You might think that this headline is a stretch, but anyone who follows best-selling historical romance author Courtney Milan on Twitter knows that she was a clerk for a judge in the aughts who suddenly resigned recently due to post #MeToo testimony of how inappropriate he had been to his female clerks (and that Courtney had been one of those clerks). Since then, she has really taken up the Twitter baton to explain and give insight to the inner workings of D.C.’s judicial realm in this time of Trump, so I expected to find some perspective from Courtney. I found more.
Today’s news that the formerly anonymous woman who had gone to Senator Feinstein with her account of being sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh when they were both teens had decided to go public and gave an interview to the Washington Post, really made it clear that this assault has stayed with her for more than 30 years. The part that really grabbed me was the line “I thought he might inadvertently kill me.” No, you don’t forget something like that.
So I went looking to see if Courtney Milan had any Tweets, and I was surprised to see a thread that read:
“The reason I’m rage-tweeting over this guy is because I want it to be perfectly clear that what this argument is, is that women are not people the way men are.”
I then went on to follow the tweet thread and came across: “ALL I WANT is for sexual assault charges to be handled like EVERY OTHER crime.”
Next tweet “We don’t say “he was asking to be robbed.” We don’t say “he shouldn’t have been drinking if he didn’t want his wallet taken.” We don’t say, “Well, he can’t identify his robber in a lineup because that’s not evidence.”
That really hit home.
Twenty-seven years after the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearing that showed the world that American men have no regard for women unless they follow their rules, and a year after #MeToo has brought the spotlight to the pervasive inequality and daily aggressions toward women in all walks of life, a Professor felt so fearful to come forward against a powerful connected man because she was afraid that we would do the same thing to her that we have done to so many others. And we might, but she still had the courage to come forward putting civic duty before personal safety and pride. That’s a heroine!
The part two to this story belongs to Tessa Dare, another best-selling romance author, who kind of startled me with a her own tale of sexual assault at a young age and how it still resonates in her life. Like Courtney, she had a tweet that really drew my attention:
“The first time you realize sex can be weaponized against you is like a disgusting rite of passage for women. It’s something you don’t forget because you *can’t*, for survival’s sake. Your mind preserves every detail, keeps reminding you—bc your brain’s there to keep you alive.”
When I looked to see exactly what she was writing about, I was stunned to read the following thread (which I reprint here, so as not to dull her words).
Things need to change, and we, as romance writers who are privledged to have voices that others listen to, must be part of that change. Like Courtney and Tessa, we need to tell our truths. Even in our fiction these stories of our truth must make their way into our contempory romances. We must tell the stories of repression and assault in our historical romances too. The only way for us to have real HEAs is to take off the rose-colored glasses and write the future we want, not the past or present we wish we lived in.