Me too…. obviously.

Me too.

…obviously, me too.

While all of my friends have been posting their #metoo statuses over the past few days, I’ve found myself unable to process what I was feeling. I knew this happened to all women, it wasn’t surprising. But I was confused, angry, sad. I wanted to say me too. I felt I needed to say me too. I think it’s important to say it, to speak up. If for no other reason than that so women know they aren’t alone. And we need to draw attention to a major problem in our society. We need to fix this.

But for some reason, like so many other women, I couldn’t find the words. I couldn’t simply say “me too” without adding the disclaimer that others have been through worse. Without second guessing myself. Was I somehow asking for it? Does that even count? Will anyone believe me?  What if this just gets twisted into another political argument with two sides so that we all fight each other instead of talk about the actual problem? Is it even worth discussing, knowing that this movement will likely be hijacked and given a divisive label, so that people know which side they should be on and who to hate?

Will anyone even care?

This has been a topic of discussion with nearly every woman I’ve talked to over the past few days, though none of us really want to talk about it. We are all questioning ourselves. But at the same time, we are boldly sharing our stories with our friends, exposing our scars, and confidently telling each other, “that was absolutely not okay,” “that should have never happened,” and “yes, that definitely counts.”

These were the answers to our own questions too, of course. But we are constantly taught, both directly and indirectly, that boys will be boys and it’s up to us to stop them from touching, drugging or raping us. So much so that we even start to question and doubt ourselves when these things happen to us. We ask ourselves what we did wrong.

The way the stories are told – there is always some reason to blame the victim, some way to make it their fault, some way they could have prevented it.

Why did you let him buy you a drink? Why did you let him take you to dinner if you weren’t planning on spending the night? But you had sex with him before, how was he supposed to know that it wasn’t okay now? Why did you let yourself get drunk? Why were you wearing that dress if you didn’t want that kind of attention? Why did you get in the car with him? Why were you walking home by yourself after dark?

We are asked these questions as if the obvious consequence of any of these actions is rape. And so, naturally, we can only blame ourselves, because they’re right – if we hadn’t agreed to go out with them, they couldn’t have raped us. And if we hadn’t let them buy us a drink, they couldn’t have drugged us. And if we could just make sure that we’re home before dark every night…

 

Over the past few days, I’ve become more and more horrified as I’ve come to the slow realization that apparently many men didn’t know it was this bad. Or they’re claiming not to have known. They’re condemning the men who do this, implying that they themselves have not participated, that they’re one of the “good guys.” Similar to all those celebrities who said they had no idea Harvey Weinstein had done any of that. We all knew that was bullshit. But now we are seeing the exact same thing play out on our social media feeds, men all over the world saying, “that’s horrible, I had no idea!”

I’m calling BS. You knew it happened. You’d heard the statistics. You’ve seen it happen, witnessed it, discussed it in the locker room, and didn’t speak up against it. You’ve either been an active participant or have observed it from the sidelines. But now…. now you are completely shocked by the number of women saying me too?

I was not shocked. I highly doubt any woman was shocked. I would be more surprised if there was a woman in my life who hasn’t experienced this. What is shocking to me is the number of men who say they had no idea it was such a problem. And the fact that now women are having to relive their trauma, put themselves in a vulnerable situation again, be made to feel uncomfortable–in order to prove, at a global level, that we are not lying, and we did not ask for this. In hopes that maybe if men see that this actually affects real women in their lives, women that they actually know, they’ll start taking it seriously.

If nothing else, they can no longer say that they had no idea.

So my story… since we’re doing this….

(Warning… stop reading if you don’t want to read real accounts about sexual harassment and assault. This will likely be uncomfortable for people who know me personally. But we as women have been made to feel uncomfortable for far too long. And I’m done staying silent.)

Continue reading

Science Outside the Lab in Our Nation’s Capital

I arrived at Northwestern with a passion for women’s health research, along with a vision for increasing scientific literacy, improving upon science communication, and engaging more women in science. Over the past few years, my vision has become more focused. I hope to work at both a local and national level to improve healthcare for women in a world where reproductive science is often disregarded, to the detriment of women nationwide.

My goal is to combine my expertise in women’s health and reproductive science, and my communications skills, to inform policy that affects women. In the past I’ve always said, “we need more women in policy,” or “we need more scientists in policy,” and now I know I am that woman. I am that scientist. We all should be.

This is why I’m so excited to have the opportunity to learn more about science policy from the decision makers themselves. Continue reading

This is what a scientist looks like…

The March for Science was a huge success! All over the country people stood up to say that facts and evidence matter. Unfortunately, scientists can’t afford to remain in the background anymore. We must reach out to the public, we must help them to understand, and make scientific data more accessible. Today, Chicago proved we are the science city, with more marchers than even DC had, and incredible attendance at the expo after. While I didn’t get to march due to setting up the Woodruff lab booth, I did get to talk to so many people about science! People from all ages stopped by to discuss some of the current projects in the Woodruff and Laronda labs. Continue reading

Meet Evatar: The Mother of Microhumans

She’s innovative. She’s three-dimensional. She’s made out of human cells. She has a functional reproductive tract that includes an ovaryfallopian tubeuterus and cervix. She also has a liver, and the channels necessary to pump nutrients between her organs. She produces and responds to hormones, and has a normal 28-day hormone cycle. She can metabolize drugs. She can tell you how a drug may affect fertility in women, or if it is toxic to the liver. And she fits in the palm of your hand. She’s the future of drug testing in women and personalized medicine, and her name is Evatar. Just as Eve is thought to be the mother of all humans, Evatar is the mother of all microHumans. Continue reading

Stepping away from the bench to discuss communication strategies

I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to discuss strategies for communicating reproductive science (and science in general) to a doubtful world with the Northwestern University MS Health Communication students yesterday. What a great program! I couldn’t have asked for a more receptive and engaged audience. I’m really hoping to be able to collaborate with some of these students in the future and bring some of our ideas together. It was so refreshing to step away from the bench work and academic research based talks that I’m used to giving, to discuss something equally important in the scientific community.

Many Americans have never met a scientist…we need to fix that

This is something I’ve been passionate about for a while. The general public is misinformed about a lot of scientific issues, but we really only have ourselves to blame. Our work is not over once we publish in an academic journal, we must also be vigilant about communicating our findings with the general public, in a way they can understand. We as scientists tend to surround ourselves with other scientists, both at work and outside of work, and it becomes all too easy to just ignore the anti-science propaganda, to roll our eyes and walk away from the pseudoscience. We have to do better than that. It’s a skill that doesn’t come naturally to many of us, but it’s a skill that we can learn, and we owe it to the general public – the tax payers who fund our research. Academics tend to adopt the mantra, “we must never stop learning,” but just as we must never stop learning, we must also never stop teaching.

https://www.statnews.com/2017/02/07/scientist-march-trump/

 

Why I marched, and will continue to march

March

Today I marched in solidarity with women all over the world who are standing up for their rights.

I did not march because my candidate didn’t win, or because I thought it would change the results of the election. I did not march due to differences in political opinions. I did not march because I’m “whining,” or “a special snowflake,” or a “crying libtard,” or any of the other oh-so-original and so eloquently stated insults that have been thrown at us (generally by the same people who lecture about how we all need to unite).

This is bigger than a difference in political opinion.

Today I marched for equal rights for women everywhere. I marched because I’m in a male dominated field, and have personally experienced sexism and misogyny, as have so many of my female colleagues. Continue reading