Spilling the Beans is Healthy, Though Larry Nassar May Not Agree

USA Gymnastics has been turned upside down these past few weeks and an avalanche of secrets has been shaken out of its pockets.

As I think about the more than 150 women who testified against Lawrence G. Nassar (he does not deserve to be addressed as “Dr.”), I’m going to turn this fable upside down, too.

Nothing weighs as heavily as a secret. To carry one for a long time is difficult for women. And I know in this regard a good number of men who are women.

To test his wife, a man cried out during the night as he lay beside her:

O Lord, what’s happened here? I can’t take it anymore. I’m being torn apart!


I’m laying an egg!

An egg?

Yes, here it is, fresh and freshly laid. Don’t speak of this. They’ll call me chicken. In fact, don’t speak of it at all.

The wife, new to this situation, as well as any number of other matters, believed the thing and promised all the great gods to keep quiet. But this promise faded away with the night’s shadows. The wife, indiscrete and not too smart, got out of bed when the day was barely risen and ran to her neighbour’s.

Dear neighbour, the wife said, something has happened; above all don’t say anything, because you’ll cause me to be beaten … my husband just laid an egg the size of four. In God’s name, be very careful not to let anyone hear of this mystery.

Are you kidding me? Her chatty neighbour said. Ah! You don’t know who I am. Go. Don’t worry about a thing.

The wife’s friend was already burning to share the news. She went to spread it in more than ten places. Instead of one egg, she said three. And that’s not all, because another gossip said four and whispered the story in someone else’s ear; a precaution that was hardly necessary, since it wasn’t a secret anymore.

The number of eggs so grew, thanks to the story’s renown, as it passed from mouth to mouth, that before the end of the day, it had reached more than one hundred.

As much as I love Jean de La Fontaine and his fables, sometimes his 17th century-ness shines through in the wrong way, as here, with its offhand insult to women and their supposed inability to keep secrets. Though to be fair, he does say that many men have the same inability to keep their mouths shut.

If there’s anything this #MeToo moment has shown us, it’s that women can keep secrets.

But wait, what exactly is so great about keeping secrets? When we keep secrets we risk eroding our own authenticity, integrity and honesty. In fact, scientific study suggests we endanger our mental and physical health. To be clear, I’m not talking about discretion, which is a different practice. A friend tells you something private. It’s not your place to spread their information around. Nor is it necessary that we share every intimate detail about our lives (though current social media practices might suggest otherwise in some cases). And surprise parties … I don’t think I need to spell out the exceptions.

You are an intelligent person; you know which secrets weigh and which don’t.

Also, when we keep secrets, often secrets that men tell us to keep, not only is it not to our benefit (see above), but in fact it enables the person to keep on hurting others.

How right that so many women came forward. One egg has grown in size and number to well more than one hundred. The secret has passed and multiplied from woman to woman, bringing the truth to light. As Justice Louis D Brandeis said, sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.

It is high time to disinfect not only gymnastics, but all sports; and not only sports, but every field, from Hollywood to Wall Street, from Ford plants to academia. Filthy men have been allowed to proliferate like a disease. No more secrets is the cure.

What are these Fableogs?

Fable en Français

Tagged in Fable, Jean De La Fontaine, Larry Nassar, Sexual Abuse, Gymnastics

By Mina Samuels on January 26, 2018.

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Exported from Medium on March 17, 2018.



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