Home General Assembly Video: Del. Jackie Glass (D-Norfolk) – “I want them to feel uncomfortable…I...

Video: Del. Jackie Glass (D-Norfolk) – “I want them to feel uncomfortable…I want them to know and feel like we all know, because there are women choking, holding water [for each other]”

"Just as black culture has 'the talk' and we have 'the nod', women in these cultures and these institutions have the brief stare, the fake smile..."

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See below for video of Del. Jackie Glass (D-Norfolk)’s powerful speech earlier today on the Virginia House of Delegates floor. It takes courage to do something like this – and it’s well worth watching/listening to and thinking about.

“Gratitude Mr. Speaker. I do want to, before I begin my point of personal privilege, put a disclaimer on it. So if you or anyone in this body are watching has had any experience with sexual trauma, that this is probably a space where you want to take a
breather.

Mr. Speaker, do you remember when you were in the Navy and they had us do those safety briefs before we went on liberty? Like you were an officer, so you probably didn’t have to do all of that.
But I often times had to give junior sailors a very simple
message – don’t do stupid anal excrement while you’re out there…After years of experience in doing these safety briefs, I started doing a very special brief just for the women. And that message too was simple – choose your liberty buddy wisely;
respect is a minimum; and try not to become one in three. If you become one in three, please feel comfortable talking to me as a member of this one in three. It was the best that I could do, Mr. Speaker, other than keeping them on the ship or myself being their liberty buddy.

So you imagine my surprise walking away from that environment some years ago as a junior legislator when I joined this body and I was given a safety brief. I was told who not to go drink with, who not to be alone with and who to just watch out for. I don’t think you got that brief. And that kind of angered me, when other grown women in this body feel the need to show up for each other in that way because of their personal experience, because of the things they’ve witnessed or the things that they’ve just been told. This, Mr. Speaker, is inevitably a part of women’s history – women have to hold this water for each other. And I don’t know if you’ve ever tried holding water in your mouth you try to have a conversation trying to be in a moment. It can be very difficult. You either spill some on yourself, you might even choke on it, or you just swallow it. And that’s what it’s like sometimes, what it was like for me sometimes being a member in the military and sometimes in this body as well.

Just as black culture has ‘the talk’ and we have ‘the nod’, women in these cultures and these institutions have the brief stare, the fake smile, the look of lean in a little bit closer to make sure she’s good. Because we have to watch our sisters and our friends interact with these people and smile with them. Mr. Speaker, becoming one in three for me, joining the military was almost a given…it unfortunately it is a part of that culture in one way or another. I actually became that statistic in high school where this guy, I fought him like hell, let’s just put it that way. And got bad advice from a friend to go back and have a conversation with him, and he did it again. I did not fight. I reported and it was horrible; it was one of the worst  experiences of my life. Slander. I lost friends, I lost opportunities, which led me to the military actually, that was my plan D.

And within being in the Navy for a year, it happened again. And the audacity of the sailor that did it, to go to my friend who was another man and apologize to him and ask him to relay the message. I think about what kind of person, what kind of people would think that is okay to go to another man and say, I’m sorry for what I did to your sister, can you apologize for me? It is wild. It is these things Mr. Speaker that has grown my empathy muscle for why people, and I didn’t report, let me just say that I did not report that, I wanted to move on with my life. Because I knew what it meant to get involved in a case.

It is these experiences that have helped me grow my empathy muscles for why people choose to hold water, why they don’t just spit it out in some of these folks’ face. And also empathy for the men among us who too hold water. Mr. Speaker, just about every woman that I talked to both whether they were in the legislature or just friends, I said hey, I’m going to do this speech, it’s on my heart…I’m struggling with it, I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do, but I don’t think I could be here another year without saying it. And each of those women asked me two questions…the first question I got from several women was can you at least say something to the guys in the space that are not the problem, because we don’t want them all to think that they’re the problem – can you at least do that. And I think about my brother Perry who was told to apologize to me; he wasn’t the problem, he was holding water for me.

The second thing they asked is like, Jackie, what do you want…to get out of this? And that was a long hard conversation with self. Mr. Speaker, I want them to feel uncomfortable. I want to transfer power. I want them to know and feel like we all know, because they are women choking, holding water. Secondly, Mr. Speaker, I actually just want for Payton and Zahara our daughters to be safe, to be supported and not lose their sense of love. I don’t want them to struggle with emotional or personal or sexual relationships with a partner if they so choose that route.

Because I am 23 years down the road from my first instance, with a partner I’ve been with for 19 years, and I struggle. I struggle with triggers like don’t wake me up a certain way, no small digital clocks, I can’t do heavy rain, when I get on my cycle it’s a problem. Carpet, cable boxes, apologies – all triggers. And so the power move that these men made, while it may have been a small moment in time, it is significant and lasting on my life, just as it is for these women that I hold water for.

And so my ask I guess today is that we need more accomplices, not enablers and not predators. I feel complicit sometimes Mr. Speaker for some of the things that I know. And as we get more women in this body, or I think about right now being the only woman in the legislature that has served in the military and why that has been on my heart of just having someone to share those experiences with and not feeling like it’s a point of pride because I’m looking for somebody to connect with. I think about why would I ask them to come here, why would I ask them to be a part of this this institution. Especially when we Virginia, the Commonwealth, has the highest number of women’s veterans in the entire world.

I think about the safety briefing and the water I hold. And so I pray, Mr. Speaker, that as we get a historic number of women and we continue to get historic numbers of women in the space, that it is a difference maker, that these things, the holding of water is our past, it is our present, but it really shifts in our future.

Lastly, Mr. Speaker, I do want to express gratitude for the men and women who get it right, who can tell inappropriate jokes cuz I got a lot of them…I pray that we make them collectively feel uncomfortable in this body, Mr. Speaker. And I appreciate this point of personal privilege. Gratitude, Mr. Speaker.”

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