As a writer, I had not yet been able to formulate an articulate response on the "Me Too" movement. And as a woman, it becomes such a common occurrence to encounter intimidation, disrespect, gaslighting, abuse of power, physical and emotional abuse and control, inappropriate behavior, gestures, looks, advances, jokes, and physical contact, that we most times don't even think to speak up about it. To be honest, we regularly expect it, and sometimes we even don’t even recognize it because we are so frequently subjected to this behavior. Fear, insecurity in defending ones personal rights, and having to second guess the level of respect desired is almost a casual part of our every day lives. Our reputations are at risk, and our loyalty is questioned if we choose to take a stand against feeling disrespected, fearful, controlled, or uncomfortable. We walk through our days brushing off advances, cat calls, jokes, and propositions, as swiftly as we would a bug from our arm on a summer night.
When it comes down to it, how you personally feel based on another's actions is really the only thing you need to have confidence in when walking away from, or speaking up about a situation. It is a sad but true fact that we feel as though we should hold our tongues on any of the aforementioned points in order to keep the peace, keep our relationships, keep our jobs, or keep our lives in tact. We are accused of being too sensitive, exaggerating, or twisting facts when the facts are in question. Because yes, they are always in question. That is something that only the ones that have experienced any of it can understand and recognize. And for the simple fact of owning a vagina, I’ve been privy to a number of things on that list. I don’t think that any woman hasn’t experienced at least one.
For almost 48 hours, as I’ve scrolled through my Facebook feed any time I have signed in, I have seen post, after post, after POST of “Me Too”. And to follow those, there have been responses of support for those of whom have only written ”Me Too”, for those of whom have been brave enough to share their actual stories, and especially for those of whom have experienced what “Me Too” means but haven’t made it visible. I refuse to refer to them... to us, as “victims”, because victim means “a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event. A sufferer”. But no where in the Webster’s Dictionary does it also mention in the definition that said victim also has a choice by voice, and strength to overcome. When I said I hadn’t been able to articulate a response, it’s because how do you even begin to respond to something so huge? Even though life is a beautiful gift, and it is, we all know that there is also ugly in the world. This is one of those kinds of movements that VERY boldly brings attention to both the beauty, (the support and unity), and the ugly, (the definition of “Me Too”) in the world.
“Me Too” illustrates that the poster of this quote has experienced sexual harassment or assault. The idea behind this quote was to highlight the magnitude of this problem in our society. I came across a post that quoted one of the most poignant and accurate explanations of what “Me Too” really comes down to, by Jackson Katz, The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help -
“I draw a line down the middle of a chalkboard, sketching a male symbol on one side and a female symbol on the other. Then I ask just the men: What steps do you guys take, on a daily basis, to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? At first there is a kind of awkward silence as the men try to figure out if they've been asked a trick question. The silence gives way to a smattering of nervous laughter. Occasionally, a young a guy will raise his hand and say, 'I stay out of prison.' This is typically followed by another moment of laughter, before someone finally raises his hand and soberly states, 'Nothing. I don't think about it.' Then I ask women the same question. What steps do you take on a daily basis to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? Women throughout the audience immediately start raising their hands. As the men sit in stunned silence, the women recount safety precautions they take as part of their daily routine. Here are some of their answers: Hold my keys as a potential weapon. Look in the back seat of the car before getting in. Carry a cell phone. Don't go jogging at night. Lock all the windows when I sleep. Be careful not to drink too much. Don't put my drink down and come back to it; make sure I see it being poured. Own a big dog. Carry pepper spray. Have an unlisted phone number. Park in well-lit areas. Don't use parking garages. Don't get on elevators with only one man, or with a group of men. Watch what I wear. Don't make eye contact with men on the street...”. And the list went on.
While I fully support that no one should live their lives in fear on a daily basis, practicing certain habits to keep yourself safe from everything mentioned above is a necessary part of life. And that quote from Jackson Katz so blatantly explains to anyone who may be questioning what “Me Too” really means. So for everyone who live’s in “a man’s world”.... welcome to ours. Women’s worlds can be full of beauty and chaos, but only the future of man can change how safe, comfortable, and loved we feel in it.