I haven’t posted to social media with a personal #MeToo message before now because I didn’t really see the point. I mean, c’mon! Is it still not obvious to everyone that women everywhere are routinely harassed and assaulted?
No? Really? Okay, let’s simplify things and not even talk about women… let’s just talk about girls.
Here are a few things I experienced before I even reached puberty:
- A classmate jammed his hand under my skirt, past my panties and into my vagina.
- I was scared to answer the phone because I received obscene calls a few times a week from an unknown male, who knew my name and what I had worn to school that day.
- A stranger flashed me and offered me money if I would touch his penis.
- I was regularly catcalled by adult men because my walk home from school was past the new construction sites in our subdivision.
Let me reiterate… these things (and more) all happened before I even started to grow breasts. And I’m not an anomaly. This study looked at the average age women received their first catcalls.
I can’t even begin to list the many and varied ways I’ve been violated since the elementary school years and into womanhood… comments that made me uncomfortable, kisses I didn’t want, gropes that were too intimate.
Of course, women aren’t the only victims of harassment and assault. But the fact is, as a group, we are more vulnerable. Out of necessity, as we grow into our bodies as women, we condition ourselves to be “thicker skinned” and we learn how to take extra precautions to protect ourselves. We learn to ignore the lewd comments, to hold our keys between our knuckles when we walk alone at night, to meet our first dates at busy coffee shops, and to check the back seats of our cars before we get in.
Margaret Atwood writes that when she asked a male friend why men feel threatened by women, he answered, “They are afraid women will laugh at them.” When she asked a group of women why they feel threatened by men, they said, “We’re afraid of being killed.”
All this is to say, I’m simply baffled that people still seem to be surprised by the prevalence of harassment and assault against women that this most recent social media trend has spotlighted. But, even though I know I’m just another drop in the bucket, here goes…