The #MeToo Movement and THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE

The news has been filled with stories of sexual abuse, and it seems every day there’s a new accusation.  Having written THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE, it only seems fitting I should say something.  Actually, I feel compelled to speak out about it.  Here are some eye opening statistics, but, what makes them even more alarming, only about thirty percent of abuse cases are reported.  (U.S. Department of Justice National Sex Offender Website – NSOPW)

We’re hearing left and right about all of this sexual misconduct and abuse on the news, while shock, disbelief, the “how could this be happening today, isn’t there a lack of tolerance for this, I don’t understand how this could be true,” seems to leave many scratching their heads. Everyone ought to take hold of their shock and disbelief, because what we’re hearing right now doesn’t even begin to hardly scratch the surface of what is going on, and has been, for a *long time.

*Long time = since earth became inhabited with humans.

I think some women don’t want to talk about it, they want to forget and move on.  I think some do, but are afraid of destroying the lives they’ve put together for themselves, the carefully arranged existence where that sort of ugliness doesn’t get a moment’s notice.  Ignore it, just pretend it didn’t happen.  Then, there are the children, like Dixie Dupree.  Why don’t they tell?  We hear from Aly Raisman, and how she questions “…what about the culture? What did USA Gymnastics do, and Larry Nassar do, to manipulate these girls so much that they are so afraid to speak up?”  That’s the crux of the issue, and a significant rational for how my character, Dixie Dupree, was thinking, i.e. the fear of not being believed.  This is the number one reason children don’t speak up.  For the older victims, it could be the fear of ruining what they’ve accomplished, for stirring the pot, or just the sheer magnitude of facing the backlash, the reactions, and yes, likely the disbelief.  I’m sure they consider how accusing someone held in high esteem, or with enough money, could ruin well-earned careers. There are likely as many reasons for not bringing it up as there are victims.  Million of reasons.  Some have stood up against it.  Some have paid for doing so, too.

Which brings me to…me.  Write what you know, “they” say.  THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE is not a hidden memoir.  My parents were lovingly married for almost sixty years.  My father did not drink.  My mother was from the north, and while she did feel a bit isolated at times and out of place, I remember many a happy weekend spent at my aunt’s and uncle’s homes with my cousins, where my parents and relatives drank coffee and played gin rummy till late at night.  Yet, I did have an uncle who did things he should not have through my third and fourth grade years when I was eight to nine years old.  I did not tell my mother.  I told no one.  Why?  Because he told me not to, “it’s our secret.  You’ll be in big trouble if you tell.”  This took place in Michigan.  The best thing to happen?  We moved back home to North Carolina.  I don’t recall thinking much about him after we left.  Time passed.  I finished school, went to work, got married, had two children, divorced, and remarried again later in life.  I rarely, if ever, thought about what happened.

Then I read ELLEN FOSTER and BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA.  I was suddenly itching to write a similar story, in my own way.  I finally had the chance and my way was to tell a horrific story about “a spirited young girl who must survive the unthinkable in 1969 Alabama,” yet comes through her hell all right.  What do I mean by all right?  That despite her age, she was strong and resilient, that she understood what happened to her was wrong, but that she wasn’t to blame, and that she could be happy again, despite what occurred.

Now, I’ve had some readers upset with this notion.  They don’t like my Author’s Note, how I suggest therapy isn’t always necessary for these children.  I didn’t pull that out of the sky.  It’s a fact, and is reported here, on the U. S. Department of Justice, National Sex Offender Public Website and states specifically the following, “Not all sexually abused children exhibit symptoms—some estimate that up to 40% of sexually abused children are asymptomatic; however, others experience serious and long-standing consequences. 1″

I’ll use myself as an example.  I never told anyone until I wrote my debut, and then it was my husband, almost fifty years after it happened.  I eventually told my mother too.  She said, “I knew it!  That son-of-a bitch!”  What happened to me, far as I’m concerned, happened, and I can’t do anything about it except write the story I did, and share a different sort of hopeful outcome for one abused little girl, and maybe offering a sense of “you’re okay,” to a reader who might be just like me.  Like I said in a brief online exchange on Facebook when I plopped the #MeToo on my status, he’s gone and I’m here. Yes.  I’m a statistic not counted.  It’s something that happened, but I’m not ashamed of it, nor have I let it control who I am or what I want to do.

If anything, what happened to me was the catalyst for my writing, and that perhaps, in of itself, was the therapy I needed. 

 

 

 

 


COMMENTS

  • lilacshoshanwp

    November 11, 2017

    Reply

    You can’t imagine how sorry I am you had to go through this, Donna! 🙁 And yes. It happened to me too, so many times, by so many men. Mostly in the army. But the first time was way before that. And unfortunately, for women, it never completely stops. Vague or not, the threat is always present. I believe we make a difference when we write and talk about it. I write about it in my novel, too. In fact, it’s almost always there when I write.

    Like you, I’m not ashamed of it. Let the predators feel ashamed — not us.

    My greatest prayer is that sexual violence, sexual assault and sexual harassment will cease to exist.

    <3 <3 <3

    • Donna Everhart

      November 11, 2017

      Reply

      It dawned on me (blame the past couple months) that I had The Book for the times – so to speak. It’s not the only one…there are many. Yours, I’m sure will be one as well. It’s part of what we write, and maybe most importantly, why we write. I know what you mean about the threat…even on FB lately, these men come out of the woodwork trying to exploit a female.

      I too, am sorry you had to go through it! How sad. ‘m sorry to say I doubt the predators ever feel the shame they should.

      Yours is an important prayer, and I pray for that same thing too. <3 <3 <3

  • MA Hudson

    November 11, 2017

    Reply

    This is such a thoughtful, well articulated post, Donna. I’ve started to write out a comment about a hundred times and then stopped, too angry. I don’t know how these bastards live with themselves. The entitlement they feel must be extraordinary.
    I applaud you for covering this topic in your fiction too. As for me, I write about a fantasy world where sexual abuse isn’t possible – perhaps the least believable world building ever!

    • Donna Everhart

      November 12, 2017

      Reply

      Thank you, MA! It is something that makes a lot of people angry…me included, especially about when “they’re seeking treatment,” becomes the “norm” for how the molesters handle being caught. “I’m not doing well, guys, I’m not doing well at all,” claims Mr. Weinstein. So disingenuous. The only reason he’s not doing well is cause he got caught. Then Kevin Spacey. “Seeking treatment.” ONLY NOW – because he was caught. Grrr!

      Writing DIXIE DUPREE, IMO, lends a bit of closure to a disgusting thing that happened decades ago. I don’t blame you for writing fantasy – it’s got to be the BEST writing there is when our own world seems to be going to hell in a hand basket!

  • Eldonna Edwards

    November 12, 2017

    Reply

    I was never molested so it would be presumptuous for me to claim that I know how you feel. I don’t. But I feel you, Donna. I’ve seen body parts that I did not ask to see and absolutely did not want to see. I was fortunate to extricate myself from a potentially horrific encounter, as were my six year-old sister and my nine-year-old daughter when a man exposed himself to them. Many of my friends, including male friends, have been inappropriately touched and/or assaulted both as children and adults. In my experience, the creeps don’t claim contrition until and unless they are caught. I don’t know that we will ever stop this behavior completely, but the more often the perpetrators are held accountable, the more victims will speak up. I can only imagine all those predators shaking in their cowardly boots right now, hoping against hope that their victim(s) will stay quiet. Thank you for this timely conversation. As you know, I loved Dixie and I adore you. There is no right or wrong way to deal with the unthinkable, only the coping mechanisms within our immediate reach.

    • Donna Everhart

      November 14, 2017

      Reply

      Thank you for that, Eldonna. My brother was almost molested too – he was fifteen, I think. So, we definitely ought not exclude the boys, cause it sure happens to them too.

      Your encounters sound scary and I’m glad you all were able to get away. And yes, this is exactly what is playing out now on TV. CAUGHT! Then those “creeps” become all contrite and apologetic – you could almost call that a “coping” mechanism, meaning they’re simply trying to extricate themselves from a sticky situation and not have it mess up the good thing they had going. And I appreciate your last sentence in particular…the hard core stance some take when reviewing the book, as if therapy was/is THE ONLY WAY it could be handled. It isn’t. Considering stats out there, there are a LOT of people who’ve been sexually abused who are functioning, capable adults. But. You get that.

  • Craig

    November 12, 2017

    Reply

    Oh, my dear Donna, if I had the words to fix things I would grant them to you. I don’t. I am happy you are comfortable and strong enough to announce what happened to you. I am sorry that it happened, not just to you but to all it has happened to, female and male.

    Since I , at times, feel like a dinosaur and have studied history, I know that it has happened since Mog and Og first faced off across the water hole. I don’t know if the percentages have changed over the years but I think it has gotten better recently. Perhaps times really are changing. I hope. I am glad for this platform and hope it isn’t a passing fancy. I also know that if this platform fails it might be a worse problem for a while. There is always a reaction and there are always guys, and women, who do such things.

    As far as Hollywood goes, the whole system is built on it. The setup will always create some new monster created by some feel good movie and there will always be another crops of wide eyed Kansas girls stepping off of the bus.

    To all of you who have strong feelings on this, please, please, please keep it going until we can get a president that can at least understand the suffering of others.

    • Donna Everhart

      November 14, 2017

      Reply

      I feel like with any crime, i.e.. stealing, murder, what have you, those will never be gone, and neither will sexual abuse. It might improve, just like murder rates dropping, but I can’t see it ever being eliminated. That said, the more who speak up if it happens, that might just be enough of a deterrent to make someone who’s thinking about it, think twice.

      And yes, Hollywood is a cesspool of it, apparently.

      And then, the other day, I did a double take when I saw the scrolling feed at the bottom of the TV screen say something about the former President Bush (George H.W.Bush) touched a couple females inappropriately back in the early 2000s while taking a photo with them. I was like WHAT??? Is there anyone left who hasn’t done something? Good. Grief.


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