“Me too,” I whisper in my head wondering how many friends are going to post these same two words. And I realize, that it’s probably the majority of women I’m friends with.
There is a movement to show just how many people are affected by sexual harassment or sexual assault by posting the words “Me too” on social media.
I realized that many people will stay silent. And that’s perfectly okay. They don’t owe anyone anything to anyone. Their story is their own to keep.
Out of curiosity, I checked the Me Too hashtag. And was shocked by some of the top things that showed up. People were wondering whether people were “Me Too-ing” to sexual assault or sexual harassment. They were completely missing the point. Sexual harassment and sexual assault come from the same place. Entitlement. Power. Authority. Selfishness. If you find yourself questioning which the poster experienced, you are just being nosy. They experienced it. That is the point. Maybe this is the reason people stay silent. The scrutiny. It always rears its ugly head when these topics are brought up.
Some will stay silent because they think their experience “wasn’t that bad.” Or that it “didn’t really matter.” But any harassment and assault, absolutely matters. It affects you. Even if you feel it is the smallest thing, it changes your life. Maybe you don’t take the same way home anymore. Maybe you lock your office door when you are alone, when you never used to. We shouldn’t have to change our lives in order to feel safe.
With the Harvey Weinstein stories coming out, so many more celebrities are being accused. Though being called out on Twitter, news media isn’t interested in reporting these other accused celebs, as I couldn’t find a one page source for you anywhere. If you haven’t, look at the numbers of people coming out. This is astounding.
Just on the radio this morning I heard a story about a guy that assaulted a “scare actor” in a Haunted House she was working at. The guy turned to the door he knew was going to open (where she was popping out to scare people) and groped her breasts and “grabbed down low” according to the witness, one of the radio hosts. And then a flood of people called exclaiming this used to happen when they worked at a Haunted House all the time. Most of the time, these are high school and college kids working at these haunted houses. And as one radio host said, “what? Men can’t be in a dark room with a woman without wanting to assault her?”
This a problem. It’s a problem that we have to start the #metoo campaign to make people realize how often this happens. To get them to believe us. It’s a problem that men use their power to do whatever they want. It’s a problem that men can be caught actually committing an assault and stopped by others, to basically serve no time (98% of rapist are never incarcerated). It is a problem that judges are concerned with what the criminal’s future will be like. It’s a problem that people see a sexual assault or harassment as a “20 minutes of action,” as Brock Turner’s dad said. And yes, it is a giant ass problem that one of these disgusting individuals was elected president.
Being assaulted isn’t a one and done kind of deal to a victim. It doesn’t just happen and you move on with your life. You are forcing someone to participate in something they don’t want to participate in. Maybe you don’t have to force physically, just with a threat. Rapist are rarely strangers that break into your house and force you with a threat of your life (71% of victims know the person who committed the sexual assault). It’s people in a position of power. Maybe a boss with a threat of firing you. Or older relatives with a threat of telling on you for something as a child. The angry spouse that just does it and asks who would believe you? You two are together after all. You most likely have to see this person again. You will have emotional scars if not physical ones.
People that have survived a sexual assault deal with issues of self esteem, guilt, self harm, and suicide. They deal with disorders that affect eating and sleep. They can end up with an Sexually Transmitted Infection. They’re future relationships can be affected. And in some cases, a pregnancy; and it’s not as scarce as you think. Conceiving is two times as likely in a sexual abuse than when consensual. Rape results in 32,000 pregnancies each year. Substance abuse is another issue people deal with after being the victim of sexual assault. They are six times more likely to use cocaine than the general public. People that are victims of sexual abuse experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder often as well.
Sexual harassment is not anything to sneeze at. I think many victims think this way because “it could be worse.” Stop tricking yourself into believing what’s happening is okay. Say something. Use your voice. One in three women has experienced sexual harassment at work. You are not alone. It isn’t okay. If you are uncomfortable, it is wrong.
You need to question, why men feel the right to our bodies. Sure, women commit acts like this as well. But looking at sheer numbers, there is a clear trend in perpetrators. Why is it cool to be seen with a girl you are three times younger than you? What is this belief that is built into our society? It’s so easy to ask why the victim didn’t do something. Why haven’t they spoken up at all? Or spoken up earlier? They are worried about being hurt, assaulted again, or about the threats used against them. Why was she wearing that outfit, she’s asking for it. Why would she go out with a group of guys, that’s her fault. What does she expect when she walks home alone? Why would he even be in that part of town by himself?
This is victim blaming. It is rape culture. Instead of questioning what is going on in our culture (that we are raising men to believe they can do whatever and raising minorities to be cautious) you question the person assaulted? It’s their fault? You need to shift your focus. You are a part of this brainwash if you find fault with someone that is a victim. You are a part of that monster. You are sitting in brain of that monster pushing buttons and pulling levers. Instead of coming out in solidarity with the victim. Instead of holding their broken spirit, you crush them. Change your beliefs. Change the way you look at things. Question these men. Question how we became this society that accepts perpetrators of sexual abuse, but shuns the victim.
A predator is defined as an animal that naturally preys on others or a person that ruthlessly exploits others. It is both definitions. Why is it natural in this society for people to prey on and use someone? Why do outsiders then use this person’s detrimental experience to fulfill their beliefs about what this person should have done to avoid assault and harassment. If you side with the predator, you are the predator. You are ruthlessly exploiting their assault to your benefit. Stop victim blaming. Instead, support them. Lead the initiative to incarcerate more of these rapists or to fire more of the harassers. Stand with them.
Does it scare you that by the time you have finished reading this, about 4 people have been sexually assaulted? Every 98 seconds someone is assaulted.
Ready for change? Start by saying: