Lilah kept refreshing the page, not sure what she was hoping for. “Are you sure you re-enabled the comments section on this sight, Doug?”
“For the last time, yes.”
“I’m sorry. I just – I guess I was expecting it to have gotten more of a reaction by now.”
“Yeah, well, I hate to say I told you so, but -”
“Then don’t. There’s still time.”
Doug sighed, but Lilah ignored him. She didn’t have to wait long:
“This happened to me, too. People threatening, not just me, but my family. The police completely blew it off.”
“Me, too. The site it happened on was also worthless. I complained about every transgression, but nothing ever got done.”
Interspersed between these were more threats, but Lilah didn’t care. She had been expecting those, but it was the other women out there that she had hoped would respond to her story, and they had not let her down. They were already coming forward with their own stories, which Lilah knew was the first step towards mobilizing them.
What Lilah hadn’t been prepared for was for her story to go viral. Her article on the role of rape in television had received plenty of nasty comments, but its reach had remained almost completely limited to the website.
This article got shared again and again and again. It went up on social media where it spread like wildfire. It went into people’s email inboxes. People weren’t just responding to the article, they were spreading the word. Lilah was touched, but it also brought consequences for which she wasn’t sure she was prepared.
“So, you ready to do the talk show run?” Doug said, only half joking. Lilah’s first reaction was elation at the prospect of talking to all those celebrities on their TV shows, but that feeling only lasted a second. It was almost immediately replaced by dread as she realized what that level of attention would mean.
“I don’t think I am,” she said. She was so lost in thought that her voice was just above a whisper and she wasn’t even sure she had said it out loud.
“What do you mean?”
Lilah looked in his direction, but her eyes seemed to look past him as she thought of her folder full of threats. “I’m not sure I can handle the additional exposure.”
“What are you talking about? You’ve done the talk show run before. This wouldn’t be your first rodeo.”
“Not coverage. Exposure. As in, exposed. As in, all those filthy creeps will come out of the woodwork to attack me, and they might not stick to just words this time.”
Doug hesitated before saying, “I thought this was what you wanted.”
Lilah shook her head. “Not this much. I wanted to get people talking. I wanted to mobilize the public. But this is on a completely different level. This is … provocative.”
A smile started to creep across Doug’s face, but it quickly vanished. “I’m guessing you don’t mean the good kind of provocative.”
“No, I mean the kind where certain scumbags see this as an invitation to … do something.”
“Hey,” Doug leaned forward and put a hand on Lilah’s knee. It wasn’t something he normally did, but he also didn’t normally see his coworker this shaken up. “It’s going to be fine. We’ll get you extra protection if you need it, and the fact that people are reacting so strongly to the piece is a good thing. This is how change happens.”
Lilah smiled and took a deep breath to prepare herself for the battle ahead.
To be continued…