There's this question that people always ask: If you could have lunch with anybody, who would it be? I used to have stupid answers because, well, I didn't know. I'd say, "I'd have lunch with Britney Spears so I could ask why she shaved her head!" Or, when I was a middle schooler, "Nick Jonas so I could ask him to marry me!" But I have a new answer. A serious, unwavering, all-jokes-aside answer... and that's Michelle Obama.
This was only solidified after the poignant, emotional speech she recently delivered. The speech was in regards to footage released in which Donald Trump bragged to an interviewer that his fame gave him the power and permission to kiss and touch women without their consent. According to the Washington Post, in the footage, Trump can be heard saying, "I just start kissing them . . . I don't even wait . . . And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything." As if this weren't disturbing enough, Trump went on to add, "Grab them by the p---y. You can do anything."
When I heard this, I thought I might throw up. I think it goes without saying that sexual assault is nothing to joke about. I know a handful of women who have been raped or sexually assaulted who continue to struggle to piece their lives together. To them, Trump's comments are not funny. To all of us who have been grabbed, slapped and offended by the predatory Donald Trumps of the world, those comments are not funny. Rather, they built up inside of me the kind of rage that needs an outlet--the kind that makes you want to scream until the whole world hears you.
But whose voice is big enough to be heard by the entire world? Certainly not mine. As citizens of the United States, our voices are supposed to be represented. Yet, as a woman, it's not often that I feel accurately and honestly spoken for. This may be due to the fact that, according to Rutgers, as of 2016 women make up only 19.4 percent of Congress and only 24.6 percent of the State Legislature.
Reminder: women are half of the United States population. In fact, the U.S. Census proclaims that women make up more than half... 50.8 percent of the population, to be exact. (This begs the question, why are government positions so skewed? But that's a topic for another day.)
My point is, with so few female representatives, our voices are lost. There was plenty of backlash from the public after the footage was released--plenty of voices ensuring that this kind of talk, this kind of mindset, is not okay. I'm glad this was the general consensus, but at one point I realized a majority of the voices I was hearing belonged to men.
Needless to say, I felt that my views were underrepresented. I felt that my voice, my outrage and disappointment, was not being heard. My sense of fear was not being articulated. That is, until Michelle Obama's speech. She began by saying, "It's not something we can just sweep under the rug as just another disturbing footnote in a sad election season . . . It's cruel. It's frightening." She went on to say, "It's that sick, sinking feeling you get when you're walking down the street minding your own business and some guy yells out vulgar words about your body. Or when you see that guy at work that stands just a little too close, stares a little too long, and makes you feel uncomfortable in your own skin."
Finally, I felt truly represented. I'm thankful for the men who defend and respect women, who use their powerful voices to speak on behalf of the underrepresented women in society. But I'm even more thankful for the few women out there, like Michelle Obama, who use their uncommon power and strength to benefit the rest of us whose voices are small. Michelle Obama is someone who has walked in our shoes--who knows what it's like to be catcalled, to be groped and grabbed without consent. This is someone who knows the fear of walking alone--the quickening of your heart, your footsteps--someone who knows what it's like to pass a group of men, to think to yourself, Please don't say anything. Don't do anything. Don't touch me. Leave me alone.
She knows. And that's why I admire her so much--why I'd choose to have lunch with her over anybody else. She's powerful, she's poised and she's respectable. But most importantly, she's brave.