…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.)