By Heidi Stevens Chicago Tribune
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Chanel Miller, previously known as "Jane Doe," shared a powerful poem at this year's Glamour Women of The Year Awards.
Chanel Miller took the stage earlier this week at Glamour magazine's Women of the Year awards, an annual celebration of change-makers and truth-tellers and other folks who inspire and guide us.
This wasn't Miller's year to be honored. Glamour named her a Woman of the Year in 2016, when she was still known as Jane Doe, the anonymous survivor of a rape at Stanford University committed by Brock Turner. At that time, the magazine published a searing essay she wrote about the assault and the infuriatingly short sentence Turner received.
As Glamour feted such recipients as director/producer Ava DuVernay, soccer powerhouse Megan Rapinoe and the women who run Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) in Texas, Miller walked onto the stage at New York's Lincoln Center as a past honoree and delivered a poem.
She wrote it, she said, for the occasion. It deserves to be read far and wide. It deserves to travel beyond that room. It goes like this:
I don't give a damn/ What you were wearing. I don't give a damn how much you drank. I don't give a damn/ If you danced with him earlier in the evening/ If you texted him first/ Or were the one to go back to his place. People may continue to come up with reasons "why it happened." But the truth is, I don't give a damn. But I do/ give a damn/ How you're doing. I give a damn about you being OK. I give a damn if you're being blamed for the hurt you were handed/ If you're being made to believe you're deserving of pain. The only reason I am standing here/ Is because people gave a damn about my well-being. Even when I did not. They reminded me that I carry light/ and I deserve to be loved. Even when I forgot. They gave a damn. That's why I am who I am today. So here's the takeaway. When we step up for survivors/ when we stop sealing them off in shame. When we quit interrogating them with stupid questions. Look what happens. Books are written, laws are changed. We remember we were born to create/ To not only survive, but look hot and celebrate. Tonight you must come away knowing/ That I will always, always give a damn about you. The way you gave a damn about me.
Miller continues to serve as a North Star as we fumble toward a better way of listening to survivors and believing survivors, as we search for an effective way of dismantling the systems and the messages that prop up rape culture, as we sustain the conversations about power and consent that were launched by the #MeToo movement.
Anyone in a position to receive, at some point, a rape victim's testimony, first responders, nurses, doctors, lawyers, judges, friends, mothers, fathers, sisters, partners, parents, friends, all of us, in other words, should read and internalize Miller's words.
Heck, anyone in a position to witness and help hold anyone's trauma should read and internalize her words.
The only reason I am standing here/ Is because people gave a damn about my well-being.
Even when I did not.
They reminded me that I carry light/ and I deserve to be loved.
Even when I forgot.
Powerful stuff. I find myself, once again, in awe of/grateful for Miller's guidance, generously and gracefully delivered out of the most brutal of circumstances. ___ Join the Heidi Stevens Balancing Act Facebook group, where she continues the conversation around her columns and hosts occasional live chats. ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.