“I want to stab him in the testicles a million times”

By Mary Roberts 

“What do you think we are? Cattle?”

I’m caught in a tight scree of human flesh, all pretending we aren’t pressed up against each other’s bodies — fleshy, rib thin, and somewhere in-between. Boston’s old subway cars weren’t meant to hold this many people. The cattle remark is in my head. I can’t say it. I’m afraid I’ll stutter or people would laugh at me.

That’s when it happens.

Before the 2016 presidential election, Mary Roberts wrote about real estate, her Irish Catholic childhood in Boston and the 13 dogs that have defined the chapters of her life. Now, she writes to say, “Wake up, people!” Learn more about Mary.

Someone reaches from behind me and slides his hand down the front on my pants. Both of my hands are gripping the overhead strap and my legs are parted to steady myself from the stops and starts of the jolting train.

“Hey!” I let go of the strap with my left arm and squeeze it between two of my neighbors but the hand is gone before I can grab it. It is 1970. I am 19. I burn in shame.

I had returned home after one year of college in New York. Home was Needham, a small town 10 miles west of Boston. Long island, N.Y., was not where I wanted to be. I didn’t know where I wanted to be. I had no plan or ambition, except to star in Broadway musicals but I was afraid to speak and couldn’t sing. I had also broken my kneecap twice in high school. My one year as a drama major ended in disaster when I couldn’t manage the role as Marat Sade’s mother. And she was a stutterer.

Mom’s friend got me a job in Medical Records at Children’s Hospital and I went to night school at Boston College. From the hospital, I took the Green Line to the BC stop. Three hours later, I’d head home to the Newton Highlands stop where I would take a bus to Needham Square. I didn’t drive and we didn’t have a car anyway, so the MBTA was my constant companion, riding its street cars and buses four times a day.

“I won’t do this anymore.”

I hated the way men looked at me when I’d make my way through the construction sites that littered the streets and sidewalks along the way. I’d veer out to the road followed by the whistles and calls for blow jobs from the guys with hard hats. I wore glasses, no makeup and baggy turtlenecks with the mandatory skirts but it didn’t matter. I was young.

After the subway incident, I went in to the manager’s office and told her I was done. “I can’t do this anymore,” I told her, “I won’t do this anymore.”

Two weeks later, on New Year’s Eve, 1970, I was on an airplane with my sister who was headed back to Colorado State University after Christmas break. She and I were never the best friends we should have been, only 18 months apart, but it was better than spending the rest of my life terrified of crowds and the subway. I was already unable to drive after a traumatizing car accident. A good sturdy bike would get me where I needed to go in Colorado.

“A bloated, orange-tinted mass of pulpy flesh”

Forty plus years later and Donald Trump is caught saying ‘grab them by the pussy’ and I am outraged. More than outraged.

I am indignant, incensed, I am horrified. In my dreams, I want to stab him in the heart and testicles a million times then write my name — and the names of all women who have been assaulted, grabbed, diminished, denigrated — in his blood as it slowly leaves his body, leaving a bloated, orange-tinted mass off pulpy flesh and pockmarked bone. Again, fantasies in my dream land, not for advocating violence against a president or anyone.

Does such a dream make me a terrorist? Did I break the law by entertaining fantasies of hurting the president?

I don’t harbor those fantasies because I disagree with his policies (which I do) or think that he is a disgrace as a president and a human being (which I do). I harbor those fantasies because he is a predator and a sexual bully. Every woman knows what that is and the women who voted for him have neatly compartmentalized that fact somewhere in their emotional body where it will fester and eventually destroy them.

“Was I that fragile?”

At 65 years of age, I now understand that I left Boston because someone grabbed me by the pussy. I left behind the love of my life, the ocean, my mother, the home I was raised in and the New England I still yearn for—just because an asshole grabbed me and I felt powerless and ashamed and scared that it would happen again.

Was I that fragile? Was I that sorry-ass wimp of a girl? Without the backbone to give the construction guys the finger and yell ‘fuck you’ back at them? Without the courage to call out ‘help’ in the subway car? Yes, I was.

Years later, I hug my dogs tight when I hear the President’s voice over the radio. I’m already considering a replacement for the third dog I just lost to a painful disease. Two is good but three — three is impenetrable.

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Government workers must refuse to obey unjust orders

By Bear Gebhardt

In the first week of the new administration, Sally Yates, who was then our acting U.S. Attorney General, acted like a true hero when she said yes to her conscience, yes to the constitution and no to her boss. She set the high moral standard for what more and more government employees will be asked to do.

Although Ms. Yates was quickly fired (she already knew she would be replaced within the month), she was also quickly vindicated. She was proven right when within days various federal judges across the country agreed with her: The “orders” she had been given were deemed unconstitutional.

Her actions of refusal (resistance!) set a powerful example for what more and more government employees are now forced to do, from local police officers, immigration agents, teachers, welfare, and food inspection officers up through the ranks to cabinet political appointees.

Again: say yes to your conscience, yes to the constitution, no to the boss.

The international courts at Nuremberg, after World War II, made it plain: Our own conscience and our personal sense of human dignity and humanity always, always (always!) take precedence over orders from above, if those orders require us to engage in acts of human cruelty.

“We must say no to orders from above when those orders impinge on human dignity.”

“Orders from above” never justify the immoral, illegal or even questionable imposing of harm or abuse on fellow human beings. When the term “never forget” came out of the holocaust, what we were encouraged to never forget is this exact lesson: We can say no, we must say no to orders from above when those orders impinge on human decency.

Immigration officers at the NYC airport who refused to acknowledge a valid court order which temporarily suspended Trump’s Executive Order denying the rights of legal U.S. residents to return home were acting in a cowardly or at least ignorant manner. They were following the orders of their bosses, rather than their conscience or the law.

In an era when it seems that much executive policy—in spite of current laws or accepted precedent—springs from irrational fears, a sense of personal privilege and mean-spirited retribution, it is imperative for all of us to see quite clearly, quite simply this creed: If it violates the constitution and/or goes against our conscience, we are free to say no, we are obligated to say no, even if it’s our direct boss who demands our obedience. (Read Bear Gebhardt’s Gandolph Nuremberg Strategy for details.)

Again, the Nuremberg Trials established the international law that supports always acting according to our own conscience, and our own sense of the constitution, and particularly the Bill of Rights.

We each have the right and obligation to say no to unjust or inhumane orders from above. Such a “no” may cost us in the short run—as it did for Sally Yates. But in the long run, we’ll be standing on firm ground, having done the right thing.

As individuals, and as a society, saying “no” will ensure: never again.