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.
so i reposted it.
then i started feeling sick and spent the next 24 hours sleeping off what i believe to be exhaustion mixed with allergies and the beginnings of a sinus infection. i missed monday’s posts, and most of what was circulating around Facebook. when i finally signed on to Facebook and saw what some of my friends and family had each posted (and in some instances, tagged me in) i was glad to have missed a full day of social media.
the truth is, so many people have experienced or been affected by sexual assault and harassment. this isn’t just something that straight women encounter. my guess is that every person in the world has either witnessed a sexual assault or harassment, or been a victim of sexual assault or harassment, men and women alike.
so many will ask, why speak up now? or they may be dismissive of the recounted tales of victims being posted over and over again on their newsfeed. this pains me. how can we trivialize another person’s trauma? how can we tell them to get over it, or move on, or tell them they were probably asking for it? how can we blame them? those of us who are victims of sexual harassment would be hard-pressed to forget it, as for many of us it happens every single day.
it happens to me at the grocery store. it happens to me at the gas station. it happens to me in my very own front yard.
and then there are the places where we know it happens. music festivals are notorious for their high incidents of sexual assault. i know i’ve had my ass grabbed under my skirt, dress, or shorts, a number of times in large crowds at festivals. and there certainly have been a lot of times where i’ve felt a guy rub up against me from behind. this has happened to me in clubs and bars as well.
where are we supposed to be safe? not in the workplace, as we’ve seen from the headlines the last few weeks regarding harvey weinstein – and he’s certainly not the only person who has used their power to sexually assault others employed by them. not in schools, as we’ve seen from the numerous cases of students being assaulted by other students, faculty, etc. – and their perpetrators laughable punishments. not in our homes. not in our grocery stores. not at the gas station.
the problem is that for so long we have made sexual assault and harassment a “woman’s problem”. we’ve taught our daughters to be hyper-vigilant, to carry rape whistles, to not wear revealing clothing. but it’s not just a “woman’s problem”. it’s everyone’s problem. as we’ve learned from the harvey weinstein case, so many people were aware of what he was doing, and didn’t say anything. this is far from being singular to this one case. think of all the times you heard of or saw something that made you feel uncomfortable, but you didn’t say anything.
this is what we’re asking by sharing our stories. we want you, all of you, men, women, non-binary, alike, to roar with us. we’re tired of living in the shadows, of being afraid to speak out for fear of retaliation or that our words will be diminished by those who are afraid to take a stand with us. “boys will be boys” is not a thing anymore. we won’t stand for it. we’re tired of always being on edge when we’re alone. we’re tired of men making decisions about our bodies, when they can barely speak about menstruation or sexual pleasure without embarrassment or any knowledge of the female anatomy. we’re tired of being told to dress a certain way, to only run in groups, to carry mace or rape whistles, to worry about date rape drugs, to not speak up for fear of losing our careers. we’re tired of being secondary citizens, of not having these conversations with our fathers, our brothers, our friends.
we want you to stand with us. we want you to speak out with us. we want you to take all the anger you have ever felt once you got over your surprise that your mother, sister, daughter, friend experienced something like this, and we want you to use it. use it to help us change the current rape culture in our society. use it to help us educate our children, so that we can make this world a better place for them. because this isn’t going away. we won’t forget, we won’t be silenced, and we won’t back down.