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And most of you, too.
You may have noticed by now the viral trend on social media, in particular, Facebook, in which folks, mainly women are posting as their statuses, "Me, too." Some elaborate on this with the following statement:
If all the people who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote "Me too." as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.
And astoundingly to some is the degree to which sexual assault/harassment has affected so many of the people we know. For me, a significant majority of my female friends and acquaintances have shared this status, some expounding with more specific details of what those experiences were and some not. But, what surprised me was how many of us either shared in our statuses or later in comments, or maybe, like me, simply had that thought, that perhaps we shouldn't share, because what happened to us wasn't bad enough.
Because we know the stories of the worse and the worst. Ask a woman in your life and they will likely be able to identify rape as one of their biggest fears. Fear is consistently on my mind, whenever I walk alone in the evening or at night, or even in broad daylight if I am alone, when I am walking to my car in a parking lot or parking garage, when I notice a stranger who seems to be following me, or is pestering me for my name, and so on and so on. And what makes rape so scary, is that it is so likely.
|Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website here.|
Too many of us know a woman who was raped. I personally know of two that have shared their stories with me, which leads me to believe that I know others who have experienced that trauma, but haven't told me personally. We know them. We hear them. We believe them. We hurt for them.
But that doesn't mean we can't hurt for ourselves too. Any time anyone acts if they have access to your body without permission, anytime an employer or coworker intimidates you with talk about your body or sexual advances, anytime a person engages in a sexual act with you without your expressed consent, it is WRONG. And we know it is, or we did once. But the WRONGNESS gets explained away as bad behavior, or a mistake, or we are being poor sports, or we are such a tease, or they were just kidding, or can't we take a joke, or whatever, and we begin to question....Was it wrong? Am I overreacting? Did I lead them on? Is that just how boys act and are girls just supposed to brush it off?
And we lose that sense of truly knowing what WRONG is when it comes to our bodies and our spirits. OR maybe we don't. Maybe we always know it is WRONG, and yet, we learned early on that it doesn't matter. That people won't believe us or will accuse us of getting it wrong. That they will ask for proof that we can't come up with because to paraphrase Rose McGowan, we ARE the proof. And we give up before we report because we know it won't change anything, except perhaps how we are treated.
And men, I know, you don't have to tell me, Not All Men. I know, or at least logically I know, but when I see that it is practically every woman, you have me questioning how it could possibly be not all men. Maybe you don't perpetrate, but do you believe, do you protect, do you step in, do you speak up?
Because it may not be you, but it is someone you know.
- An adult male manager at a grocery store who tells his 16-year-old female employee that he chose her to polish the chrome in the frozen foods aisle because he really likes to watch her down on her hands and knees.
- That same employee's peer coworker to whom she offers a ride home, but then he leads her on a wild goose chase giving made up directions and refusing to get out of her car, and then grabbing her breasts when she finally stops and demands he gets out.
- That high school friend who makes a bet with others whether or not he can get that girl to sleep with him by the end of the year.
- That high school administrator who calls a high-school senior into his office to complain about her dance team's choreography to her, explaining it was inappropriate for us to have our freshmen's dads' watch their daughters "grind like they were on dildos." (P.S. She reports this to her friends, and we all agree that we shouldn't report to anyone because no one would believe us and it would just get us in trouble.)
- That other high school administrator who calls a different high school senior into his office and threatens her with suspension for "attacking" that aforementioned administrator. Alleged attack occurred at a basketball game when the girl asked him not to touch her when he tried to put his arm around her, and then when he wouldn't comply, she said it again, louder, "Don't touch me."
- That acquaintance from a college communications class who sees that young woman at a party and reaches under her skirt to grope her.
- That sweet old man from church who tells a woman who attends the same gym that he has been watching her and really appreciating the shape of her backside lately, accompanying this statement with hand gestures for added emphasis.
- That man on the street or in a parking lot who comments on a woman's appearance or licks his lips or follows behind her.
It is all those people and more, because those are just a few of the people in my personal experiences. And like so many others, I wasn't sure whether I should type, "Me, too," because I just didn't feel like it was enough when I compare to the awful things that have happened to my friends.
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But any bad thing is too much. And though I have always been fearful of more for myself, I am now a mother of two daughters and instead of that fear tripling, it has instead grown exponentially, compounding daily. So, I am thankful for all the women who knew that sharing those two words honestly, validating their own experiences, gives power to a movement, voices to so many untold stories, awareness to our male counterparts who may have honestly been unaware of the breadth and depth of this problem, and hopefully a spark to change our futures, and our daughters'.