This meme sums up my 2018 so far.
To be a freelance writer—to work for yourself and call the shots and figure out how to make enough money to put food on the table and keep your baby diapered up—you’ve got to be a really motivated person. You’ve got to have goals, and you’ve got to want to fight to make them. But this first month of this new, beautiful year, I didn’t have it in me.
I don’t know if SAD got to me, or I’ve just internalized all of the negative, disappointing, ass-backwards news I wrote about in 2017, but whatever the reason, I didn’t have any fire.
But then my editor assigned me this piece to write about how many men, despite being accused of sexual assault, still go on to live very successful lives. I spent more hours than I should have (considering the fee) reading past new reports and analysis. One particular incident that didn’t make it into the story was about former Vice President Al Gore.
In 2009, an unnamed licensed massage therapist told police Gore assaulted her three years earlier during a massage he requested in his Oregon hotel room. After making a number of sexual advances, she said in a statement, Gore allegedly forcibly kissed her and “painfully squeezed my nipples through my clothing, pressed his pelvis against mine, rubbed my buttocks with his hands and fingers and rubbed himself against my crotch, saying, ‘You know you want to do it.’” The police ultimately determined there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue charges against Gore.
At the time, the media hardly covered the allegations against Gore; most of those that did, The Nation pointed out, “trotted out excuses in Gore’s defense.” In the years since, Gore has continued working to raise awareness on climate change, and last year, his latest film, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
I wonder now, whatever happened to that massage therapist, and the others who came forward with similar allegations? Whatever happened to Desiree Washington, the young woman who was raped by Mike Tyson? How does she feel now, seeing that even time in prison didn’t stop Adult Swim from giving him his own cartoon, or book publishers from helping him tell his story?
I think researching and writing this story helped me focus in a little more on what I want to accomplish this year. Of course, I want to make more money and publish in a broader range of publications—this is only my third year of freelancing full time, so that’s obvious. But my fire this year will be fanned by elevating the untold stories of women, and particularly marginalized women, who don’t otherwise have the means or the platforms. Their voices matter too, and I will continue to pitch and write stories that center them.
What I’m reading
Essays. Here are a couple that have resonated with me recently.
• “I Got A Dramatic Post-Breakup Haircut And It Changed My Life” by Gigi Engle
• “Filet-O-Comfort: My immigrant family made an American fast-food staple their own” by Melissa Hung
And one reported piece about women’s health that you MUST READ because OMG.
• “The Husband Stitch Isn’t Just a Horrifying Childbirth Myth” by Carrie Murphy