As I raise my hand to claim “me too”, I’m faced with a society asking who is to blame for the Weinstein situation? Obviously, Harvey Weinstein is a piece of shit and is to blame for his own actions but what about the society we live in that feels it’s okay to objectify little girls and rape women with no ramifications? How do we expect our girls to be safe when we let our boys get away with sexual harassment simply because someone in history said “boys will be boys” and that means girls need to live on the defensive while boys just get to live. When do women get to be people too? Are you angry and done with this attitude?
Last night, there was a call for women to set their statuses to #MeToo if they have ever been sexually assaulted or harassed. I don’t know a single woman who didn’t set her status to Me Too! It made me sad. It made me mad and it made me feel not alone but utterly shattered that I am not the minority because what does that mean for my girls? Who is protecting our girls?
Sexual harassment is a disease and we apparently all have it. It’s like the moment you were born with a vagina, you were assured that you were going to be assaulted. Thankfully, they don’t tell you that or many of us would have looked for a way out a long time ago or our mothers would have mercifully drowned us at birth.
We live in a society that grooms women to be victims. We don’t intentionally let these horrific things happen to us. Women live a society that has completely failed us. We are taught that creepy guys are just misunderstood but harmless. We give them the benefit of the doubt because it was only a dick pic, it wasn’t his actual dick in my face. But wasn’t it? Weren’t you just as violated? The only thing missing was the imminent fear that his dick would be in y our body.
We live in a world where we are taught from a very young age to live on the defensive. It’s our job not to get raped or be abused by a sexual predator. It’s our responsibility to make sure that we keep ourselves hidden away and safe from men and their “natural” urges. We are taught to walk a little faster, cover up, not enjoy sex and steer clear of any situation that might put us in danger which boils down to our sheer existence.
It’s not all men though. My husband was appalled when I talked to him about this situation. But he also has no understanding of what it is like to be a woman. How lucky he is. How nice it is to be able to live a life where you can walk down the streets and never worry about someone attacking you from behind, pulling you behind the bushes and raping you.
What a utopia it must be to live in a world where no one will ever corner you in a room and threaten to have his way with you. No one will ever break into your apartment while you sleep and take what is not his.
The first time I can remember being assaulted, I was 4-years-old, a little boy in my kindergarten class wanted to steal a kiss under the parachute during gym class. It may sound innocent and sweet but I didn’t want it. He took what was mine without asking. I cried. I was mad. I told on him. The gym teacher laughed, “Awww, Debbie he likes you. Boys will be boys.” Nothing was said to him. The onus fell on me. That was it. It was my problem. Get over it. That began a lifetime of knowing that the responsibility fell on me to protect myself and if something bad happened to me, then I must not have done a good enough job.
When I was 7-years-old, a teenaged boy (a family friend) repeatedly groped me at a family party and told me if I ever told anyone they would blame me for being such a “slut”.
In 4th grade, Andre pushed himself against me and kissed me hard, just as everyone was walking into the classroom after recess. Everyone saw, so not only did he take what he wasn’t given permission to take, he embarrassed me in front of the entire class. The teacher and all the students laughed. What could I do?
In 6th school, my art teacher used to come over when I was working on a project and take his hand and massage my neck while telling me how “spectacular” my artwork was. He was a grown man and his hands always found their way to my breast buds. I pulled forward to escape his grip, he grabbed me harder. This was done almost every art class for 3 years.
In 7th grade, walking home through a field, a high school boy exposed himself to my friend and I. We were in shock. We were terrified. He thought it was hilarious. I never wanted to walk home again.
When I was 18, working at a retail chain and the security guys called me back into the security room. I thought they needed a female employee as a witness as they questioned a suspected female shoplifter because that was protocol. Instead, when I got back there at 9 at night, when we were working on a skeleton crew, the two grown men, locked the door and started making comments on how I looked in my uniform. They told me that they liked watching me on the cameras and told me to my face, as they laughed, “You know we could do anything we wanted to you in here and no one would even hear us.” I was trembling I was so terrified.
Once, I was visiting a friend and I’d met a guy who was visiting her boyfriend, after a night of drinking and hanging out, I woke up to feel him pressed up against me and kissing me. I pushed him off but by the time I had woken up, he’d already been touching my body. I don’t know for how long, I was passed out. But I didn’t do anything about it because I felt partially responsible because earlier that night I had smiled when he sang a song to me. Even though there was no consent and no making out before I passed out, I felt responsible for letting myself get into this vulnerable position because that is how this society has conditioned women to believe. If we are assaulted, we must have done something to encourage it.
Or the time I was at a frat party and a group of brothers from another university came to the party. I was a little sister at the fraternity, so I was comfortable and even felt safe at the house. A cute walkout started talking to me and one thing led to another, the flirting was in high gear and then in the middle of a room full of people, he pushed my head into his lap. I was drinking but that sobered me up immediately. I felt vulnerable, threatened (in a room full of guys) and angry. Luckily, the president of the frat (a friend of mine) saw the whole thing happen and literally, kicked the guy out of the house. Of course, then he spent the night “comforting” me. I let him because I felt like I owed him. I didn’t want his advances but it felt safer than some stranger shoving my face in his crotch and becoming an unwilling participant in a gang rape.
Then there was the time I was at a college bar with my friends and the star basketball player came up behind me and started grinding on me. I gently moved away. He followed in pursuit. Then he came in front of me, grabbed me by my ass and lifted me up around his waist and started trying to kiss me. No one did anything. I was terrified. I didn’t want his advances. I did not invite him to do any of this. I was minding my own business. No one helped me. I wiggled myself out of his grip and ran out of the bar. When a friend found me outside, she did not care if I was alright or if I was shaken. Her question was, “Don’t you know who that was?”
How about the time I was at a cop party with my friend and a married cop tried to make advances towards me and when I said no because he was married (and I wasn’t interested) he told me that I should think twice before driving alone in his city ever again because he could pull me over late at night on a dark road and it wouldn’t matter if I was interested or not.
Or the time I broke up with a boyfriend, I hadn’t had sex with because I was still a virgin. He had spent the entire time we were dating dry humping me, slowly trying to expose himself. I felt like he was a child that I had to keep telling no. He was much bigger than me. I always felt threatened. He saw me out after we broke up and said he wanted to talk to me in private and apologize for being a jerk when we broke up. I was naïve, I went to his car with him. He exposed himself to me and said, “Try it. You’ll like it.” If I wouldn’t have pulled my knee up and hit him in the groin, he would have raped me and he thought he was doing me a favor. As I got out of the car and ran, he screamed after me, “Slut! Cock tease!”
I am sad angry and even in recounting these events (and there are so many more and so many worse that I can’t bring myself to share with you yet) I feel helpless, ashamed and on the verge of having a full out sob fest, right here in fucking Starbucks and that makes me unbelievably mad.
I’m trying to use my words but the problem is that I’m angry and I’m sick of the world giving men hall passes for rape, attempted rape, pressing up against women on the train, grabbing their breasts in a club, forcing themselves in so many ways big and small and society acting like it’s a victimless crime. I could go on for pages listing all the different times I’ve been accosted to one degree or another but I can’t because I’d probably go on forever.
Sometimes were worse than others. Sometimes things went further than I wanted them to go but I never felt like I could do anything about it because the truth is that no matter how good, bad, drunk, sober, promiscuous or frigid you are, if you are a woman, you have been made to feel vulnerable and unsafe in your lifetime. It’s the reality of being born with a vagina.
We don’t have to do anything to precipitate an attack, they just happen and we just have to learn to live with it. But this is bullshit. I don’t want my daughters to feel this shame and vulnerability or fear of living in a world where women are treated like inanimate holes put on this earth solely for men’s pleasure. Why do we have to be cautious and careful before doing everything? Even a girl in a beige cardigan who did nothing to encourage her attacker’s advances still got raped, left like garbage on the side of a dumpster.
That’s what society does, it makes men feel like they are entitled to everything and makes women feel like they are of no more value than garbage. I stand with all other women, in saying ME TOO! Over and over again. I knew it was wrong. I said no. I told people but still, the assailant prevailed because he had a penis and I was only armed with a vagina. In society, that makes me the one at fault.
Well, now I’m saying NO MORE! Every woman should say no more. No more fucking excuses. No more touching without asking. No more boys will be boys. No more taking what’s not yours. And no more looking the other way. If you see something, say something. We have to protect one another because if we don’t we all fall victim. It’s happened to all of us. Do we want it to happen to our daughters?
Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no. Let’s teach that instead of Boys will be boys.