With the stories coming out about the trainwreck that is Harvey Weinstein and his scummy nasty history of sexual harassment and abuse, I think every woman in America is reflecting on her own stories of harassment and/or abuse. It is amazing how many women even have stories – I would bet 99.9% of women have been at least one story of harassment. It’s ridiculous.
And now there is a #Me Too trend on social media, where women are speaking up about their own experiences with sexual harassment and/or abuse. And some women don’t want to speak up about their experiences and that is perfectly fine too – no one should be forced to participate in something that makes them uncomfortable, especially when it has to do with social media. As I was reading about all of the Me Toos, this thought went through my head:
I’m glad that I was only harassed a few times and not seriously abused.
Um…how messed up is that??? I’m glad that I was ONLY harassed? It’s sad that I feel lucky that the harassment did not escalate. It’s sad that I was harassed at all.
So that’s why I feel like, #Me Too, But Only A Little Bit. It’s weird. And here’s why I say “only a little bit”:
When I was sophomore in high school, I was doing a play and if you knew anything about the drama department in high school, you’ll know that we were a cozy bunch. It wasn’t uncommon for someone, boy or girl, to walk up to you and throw an arm around your shoulders while you were waiting for a set change, or for someone to give you a back massage, or whatever. So when Jeff walked up behind me and put his arms around my waist, it didn’t surprise me. However, he then put his hands in the front pockets of my pants and began to massage my pubic bone with his fingers. That did surprise me. I froze. And being the naive good girl that I was, I simply said “uh can you stop that…it tickles” (it tickles…THAT’S the best I could come up with???) and he immediately walked away. What I wish I had done was kneed him in the groin and slapped his face and reported him to my teacher, but I didn’t. I don’t think I told anyone.
Another one off the top of my head is when I was working at a restaurant in college, there was one guy who worked there who I thought was funny and nice. The weather had turned really cold and we were all talking about walking to class in the brutal chill when he said, “Did you know that the warmest part of the body is between the legs?” I thought this was like some sort of science-y anatomy lesson and I was all “Really? I didn’t know that.” (See above, naive) and he responded with a sly smile “Yeah next time my ears are cold, I’ll let you know.” EWWWWWWWW!!!! I think I freaked out a little and probably laughed because it was so unexpected. I walked away feeling super uncomfortable. I’m sure that’s not the worst thing that was ever said to me, but it’s the one that I remember the most.
Again, in college, getting ready to head out for the evening when an older neighbor at my apartment complex calls my roommate and I over and invites us in (his door was wide open and he saw us walk by). We didn’t know him very well, other than a friendly wave in passing. We go in (making sure door stayed open) and see that he and a couple of buddies are watching some hardcore porn and he starts asking me question like “Do you know what that’s called” and “have you ever done that before”. My roommate luckily grabbed my arm and we got out of there ASAP. We avoided that guy as much as we could for the rest of the year. No telling what could have happened if we had stayed any longer.
Also, one time I had this green shirt that I loved. I felt good in it, it fit well, I loved this shirt. I wore it to work one day and a coworker saw me and said “I like that shirt. Yeah…I like it a lot…that’s a niiiiiiice shirt.” It skeeved me out so bad, I never wore that shirt to work again. Oh! And same guy, after I had gotten my hair cut really short: “I like women with short hair, makes them look sexy.” I didn’t cut my hair short for 2 years after that – I let it grow as long as I could. I don’t know if that could be considered sexual harassment, but it made VERY uncomfortable. Asshole ruined my green shirt AND my cute haircut for me. Jerk.
I feel like I dodged many bullets in high school and college. There were many times things could have gone so, so wrong for me, but for whatever reason (a roommate with excellent intuition, a mom who prayed for my safety every night, guys who stepped in to make sure I was okay) I was left unscathed. And I am so thankful for that. I pray my daughters will remain unharmed also.
So yes, #Me Too, but thankfully, I didn’t get hurt.