The Oracle

Thank you, DJ Hill

DJ Hill, Hamline Alum ‘17, recently spoke publicly about Joe Biden’s touchy-feeliness at a fundraising event in 2012.

Emily Lazear, Senior Reporter

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When I heard the stories of women’s uncomfortable interactions with the former vice president, Joe Biden – his close talking, his nose rubs, his thigh touching – I could relate. So many moments in my life have been defined by men violating my boundaries.  

I make excuses in my head for men who do not deserve excuses. ‘He’s just a little socially awkward,’ or ‘I don’t want to embarrass him or myself by saying something’ or ‘What if I’m reading this wrong?’

I always feel angry with myself later when it turns out I wasn’t reading it wrong and he says something sexual or threatening. Even when he doesn’t, I feel ashamed that I let a man invade my personal space without saying anything.

When we accuse women of lying about sexual assault or plain old uncomfortable touching because of political or monetary motive, we do a serious injustice to future generations of women.”

Why do I, a hairy-armpitted, outspoken feminist women’s studies major, have so much trouble with the ‘politeness problem’ and ‘shame problem’? I have been through Sexual Violence Advocacy training, I have a tote bag that dons the phrase ‘skin your local rapist,’ I have the skills and knowledge to dismantle the situation and yet something holds me back from using them and I beat myself up because of it.

(I would like to use this space to acknowledge that other people’s actions are never your fault and that what they choose to do to you is on them and them alone.)

Women are socialized to be polite, especially to men, and especially to powerful men. Especially to the vice president. When we accuse women of lying about sexual assault or plain old uncomfortable touching because of political or monetary motive, we do a serious injustice to future generations of women.

I want girls and people of all genders to feel empowered to speak up, to feel safe enough to define their own boundaries and to let people know what those are when they are being violated. I do not want this world to have another generation of women with the ‘politeness problem’ and ‘shame problem’ that I have dealt with. That said, it is not our job as women to navigate our reactions to men’s behavior to suit their egos.

djhill-writer.com

DJ Hill was at a fundraising event in 2012 when the vice president slipped his hand down her back. Other women’s stories involve bizarre behavior including grabbing shoulders and kissing the back of a head and resting his hand on a sexual assault victim’s thigh after hearing her publicly speak about that assault.

I want to thank Hill for speaking up when she was made uncomfortable by a man. For realizing that yes, even if it wasn’t intended to be sexual, it was a weird way for an adult in his position to act.

Despite the backlash from her story, Hill appeared on national news stations and applauded the other women who have come forward, noting the remarkable courage it took to speak up.

We need to praise people like Hill instead of dragging them through the mud. Is it possible for a woman to lie about the misconduct of a man? Absolutely. Does it happen as much as we seem to think it does? Absolutely not.

I was recently at a light-rail stop reading a book when a man started asking me increasingly aggressive questions and getting uncomfortably close when two teenage girls, no older than 16, walked up and stood next to me and asked the man what he was doing. This is a sign that the cultural change Hill called for in her interviews is coming. I am optimistic about the future thanks to women and girls who are increasingly unafraid to trust their feelings and believe in themselves enough to know when something is wrong.

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One Response to “Thank you, DJ Hill”

  1. DJ Hill on May 6th, 2019 12:24 pm

    Good afternoon,

    My sincere thanks to Emily for this well-written, insightful article. You obviously get the gist of this issue and I’m humbled by your support.

    Best wishes on your graduation~

    DJ

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Thank you, DJ Hill