So there I was, accessing for the first time in a very long time my old hotmail.com email account, when what should I find side by side in that neglected inbox but two emails which referenced two disparate phenomena to which I am directly linked. Little did I know that this coincidence would throw me into the worst moral quandary I've faced forever.
The first phenomenon in the coincidence is Kelly Oxford. Oxford is a best-selling author and the wry belle of the ball on Twitter. She has 765,000 followers!
The way in which I am linked to Oxford is this: when her book Everything is Perfect When You're a Liar was just about to come out, I was given an advance review copy by Edelweiss. I wrote a lengthy, mostly positive review which Edelweiss chose to feature.
But wait - there's more. When Oxford caught wind, she actually tweeted a link to my little Weebly hobby blog site where I had tacked up the review. I hadn't expected that to happen!
Suddenly my site had traffic. And I mean TRAFFIC. It was a real thrill.
The point is that she's significant to me in a big way.
Another significant phenomenon in my life is Indiana University, where I took my B.A. in English. Not only was IU my undergraduate stomping ground, but now, two decades later, I live just spitting distance away. Same little city. Moved back here after teaching ESL in Asia for 5 years.
So as I started out by saying, these two separate phenomena in my life were coincidentally combined as I scanned my hotmail inbox.
It all plays out like this: incensed by Trump's misogyny, Oxford tweeted for women everywhere to come forth with personal anecdotes involving sexually assault. Immediately, apparently, she found herself on the receiving end of the most harrowing of messages from wronged women - at the rate of about 50 messages per minute - and this barrage continued all day. If you use twitter, you can search the "@kellyoxford #NotOkay timeline" to see for yourself. It's like an avalanche.
This is where Indiana University comes into play. When the good folks in the offices of the IU student newspaper learned of #NotOkay, they launched an initiative parallel to Oxford's. They called for their readers to send them sexual assault stories, and by way of spearheading the initiative, the Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor and others came forth publicly with details of terrible, unacceptable incidents from their own experience.
The news article (attributed to FOX59 WEB and Zach Myers) calls the groundswell of responses to IU's call to arms against sexual assault "overwhelming" and goes on to report a statement issued by Indiana University spokesperson Margie Smith-Simmons:
"Education is an important way of increasing public awareness around issues related to sexual violence and assault. Indiana University is committed to the safety and well-being of all members of the IU community and strongly encourages students and employees to report any incident of sexual misconduct or sexual assault..."
The incidence of sexual assault here in Bloomington, Indiana is egregious. According to the article, "In 2014 and 2015, 61 rapes were reported on and off the Bloomington campus."
Now, this is the second post I have put together about #NotOkay and Oxford and IU. The first was for my Wordpress blog, and after publishing it, I realized that I wanted Oxford to read it. So I tweeted her a little abstract of and link to my post.
Only after I had sent the tweet did I realize that if she got it in her head to retweet, her hordes would doubtless descend again upon me. And only AFTER THAT did it dawn on me that should that occur, I would effectively be cashing in on #NotOkay and the violation of women everywhere.
The idea is to raise awareness of travesty of justice, and here I am blabbering about book reviews and blogs and standing at least a hair of a chance of gaining an inordinate amount of new readers, new followers...
Is it always this way with writing about atrocity? If the writing is successful, then one arguably advances on the backs of those who have suffered?
Perhaps P should be for petty, or pusillanimous. At the moment, I am just struggling not to be too hard on myself about having tweeted Oxford. I've experienced a passably startling coincidence which has hurled me onto treacherous ground. I'm merely trying to keep my feet under me, my head up, and my heart in the right place.
Maybe P should be for pray.