…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.
But is the world we live in. A world where we are constantly told this is normal, we’re over reacting. It’s your fault. A world where men like Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, and other men in positions of power feel entitled to objectify women. A world where this has become so normal, that a man can be accused of rape by many women, including his ex-wives and underage women, and can then “settle” outside of court (which of course includes a non-disclosure agreement, so that these women are silenced), and this doesn’t raise any red flags. A man can brag about sexually assaulting women, moving on them “like a bitch” and not even waiting, just start kissing them, “grab ‘em by the pussy,” and can openly brag about how, as the owner, he could always walk in on naked girls (including underage girls) at beauty pageants and that they couldn’t say anything about it. A man can do all of this, and even admit, on camera, that he’s a sexual predator, and even so, that doesn’t disqualify him from being president.
Do you still not see why this movement is necessary? Why so many women are speaking out and marching? All of the questions we’ve been torturing ourselves with our entire lives… Will anyone believe me? Will anyone care? Is this really our normal?
In the past year, all of these questions were answered definitively for us.
It’s not about politics. It never has been about politics. This has never been a partisan issue, though you wouldn’t know that based on the reports. This is a problem on both sides of the aisle. This is a problem with our society as a whole. This is an issue that affects all women (and yes some men, too). It’s about power. Power over women. Power over their jobs, their finances, their tips, their safety and security. And of course, physical power over women.
I don’t doubt the women’s stories about Harvey Weinstein. Or Bill O’Reilly. Or Bill Cosby. Or Bill Clinton. Or Donald Trump. Or Brock Turner. Or anyone else who has some sort of power over a woman. We all know how men in power behave by now. We all know that “boys will be boys.” We’ve seen it. We’ve been there. We know these women are absolutely telling the truth.
Do you believe them?
Do you believe me?
Did reading this make you uncomfortable?
Maybe it made you uncomfortable because you’ve seen it before. Or done it before. Or maybe it’s because you know that my story isn’t unique. It’s normal.
So now, how do we as a society fix this, so that those who come behind us don’t also learn to think this is normal?
Start here: believe us.