October 19, 2017

Me, too.

Yes, me too.

My high school teacher gave me a detention and then invited me to lay down on his desk while he graded papers. When I didn’t do it, he lowered my grade in his class. He said I could have kept the grade if I had accepted the invitation.

I stayed after school one day for marching band practice. As I walked alone down the hall, past the weight room where the football team was lifting, one of them called after me, "Hey, there she is. Let's rape her." His teammates met his comment with uproarious laughter and cheering.

I was a waitress for six years in high school and college. Many, many men thought that 'server' meant 'servant' and took liberties that I was supposed to have been grateful for, since they offered me a bigger tip for my bigger breasts.

I have a few more. So yes, me too.

When I first saw the circulation of this "me too" movement, I didn't post anything on Facebook to join the vocal movement because I don't like to be one of many. I don't like to be a voice in the noise. I don’t like to be part of GroupThink.

I have to admit, my first thought was casually dismissive. "Sure, me too. I mean, haven't we all been exposed to some kind of harassment? Isn't that how it goes?"

And then I saw the error in my thinking. Each #MeToo is a story on a spectrum of severity, all under an umbrella of unacceptable. Thinking it's not worth mentioning is the beginning of thinking it's okay. We can't be a people who think this is okay.

Societal problems are the deepest and most dangerous when they're no longer questioned. When people don't talk about it anymore because it's all been said.

So, what could I do?

I could continue the conversation with people under my influence: the two young men whom I drive to school, whom I kiss good night, who ask me questions while I put on eye makeup in the morning.

"Guys, there's this thing happening on Facebook right now, and lots of the people are talking about a time when someone touched them without permission or said something about their bodies that made them feel uncomfortable. Can we talk again about what's okay and what's not okay, just so I know you know?"

They recite back to me the things I've been saying for years in the language that is theirs.

Don't touch a girl without her permission.
Her body is hers. Always hers.
Never use an animal name to describe a girl. (Chick, fox, pig, dog, etc. All off limits.)
Always be respectful of other people's space and boundaries.
No means no.

So we keep talking. And we'll keep talking. You and me, us and them, all of us.

#metoo

 

4 comments on “Me, too.”

  1. When my soon to be ex-husband was dating an older woman, with older children, my biggest fear was not being able to protect them. As if I could protect them better if their parents stayed together (a totally untrue thought). However, the problem was that it hit my biggest fear, because I had been molested as a young child by a baby sitter's boyfriend. But then there was the near date rape by a co-worker (who actually did rape another co-worker), the slimy McDonald's owner that followed me to the trash bin.... and more. No wonder it was my biggest fear and the thing I wanted to save my children from most. Especially, as they were going to be in the company of many people I wouldn't even know, and they did end up having step siblings much older than them. As I shared those fears with girlfriends in my "village", I could see the look in the eye before they shared their story. Unfortunately, it was 100% of all the girlfriends I spoke with, that also had their own story. I was one that shared the "me too" early on and I've been saddened as they just keep coming. Thanks for sharing your story and how you are helping to make it better, as a mom raising two boys to change the outlook.

  2. Kudos to both you and your first comment poster. These things should not have to be repeated after all these years, but evidently they do need to be said again and again and again, ad infinitum. Any message will eventually sink in with repetition (marketers and politicians use this technique excessively - if we hear it often enough, we think it's fact) and especially with living the message, as an example to others.

  3. I'm sure that you know this, and I only say this because you didn't mention it in what you talk about with your boys--but make sure they know their bodies are off-limits to anyone else, as well. It doesn't only happen to girls. <3 <3 <3

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