There is a meme going around these here internets called “Me too”. It asks women to speak out and say something about sexual harassment and assault they’ve experienced. The meme asks for no details, only and acknowledgement that these things have happened to show the sheer numbers of women who’ve experienced such things.
I think, at least for some of us, we need to share the details. How can change happen if people aren’t aware of the aberrant behavior? If they don’t hear what actually happens and how it happens, how can it end? How can we teach others to do better if we don’t at a minimum, show them what not to do? If you have a better answer, I am listening.
Without a doubt, this happens to men too. Men tend to be even more silent then women are because they are believed even less often than women are. It happens to everyone, often, and it needs to stop.
My #metoo story:
In elementary school, the boy who chased me on the playground and grabbed me inappropriately multiple times. When I told a teacher and my mom, I was told “oh, it’s how little boys show they like a girl.”
In elementary school when the boy in my 3rd grade class asked me to “give him a blow job” with gestures to illustrate what he meant. My teacher wouldn’t move my seat away from him and the principal didn’t care.
In junior high, the unwanted “hugs” from a boy, who when I told him to stop, told me he was being friendly and I should get over it.
At overnight camp when we had “kissing parties” because that’s what you did whether you wanted to or not.
When I was 15 and I met my soon to be stepmother’s father for the first time and he invited me to “sit in grandpa’s lap” while wiggling his eyebrows and leering.
A multitude of gropings at college parties and bars. Too many to count. This still happens.
My sophomore year of college, the man in the car, in broad daylight, outside the college library, who pulled over to ask me “how much” because he thought I was a prostitute. I was wearing an APhiO sweatshirt, jeans and had my backpack. No, it doesn’t matter what I was wearing, but the fact that I feel I have to tell you how I was dressed speaks volumes about rape culture.
All the men who catcall me while I run. All the men who have ever catcalled me.
“Hey, are you still wit dat baby’s daddy? I hope not, ’cause I’d do you!” in the grocery store parking lot with my infant son.
The guy at the club last year in West Palm Beach who was holding my arm, grinding on me and bit the back of my neck. Even the “I have a boyfriend” line wasn’t enough. I shouldn’t have to say “I have a boyfriend” to try to get someone to stop. No, or stop, should be enough. My 40 something adult female friends who thought it was awesome that a younger guy was hitting on me and who I had to convince to leave the club because they were having fun and didn’t want to go.
Sex with an intimate partner out of obligation, rather then desire. Sex with an intimate partner of a type I did not enjoy, but he did.
The landlord who called me “honey” and “baby” while I was trying to negotiate a commercial lease as he sat on the table and looked down at me in the chair, smiling because I couldn’t possibly negotiate a lease. Needless to say, I didn’t rent the space from him.
There are more, but these are the incidents that spring to mind right off the bat.
Point blank – our society still sees women’s bodies as property and objects and we are treated as such. #metoo shows that in terrifying, depressing, angering detail.
Know that I believe you. Know that you never have to tell me the details and I will believe you if you say #metoo. Know that we can make it better for others by behaving better ourselves and by teaching our children to behave better. Know that we can make it better if we intervene if we see it happening.