“Into the Fire (and Mike Pence’s office?)”

An excerpt from Marginal Eyes, Chapter Five

Outside of my internship, I was also exposed to what felt like a wider culture of DC, riding the Metro every day, engaging in the Georgetown program’s other group activities, and joining social outings with my fellow students. I was unfamiliar with the big city in general, and DC wasn’t a smooth introduction to it. One day, as I stood on the train en route to Capitol Hill from Georgetown, I was sexually assaulted by a slightly older man in his late 20s or early 30s. Dressed in a polished suit, he stepped up to share a metal support pole with me and promptly shoved his briefcase in between my legs, moving it up to my crotch. I wormed my way out of his midst, shaken, as I pushed through other passengers.

Another day, during a social gathering in Georgetown held in the brick courtyard between our residence buildings, many students wandered around drunkenly or made their way downtown to join the nightlife. I shyly turned down an invite to join a group of flirty women heading for the Metro. I also passed by a lonely girl sitting on her building’s stoop who asked if I would like to go upstairs. I was no angel, but there was something eerie, even soulless about banging random strangers for the sake of it.

Yes, we were college-aged. Yes, a US congressional representative’s schedule is often too busy for him to personally respond to notes he gets from constituents. Yes, big cities come with big city types of issues. But I had signed up for a gathering of the future leaders of America, and all of us were attending a program at a prestigious institution, working within some of the most idealistic spaces in the country. Given that, the things I saw and felt were too akin to the repressive religious youth summer camp vibe I knew all too well, where all the content of the programs seem sterile and harmless, when counselors and parents are watching, and then the pendulum swings swiftly into dank and dirty places when the lights go down. It was the same old two-faced bullshit I had come to hate, just on a grander scale.

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