If you haven’t heard of the “Me Too” campaign it is a movement started by Alyssa Milano in the wake of all of this Harvey Weinstein scandal. The goal is to draw attention to the sexual assult and or harassment women endure. This whole Me Too campaign has brought up a lot of really interesting conversations with friends, a lot of heartbreaking stories from my sisters, but I hope it brings a lot of understanding.
I have never met a woman that hasn’t been sexually assaulted or harassed, if you are a woman who has never experienced these things please tell us what it is like to have gone your whole life without this presence. You are a beautiful unicorn.
I have only ever been sexually assaulted when I worked in the service industry from age 16-19. I worked at a private golf club where members felt entitled to anything and everything including but not limited to squeezing my backside among other things. The cook at the club would grab me (and all the girls, it wasn’t just me, he assaulted all of us) and would squeeze us in a tight full frontal hug for 20+ seconds without consent. When I would push him away, or try and squirm out of his grasp, he’d squeeze tighter and when I dogged him he wouldn’t cook my orders or delay them for an hour sometimes causing the customers at my tables to be angry with me. Those are the only physical sexual assaults I’ve experienced, and I know that is minor compared to rape or other chronic abuses women endure. This issue is prevalent for all of us.
I have not been sexually assaulted like this since I was a teenager, as a woman who can now more readily spot men like this, and firmly say “no,” I now only experience harassment, catcallers, or online jerks who troll any and all photos of a women like the turds they are, from the privacy of their computer.
I will share my most memorable catcalling experience. I was in DC and I had a meeting, the only parking spot I could find was several blocks away from my meeting spot. On my walk back to my car a middle-aged man in a wheelchair cat called me he was saying the usual things, “hey beautiful, how are you today.” He started rolling behind me as I ignored him, saying things to me like, “hey baby this…” or “sweetie, how about that.” After following me for 2 blocks in his wheelchair he got tired of me ignoring him and picked up his pace, he wheeled faster and faster forcing me to start jogging and skipping to stay ahead of him, he started cussing me out calling me a “f*cking c*unt” he called me an “arrogant f*ing b*tch” he said, “I’m paying you a f*ing compliment c*unt.” I never turned around, I was sprinting to my car as he was wheeling himself as fast as he could behind me. I got in the car locked the door and he watched as I raced away. He had followed me for 5 blocks.
I laugh about that story now because he was in a wheelchair and in hindsight watching a man in a wheelchair chase and cuss out a girl is kind of a funny picture. It’s so pathetic and debase that it is laughable. But at the time I was angry, hurt, and scared. This story would have been less funny and even more frightening if he had been able-bodied. These kinds of things happen every day to millions of women around the world.
I recently was dealing with some clients, they were all men. Two of them made some sexist suggestions, and for the first time in my life, I decided to educate these men who were 10+ years older than me. I have never before voiced my offence, my pain, or my disgust when men make remarks like this. But this time I did. I told them that what they suggested was offensive to me as a woman, and then I suggested an alternative to their suggestion.
They were utterly shocked that what they said could be sexist. I do not fault them, I genuinely think they were probably ignorant and now they hopefully won’t make remarks like that in the future to other women. But this was my first step to re-education. I think educating with grace and telling men when they say something that is offensive is key in this “me too” discussion. We as women need to stand up when something is wrong and those of us who maybe are older, more confident, and less fearful have a responsibility to help those who are still wounded, in pain, and fearful for their safety. We should approach every assault and every insult with grace. Some men genuinely are scum bags who want to treat women horribly, but I believe that most men are open to change and open and even want to treat women with respect. We should help them understand how they cause harm.
I’m so sad that this issue is so prevalent, but I am encouraged by that fact that these things are topics of conversation. I’m encouraged that we, as human beings, are addressing the subject of how we can respect each other more. To the women who have endured severe sexual assaults and are in pain still, I’m so sorry and know that you have friends who will support you. If you are in a chronic abusive situation I urge you to reach out to friends, to law enforcement and put an end to the chronic sexual assault in your life. And as always if there is anything I can do for you, just reach out.