Selfish sociopath” Simone Biles takes the weight of vicious, ignorant selfish sociopaths who might want to look in the mirror. But that’s just me.
Better writers than I am, and many if not all are fellow Black sisters to Simone, have spoken out. That’s not me.
Smarter folks than I am have pointed out that Naomi Osaka, who stood up to the sometimes-ugly sports media who can be horrifically invasive, set a standard. That standard gave the brilliant Biles implicit and explicit permission to not be perfect all the time. None of us can. Our intense demand that Biles be perfect, a sexual assault survivor, that she somehow “deal with all that” before the Olympics is, well.
As if, and kindly I respond as a gang rape survivor, you can just “deal with all that” and all the weight and pressure of being the Greatest of All Time, put it into a handy package with a bow in time for the Olympics.
I heard that comment (by an angry white male asshole, why am I surprised) and thought, without any mercy AT ALL,
I hope you get brutally raped by a gang, Billy Bob. And then we’ll see just how quickly you “put all that behind your behind” before the next broadcast. Sure. Show us sexual assault survivors how it’s done. Please. Do tell.
Let’s ask the ten thousand military men who are raped every year if they can “just put all that aside” and get on with it, shall we? Are they losers because they were/are damaged by such experiences? Are we to mock them because they can’t just fuggetaboudit as though it was just a minor inconvenience?
The push to crush Biles and Osaka and any other genuine human being who possesses the temerity to step down to GASP, take care of themselves because GASP, they are tired of carrying our sorry asses and unfair expectations on their shoulders, well. How. Dare. They.
Screw you attackers already.
For every single one of us who ever over-performed, exceeded expectations and pushed ourselves beyond our limits BECAUSE we were abused and BECAUSE we had no voice and BECAUSE people didn’t want to hear how their heroes were sexual abusers, well.
Like military leaders and preachers and priests and politicians and gymnastics coaches. And doctors and psychiatrists and Boy Scout leaders and trusted family members. Oh, I could go on. So of course, from those same dim bulbs who brought you Covid is fake, QAnon is real, and Trump (the world’s most public loser) is a hero…
…we also have this:
And this from the rotted, testosterone-fueled, stinking cesspool that is the conservative element of Texas:
He recanted later but only after said balls were crushed in a public vise by his boss. Good. But still. I suspect he recanted because his job is on the line, not because he grew a pair of actual balls.
Gentlemen. Really. Hey, not that I feel strongly or anything. Happily, the kinds of people who say these things, male or female, tend to belong to a select family. Good folks do not do such things. They stand up for peoples’ rights to mind their minds, and their bodies and their health. But I am ahead of myself.
Overcompensation after sexual assault nearly killed me. Does kill people. Some diminish, some go to extremes. Neither is healthy. Healthy is about boundaries. Abused folks have a hard time with boundaries. Some take their own lives because those boundaries were erased entirely. They no longer belonged to themselves.
Kerri Strug sacrificed her body for Team America, which promptly forgets about you if you go down, and leaves you bleeding on the field. Team America the nation, not your teammates. Team America rapes and eats its children. Just look at any and all girls’ athletics. Boys’ athletics. Remember Penn State? Any and all Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts. Any Sunday school program. Don’t. Get. Me. Started. We are a predatory nation which values the predator far more than those the predators damage. Our institutions, policies, government, national behavior in the world are all predatory. Not all of them, but that behavior feeds the beast that is America.
To own that is to own the fact that America is not now and has never been great. Not ever. Not in this regard. What would make her great is to own her shit.
The fact that so many of those of us who got abused go on to overachieve does not give people license to continue. I have to wonder if Osaka and Biles’ public statements about their mental health are hard to hear for they force us to face our shit.
Many of those of us who were assaulted and abused overachieve because we believe we are worthless. This is how we’re manipulated by the very people who did the damage in the first place. I can’t even go down that road about Black women, supremely talented Black women, who for the double crime of being female AND Black they have to overachieve just to mop the floor under the table, be able to serve drinks at the table, much less sit at the goddamned table, far less to sit at the head of the goddamned table which is where a great many of them have long belonged.
And society shames them for taking a time out. Shames any of us for taking at time out to take care of ourselves.
In that sick way that people and institutions which perpetrate, ignore or otherwise continue to allow sexual assault, when you and I overachieve, it allows said individuals and institutions to say to themselves and each other that clearly it (the rapes, the assaults) couldn’t have been that bad, see how well they’re doing. That salves the guilt, justifies continuing the abuse, and ensures protection for the perps.
All I had to do was look at how many decades the VA kept pointing out how well I had done, what an exemplary soldier I had been, so that the assaults couldn’t have been real. That in the face of knowing full well that the military psychiatrist who had been committing the rapes could have delivered a lifetime career jail sentence by calling me unhinged, had I dared to report him. He’s buried as a hero in Arlington National Cemetery.
We lionize abusers and abuse the real heroes.
By doing so, we avoid responsibility for the societal ills and ugliness we perpetuate.
One of the reasons I so loved the Lieutenant Ripley character in Aliens was that she had PTSD, had lost her daughter, lost her status, had been publicly shamed and stripped of her rank, placed under mental observation, all after having suffered through the loss of her entire crew and kicking alien ass off the Nostromo. Yet still she had the balls to suit back up and confront an army of the things. For my dollar, that seminal movie and what it said about vulnerability, strength and feminine power were all I need to see validated on the big screen. As much as I love all the real and imaginary sheroes, Alien and Aliens gave me permission as 26-year-old woman to be a badass with feelings, tears and uber-competence. It didn’t stop the eating disorders. But it gave me a glimmer of hope, which eventually blossomed into a very bright light.
That is the torch I now carry. Something had to be the spark. Some story, real or imagined had to fire my imagination. For a generation of girls, for billions of us, for future generations of Black girl babies with dreams, Biles AND her sexual assault story AND her GOAT status and MOST ESPECIALLY the courage she has shown to listen to and not sacrifice her body on the altar of American selfishness are that spark, that light.
We have no right to demand that athletes like Biles and Osaka give it all up for team America, a nation that all too often despises Black women for the very thing that gives us reason to be proud of ourselves, but horrified at some deep visceral level that it was and continues to be (GASP) Black women who deliver the goods in so many cases.
To that, then, I agree with this completely:
Biles has already delivered. Over and over and over. It isn’t just that she delivered in spite of. It isn’t just that she delivered herself. But in this case, for me and for all the girls and men who ever paid a terrible price at the hands of abusers, on this she, and Osaka, delivered the real trophy:
Permission to say back OFF and let me heal.
For my dollar, that is the real gold medal.