The #MeToo Movement and THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE
We’re hearing left and right about sexual misconduct and abuse on the news. Shock, disbelief, the “how could this be happening today, why is there a lack of tolerance for this, I don’t understand how this could be true,” leaves many scratching their heads. Everyone ought to take hold of that 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 they’ve decided that sort of ugliness shouldn’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, and 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 out on the other side of her personal 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. Please understand 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.