
Sometimes the molester leaves a trail. No matter how long ago it was, he needs to answer for it.
Moore was successful in “impressing” girls and their moms, thus got away with molestation and maybe worse. The women said they felt awkward and knew it seemed wrong, just as I knew not to approach men in their cars when I was beckoned.
When girls appear vulnerable, only a man with bad intent takes advantage.
Perhaps looking for a situation in which to insinuate himself, Moore, who had cred and an office inside, came upon a woman and her daughter awaiting a court appearance. He manipulated them by asking personal questions, gaining the trust of the mother in order to be left alone with the daughter, supposedly to “look after her.”
He was a stranger. He chatted her up, showed interest in her, and got her phone number. Shortly after, he asked her out, secretly picking her up around the corner from home, and, as she remembers, molested her at his place.
The reaction of his supporters in Alabama is frightening. The Washington Post story was not invented; it’s well documented, full of testimony from the women involved and in some cases, their mothers. Moore and supporters are suspicious because it was publicized before a big election.
It was, in fact, long overdue.
Imagine you’re 14, and that everyone finds out an older man stripped you down to your underwear, touched you and made you touch him. Your gut feeling is, “this is wrong,” and you want to go home.
You tell someone you trust, maybe, and you stop taking his phone calls because you don’t want it to continue. Eventually, your life goes on, and this becomes part of your past. Get that? It’s not gone, just past.
Until further discovery, Moore was mainly a molester who was banned from lurking in malls. Even so, he violated state laws, disrespected personal privacy and the self-worth of teenage girls.
Making their stories public now is decidedly the bravest, best thing these women could do, because some girls may benefit from breaking years of painful silence.
Regardless of the fact that the statute of limitations for prosecuting him has long passed, there is no limit on one’s memories of being humiliated and shamed by the actions of a man whose apparent insecurities led him to prey on trusting girls.
This creep is finally getting his reaction.