When I was 9 years old, an older man exposed himself & groped* me as I was walking to school with a friend. He was never caught, as far as I know.
In Middle School, I developed…bigly. It was the source of a good deal of discussion between some of the boys, and even some of the girls. Both in private and to my face.
It made me really, really uncomfortable & self conscious.
I wanted to cover up & shrink into the background.
I’m 38 now and I still feel the shame & embarrassment I felt as a 12 year old girl. The names of some of those boys are burned into my memory, and I often look for them online to see what they are like now. Are they terrible people? Are they normal? Do they catcall women as they walk down the street? Do they have daughters? Do they have sons who might learn to mimic their behavior? Do they remember what they did and feel bad? Do they remember what they did and laugh?
In college, there were countless instances where men would “accidentally” brush against me as they walked by.
If you’re a woman in today’s world, chances are incredibly high that you could raise your hand and join the growing chorus of women who are speaking up and sharing their stories of sexual assault & harassment. If you aren’t someone who thinks it applies to you, you are incredibly lucky.
If you’re a man who thinks this doesn’t apply to him, think again.
It happens to men, too.
And it happens BECAUSE of men.
You might not be someone who’s catcalling the girl walking across the street, or the guy who grabs the waitress’ ass as she walks by.
But you might be his friend. You might be her dad. You might be HIS dad.
– We need to teach our boys to be better. They need to grow up with the understanding that women’s bodies aren’t theirs to touch, discuss, ridicule, or objectify.
– Men, if you find out that your friend, sister, mother, etc is a “Me, too,” understand that it’s her story to tell when & if she decides. Publicly admitting “Me, too” is incredibly difficult for some people. Many have never shared their story, and simply admitting they’re included in this terrible club is almost as difficult, if not just as difficult, as dealing with the assaults when they happened.
– There’s absolutely no room for victim blaming.
“She wore a low cut top.”
“She dressed immodestly.” (I’m side-eyeing you, Mayim.)
“She was by herself at night.”
“She was drunk.”
“She didn’t fight back hard enough.”
“She didn’t speak up/report it, so it couldn’t have been that bad.”
“She continued to work with/for him for years!”
None of these “excuses” make it okay for a man to assault or harass a woman. There’s no side to these stories where we should attempt to remove or minimize the blame from these men by placing it on the shoulders of the women who have suffered abuse.
And why would we want to do that? What good does it do to let men get away with this behavior?
As a society, we have to believe that women don’t deserve to be harassed or assaulted, and that men are capable of being around a woman, ANY WOMAN AT ANY TIME, without assaulting her in some way. I just don’t feel like that’s too much to ask.
Ladies – if you publicly shared your “Me, too” know that there are so many of us who love you, support you, and believe you.
And if you couldn’t bring yourself to do it, know that we love, support & believe you, too. We’re here for you if and when you need us.
The tide is turning. The momentum is shifting.
I’m proud of ALL of you.
And I’m proud of me, too.
*He grabbed me by the pussy, as the
POTUS kids are calling it these days