I can hardly believe it’s been a year since the inauguration. So much has happened in a single year that it all seems like a blur. More recently, the #metoo movement has shed light on a subject that hits me in the rawest places of my heart. I haven’t spoken out about #metoo at all since it first started to gain traction in social media. So, when I sat down tonight to write my first Coffee Talk Series post, in the wake of the Women’s Rights March on Saturday, I decided to talk briefly about #metoo.
Let’s be blunt.
Have I been sexually harassed? Yes.
…by both men and women.
Have I been sexually assaulted? Yes.
Yet, somehow I don’t feel outraged. I don’t know if it’s because living in anger is not the way I chose to cope with this horrible reality of being a woman, or if it’s because I’ve grown numb to the instances of sexual slurs and looks from passersby that make your skin crawl. Either way, I too have been hiding behind a metaphorical hashtag for most of my life. Pretending like I didn’t hear the cat calls, ignoring the sexual advances that many times were borderline assault, and brushing it off because “men are men.” It’s only within the last couple years, that I’ve realized what a horrible reality this is, and that I’m a powerful woman who can change it. So, do I feel outraged? No. I feel resolved. I feel brave. I feel strong.
In what seems like a lifetime ago, I was in a relationship with a man who told me that “I was asking for it” because of the way I dressed when men looked at me a certain way while we were out in public. I didn’t realize that clothes could speak. Apparently, I had been living in my own version of Beauty and the Beast where my clothes spoke and begged men to look at me like I was theirs for the taking. He believed, and for some time, had me accepting, that perhaps I did do something “wrong” that encouraged these men to act this way towards me. The truly terrifying part about this time in my life, is that even though I know now that I did nothing – deserved nothing – encouraged nothing – that others out there share this man’s beliefs. Beliefs that “men will be men”, and as such, “locker room talk” where women are degraded is acceptable.
We’ve spent way too long hiding. Now is the time to say no more. We will not hide in the shadows for fear of retribution. What if we started approaching politicians and telling them that it will be their daughters #too. All of these women in the media are finally standing up and acknowledging outloud what we’ve all been thinking for our entire lives – this is wrong.
So, where do you start? If you don’t know – don’t worry, and don’t feel embarrassed. Start googling, or asking friends. I’ve used Resistbot many times to write to my representatives. It’s easy to use, and you can do it all via text. This service identifies who your representatives are, and will help you draft a message to them. Additionally, this site also lets you know about town hall meetings and volunteer opportunities in your area. All you have to do is text RESIST to Resistbot on Telegram, Messenger, or to 50409 on SMS. Resistbot will deliver your message to your representative in under 2 minutes. No downloads or apps required. We need to let those men and women who represent our interests that we’re still here – and we’re not going anywhere.
One last thing…
If you’re reading this and you’ve experienced sexual assault or harassment, please know that you’re not alone. And most importantly, it was not your fault, and you did nothing to deserve it. If you need to talk to someone – don’t feel ashamed. You can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE (4673) and you’ll be connected with a provider in your area. Just remember that you are not alone.