#MeToo

This is showing up on my facebook feed today:

Me too.

If all the people 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.

Please copy/paste.

Me too.

It occurred to me that while nothing incredibly traumatic like rape has ever happened to me, I nonetheless have a list of sexually harassing experiences that I have tried to forget or in weaker (younger, inexperienced) moments, rationalized or minimized.

In no particular order,

  • The creepy old guy that worked at the shoe store in Ottawa with me, who constantly made inappropriate comments about my body and my appearance. I never reported it, but dreaded and feared every moment that we worked alone together.
  • My male ‘stalker’ in Ottawa, who was a customer at the shoe store. I was being nice to him because I was selling him shoes, he misunderstood and thought I was flirting with him. He tried to ‘visit’ me at the store a number of times, but I always managed to hide in the stockroom until he left. Thank god he never found out where I lived.
  • The guy at university who plied me and my girlfriends with drinks all night and was incensed when I wouldn’t let him ‘take me home’. Found out later (from one of his own friends) that this was his MO for date-rape.
  • The guy at work who said ‘no offense, but are your boobs getting bigger?’
  • The manager at a place I worked  that sells Chicago-style deep dish pizza who would ask me about my weekend plans with my boyfriend by saying inappropriate things like  ‘ooooh are you going to do the nasty?’ I heard he got fired for sexual harassment a few months later, so obviously someone was more proactive than I was.
  • The man who exposed himself to me while I was about twelve and walking home from school. I turned away quickly and didn’t see much, but I was too afraid to tell anybody. We had been decorating Easter eggs with beeswax designs that day in school and to this day the scent of beeswax elicits a faint memory – I’ve all but suppressed it otherwise.
  • All the high school dude-bros who barked like dogs when I passed them in the hallway.
  • Two guys at a sandwich place who openly leered at my cleavage while I ate my sandwich.
  • Any guy who ever asked if ‘the carpets match the drapes’.
  • All the places I haven’t been able to go to on my own after dark for fear of assault or rape.

And this is just a short list, of a fortunate woman who:

  • is in a long term relationship with a respectful partner
  • has lots of wonderful male friends who always have her back on nights out
  • was raised with a take-no-shit attitude
  • has never doubted her access to equal rights
  • has worked (for the most part) in places with excellent HR departments
  • has never been desperate for money, food or shelter

How much longer would my list have been without any of those things?

2 thoughts on “#MeToo

  1. I’ve read this post a couple of times now and have struggled between wanting to weigh in and whether my words add anything of value to the conversation. Or, at the very least, that they do not make it worse.

    I think of myself as the “good guy” but in reading the examples of boorish behavior many women have posted, including some above, I realize there have been times in my life when I have been not the good guy I perceived myself to be. My gaze has lingered too long on cleavage, legs and bums. My awkward attempts at flirting have probably resulted in a few uncomfortable moments for women I was genuinely interested in. Now that I am firmly entrenched in middle age, I wish I could go back and have a word with the young twit who had a 32″ waist.

    I saw some men who weighed in with their own #metoo comments. I understand why but I wish they hadn’t. This was a moment for women to show just how pervasive the problem is. Yes, I have been aggressively pursued by a young woman with whom I was friendly but had no romantic or sexual interest. It was uncomfortable at times and certainly unwanted but to me the deciding factor was the power differential. In almost every respect, I had the power. She had little. I could simply dismiss her and the situation would likely resolve itself, which is what happened.

    This campaign was successful to me because it got me to open my own eyes and examine my own past behaviours. It makes me hopeful not only that my daughters and nieces won’t have as many ‘me too’ moments but also that my nephews won’t be perpetrating them.

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