Why I Haven’t Said #MeToo Yet
Over the past week, women have been sharing their #metoo stories all over the net. And it’s been a rude awakening for both men and women. Men who never realized that it affected almost every woman they know. And women who now realize that they are not alone. Yet for some reason, I can’t bring myself to post #metoo – even though it’s true.
Maybe it’s because I don’t want my family to know, or my husband. Or perhaps it’s because I feel ashamed of what happened and that, somehow, it was my own fault. It could just be that I’m not looking for sympathy or support. Most of all, I’m wondering if it will make a difference at all if I share my experiences.
Why I’ve decided to speak now
You see, I am a mom now. I have a daughter who is 7. And I was 7 when I had my first experience with young men abusing their ‘power’. I was riding my bike on our street and three of the neighborhood boys, who were only a few years older than me, decided to take out their penises and pee on me. And I was the one who felt embarrassed. Years later, I ran into one of the boys at a party but now he was all grown up. And do you want to know what he said to me? ‘Didn’t we pee on you when we were kids?’ Another moment of embarrassment for me, and I left the party.
I feel as though my body was to blame
Unfortunately for me, I developed very large breasts as a young woman. And for many, many years, it was the source of far too much unwanted attention. In high school, my male friends would have tickle fights with me, or offer to give me a massage so that they could fondle my breasts. I figure it was my fault because they were too big and they couldn’t help themselves. It didn’t feel good but I didn’t know what to do about it. I figured that eventually they would ask me out. They never did.
When I got my first corporate job at 18, one of the men I worked with offered me guitar lessons. I went to his home for the lessons. His wife and child were also home during the lessons. Yet for some reason he sat behind me, to ‘help’ me, and ended up with his hands up my shirt. When I told my female manager at work, she brushed it off and didn’t really believe me, so there were no consequences.
It didn’t stop there…
In university, there were many times when I chose to stay silent instead of saying no (consent was implied). And once I was violated by a female friend who was exploring her sexuality. I never said anything as I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. And lastly, I’ll never forget the running coach who told my friend to tell me that I should wear a third bra because my boobs were bouncing too much when I ran. Not longer after that, I made the decision to have a breast reduction.
These stories are what includes me in #metoo. Nothing life threatening or even that serious. However all of these experiences have left a mark. An invisible one that you could never see. Yet so many of us have these marks in common. Like many women, I remember these moments as clear as day. And as a person who chooses to live a life built on a foundation of gratitude, I find it hard to be grateful for these events.
So where does gratitude fit in?
What I am grateful for is that today I’m married to a wonderful man, who has the up most respect for me and other women. I’m grateful that I can be here to help navigate the world with my daughter. I realize that I can’t protect her, however I can certainly guide her. I’m grateful that these stories are coming out and that more and more women are speaking out. And lastly, I’m grateful to be part of the solution.
Whether you choose to share your story or not isn’t important. It’s that you know you’re not alone. It’s happened to virtually every woman. Let’s work together to teach our sons that this kind of behavior is unacceptable. And teach our daughters that silence is not the answer. It’s time to use our voices and make a change. What’s our next step? This post from Fortune.com offers a few ways we can affect change. I am confident that our world is changing and that the future is going to be different for my daughter and all of our daughters.