It happens so often and it always feels the same...disgusting.
Sunday afternoon I scrolled down my Facebook feed and noticed a post by one of my former classmates and someone I grew close to during my undergrad years. It read,
If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote "Me too." as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem."
Not being one to participate much in social media I read her post, paused, gave it a thought, and kept scrolling. I'm not sure what I thought other than, "huh, interesting..."
Fast forward into the evening I check my feed once more and notice the many names of friends, old colleagues, old professors, and even current bosses whose posts featured those same two words, "Me too."
This time I didn't keep scrolling.
This time the magnitude of "Me too" was felt. This time I put my phone down and thought about all the times it was Me too.
Like, why I hate going out to clubs. Because showing a little more skin than usual it's apparently an invitation for men to touch and or grab me. Because saying "No, I don't want a drink" or "No, I don't want to dance." Is some how so insulting that they feel it necessary to harass me about my answer and push their agenda.
Or, why I sometimes second guess my outfits. Because I never forgot how dirty I felt when an old man undressed me with his eyes and gave me a disgusting smile all because I was wearing a V neck shirt that showed some cleavage. Never mind I was 14 years-old. Or when I was told that I have the perfect size breasts by a man I've worked with because I was wearing a form fitting shirt.
Or even, how defending a friend makes me a bitch. Because how dare I touch you, let alone slap your hand away before you have the chance to put it on my friend's ass as we walk by.
None of these are uncommon experiences and will quite honestly probably continue to happen. This is where I take issue with the "Me too" campaign. Though it has done it's part to show the sheer volume of women who have been sexually assaulted and or harassed (which is something that shouldn't be taken lightly) I fear nothing will come of it.
Yes, speaking up, providing support, and making your stories heard is a start but where do you go from there?
Do we place the responsibility on men? Encourage them to take what has been ingrained in our culture for decades and say no more? To, as men, expect and demand better from each other? To not only refuse to cover up inappropriate behavior but to also call it out?
I'm all for showing just how commonplace this disgusting behavior is. To draw attention to the fact that it's not okay and never has been no matter how long it's been going on. And to fight for, in the words of Aretha Franklin, more R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
I would love to not worry about the possibility of me being jumped, assaulted, or raped as I walk to my car at night. To not carry my mace in one hand and my keys between my fingers in the other as I look in all directions for anyone approaching. To not have to dance around inappropriate sexual comments made about me or others without fear of repercussion or being labeled as the chick who can't take a joke.
Although all of the above would be great I also know we are a ways off from it ever happening. I'm not naive to the fact that this fight, of what seems to be entitlement, will be a collaborative effort from both sides. Because as Hollywood has helped to show us, women may be in the majority but there are men who are apart of this group as well.
Your body is not a public space.