As Posted On Facebook – “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem. (Although it’s a given that this is a gender-neutral issue, as well)”
That’s the status I woke up to find on Facebook this morning.
This pisses me off. The whole thing. That so many of my friends have this status. The fact that my friends could be triggered by my own status that is freeing but also so tough to write. More than that, I’m angry at myself for not standing up for myself. I could have. I should have. And yet even though I’m a strong person I still elected to retreat into a self-preservation mode of panic and escape rather than a solid ‘fuck you’ or otherwise. Never one to hurt anyone’s feelings. Even then. Smh.
Now I can’t sleep. Laying here thinking about this issue. And its bigger than a damned two-word status. And I’m going to tell you why. Just in case this is already too much trigger for you…please stop reading right now.
It’s being five years old, walking home from a neighbors home only a few houses down the lane when a teenaged boy rides past me on his bike, lifts his shorts and flashes his genitals at me as he leers.
It’s being six years old and having a visiting adult friend-of-a-friend ask me to lay down with him on the couch and cuddle to watch cartoons at 6 am while my parents slept. I obliged because he was an adult, and little kids are conditioned to listen to adults.
(But he DID ask me if it was ok.)
It’s being thirteen and having a seldom-seen, middle-aged male relative try to ply me with alcohol (which I refused, in case that matters. Even though we all know that it doesn’t, the defense mechanism is still strong, regardless. Because that’s what shame and guilt will do.) while he let me drive his jeep and made me feel grown up so he could put his hand up my ankle-length dress that I wore to that lavish diner he had just bought for me. He told me that he just wanted to feel my heart beat in the vein that runs along the groin.
He asked me if it was okay, too.
It’s being sixteeen and in Grade 12. My drama teacher looking down my top as he stood next to me in rehearsal, and he whispers ‘Nice tits!’ in my ear. I didn’t go back to class for the rest of the semester. He failed me. I had to appeal his grade in order to graduate with enough credits.
It’s being forty and not punching a man (who I didn’t know long, but respected and had no reason to not trust) in the face when I heard those same words, asking me if it was okay. He had asked me for a hug. I bent over to him as he was seated to oblige with a hug, because it’s a nice thing to do for a ‘friend’, and he reached both hands around to grab my entire behind with his two hands and lifted me with ease to force me into a forward-falling straddle into his lap. I panicked and froze, terrified.
He asked me if it was ok as he shoved his arms under my shirt onto my bare skin.
“This is okay, right?”, as his arms pressed harder and roamed across my body.
No. It’s not okay. It’s never fucking okay.
Let me be clear.
I didn’t ask to be flashed. I didn’t want to cuddle. I didn’t want his alcohol. Or to drive his car. Or to eat his extravagant meal as payment for what he did. I didn’t ask for the veiled compliment that made me sick to my stomach. And I sure as shit didn’t give permission for him to push beyond a friendly hug.
I’m sorry to my friends who have typed “me too”. I see you. I hear you. I don’t have any answers.
I’ve never told this much before. But then again, nobody’s ever asked.
It’s not your fault.
It’s not okay.
If you need to speak to a professional about your experience, please reach out to your local crisis line. Or call me and I can help you find the resources you need.