I have had a few times in my life had discussions about rape and its prevalence in the world. One of the things that I always used to say was “I know like 4 people that I know were raped, imagine how many people whom I know were raped that I’m not aware of.” Because I was aware that most rape goes unreported, and I’m sure in lots of cases it goes relatively unremarked upon.
Yesterday, I started seeing “Me too” on people’s Facebook posts. Now, I’m aware that there is a large variety of sexually predatory actions that take place, such as sexual harassment, assault, and rape, and others. I don’t always know the specific distinctions, and I don’t want to talk about the differences, what I want to talk about is the scale to which we’re seeing these “me too”s.
I’m torn, because honestly, I wish there were none. I wish I was hearing about it about as a movement, but that all of the women I know were honestly able to not write anything (not that victimizing women I don’t know isn’t bad, but hopefully you understand what I mean). It has been gut wrenching for me every time I’ve seen one. Too see that all of these women have had this feeling of insecurity or danger, of disgust and invasion.
I’m disgusted, and I’m sorry to all of you that it happened to. I really do wish this movement had no momentum, because I wish it was a problem that wasn’t clearly systemic.
I want to share two things personally with you on this topic.
The first thing, is #metoo. When I was in eight grade (14 years old), a young man who was bullying me, would grab my butt and my genitals through my pants, and whisper in my ear “do you like that faggot?” I only remember it happening a couple of times, although the bullying lasted longer.
Now, personally, this young man was younger than me, but was physically stronger, more aggressive, and more popular, and so I felt I had no power to stop it. I’m 33, so this was 19 years ago, and I’m not sure that I am over it, but I don’t feel any anger towards him. I’ve spoken to a therapist, and family, and something that I’ve come to the conclusion of, was that he was likely having some kind of similar issue, and didn’t know how to process it.
Now, I’m lucky, my father found out that my bullies were ‘pants-ing’ me, and immediately went to my school and made it clear that it was over, and over night, it was better.
Now the second thing that I want to talk about. Is that without meaning to, I am sure that I have contributed to this problem. When I was younger (12-26) I was desperately trying to find love. I had crushes on girls, and I was usually pretty clear about that. From about 12-14, I would ask girls out, and I was unable to understand that when they would say things like “Um… I have plans that night” or whatever polite excuse they had, that they were trying to be nice and let me down easy. I thought they genuinely had those plans, and that if I were able to find a date more accommodating for them, that they would be willing to go out with me. The truth is, they didn’t like me.
At this point in my life, I was significantly bigger than the other kids my age, and I had acne, and I’m sure that there was a degree of me looking like a big oaf, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was intimidating to the girls I was asking out, especially when I kept asking. At that point in my life, it wasn’t sexual, I wanted to hold hands, maybe kiss, the idea of having sex with them had really never entered my brain, but if you’re a young woman already becoming aware of the dangers of the world, 12-14 year-old me had to be setting off all the alarms. Even if they knew I was pretty innocent intention-wise, I probably looked like Lenny from Of Mice and Men to them. So for that I’m sorry.
Thank you to all the women who are coming forward to show us that this is such a real problem. I hope that we as a society can make this better, I hope that this can become ‘fringe’ issue that some of us would like to believe it currently is.