Tell your story
You've seen it everywhere, #MeToo
Reading these stories, not only encouraged to share my own but also opened my eyes and helped me confirm that at least 8 out of 10 women I know have been victims of sexual harassment. Let that number just sink in.
Living in this newly defined circle of hell… circle of hell that not even Dante could have thought of, we're talking thousands of women (and men too) sharing the harrowing stories of catcalling, groping, unwanted advances, and rape. All of them, victims of misconceptions, poorly raised boys, patriarchalism, misogynists, etc.
Mine? Mine started early in life, at home with "family". Then, in college, then at work. The latest? On BART a guy grabbed my ass "by mistake," and I offered to rip his arm off and hit him with it and I was called a bitch for defending myself. At my old office, a coworker said something about my "amazing legs" I complained to his boss, ended up being told that "he was giving me a compliment and I shouldn't take it so seriously.¨Of course, because that's why I educated my self and go to work to listen to some dumb bro talk about my legs, that's #goals right there. Also, I live for my DMs on Instagram filled with unwanted advances from men who think it's okay to send pictures of their dicks.
Sadly, these aren't the worst stories. Mine feel like a minuscule drop in an endless ocean of abuse.
What are we doing wrong? I asked visually frustrated to Jorge (my husband, the bearded feminist I married) last night. I have a theory, and I'll share Jorge's perspective as well.
My point of view is that we grew up being told that we couldn't wear short skirts because that was for certain kind of girl. Or that if a boy was mean to you is was because he liked you. (Great job raising those little emotion deprived dicks btw) My mom is the kind of woman who told me that if a boy was mean to me, I was allowed to be mean to him. However, I was told more than once, that I shouldn’t wear short skirts and that I should be nicer because I was too outspoken “and will never find a husband if I was like that” (Thank God I didn’t change and met Jorge).
I’ve been told ‘don't draw attention to yourself,’ ‘don't speak up’, ‘be sweet, girly and soft-spoken’, ‘smile more’, ‘don't be bossy’.’ And, all of these stereotypes justify that when that uncle decides to grab you, you’re afraid and ashamed and decide to keep it quiet. Or, because you went to a party and got drunk, your "friend" raped you and you didn’t come forward, because “you had it coming.” No one should go through these experiences. I know how lonely it feels to have nobody to talk about this. I see the shame behind it too but, why are the victims being shamed while the perpetrators think that's their right?
Jorge, who’s easily the most feminist guy I know, told me something I haven’t considered: we lack allies because men feel threatened and that we are putting them all in the same bucket. Evidently catcalling isn’t the same as rape (oh hi, Captain Obvious!) but it's the first step towards that path. The seemingly innocent "compliments" are often inappropriate remarks about a woman's physical attributes and after that might lead to the touching, the groping.
It's the generalization what seems to be bothering them and, they feel like we are accusing ALL men of being abusers. Also, they feel like we as victims we think it's all the same - from the unwanted advances at the gym to sexual violence-, he says that he knows every behavior inside of the sexual harassment spectrum is wrong, but men lack empathy to understand what it feels like to be on this side. However, at least in theory, we all know the difference between sexual harassment and sexual assault and none of them are acceptable behaviors. Jorge firmly believes that we need to do a better job raising boys than to tell girls to cover themselves up. He has helped me understand why I see so much pushback from men instead of leaning into empathy and a willingness to help. Not because he's my husband but, Jorge is my most significant ally in this fight.
We don't have the answers, I just know that we cannot be afraid of calling it like it is. Catcalling is not okay. Stealthing is not okay. Consent is explicit. Unsolicited dick pics are not okay.
The number of #metoo i've seen is staggering, and it terrifies me but, this is our fight. If you ever feel like you need to talk, I'm here for you, I believe you. You are not alone.
There were 95 million #metoo on Facebook. What does this say for the state of where we are and where we need to be?