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Me Too?
October 17th, 2017 by Coral

This is a change from what I normally post here as this is not really about writing, but the topic was important enough to me I decided to post it anyway.

Me Too. I’m sure you’ve all been seeing those words appear as statuses on your chosen social media platform, and for a reason. A tragic reason. So many women and girls have been the victims of sexual harassment and assault, as seen by all of those who posted the Me Too status.

 

But there’s something else to think about, some of us didn’t post it because we wondered if we fit the category. Wondering if it was bad enough to count, or maybe abstaining from the status because they were ashamed.

 

For me, the question was what the Me Too status is supposed to encompass. The inclusion of sexual harassment throws it into confusion for me. I have had situations in which I felt uncomfortable, and situations I felt were inappropriate and I didn’t feel safe. But did they count?

 

When I was in middle school, a boy in my homeroom class sat on my lap without any warning. When I pushed him off and told him to go back to his own desk, he said “I thought we had something in common.” I didn’t even know him, and he continued to do things like sit on my desk and hover around me for the rest of the term when we were in that class.

 

At work, I was in the break room with only men, when the conversation turned to a vulgar discussion of porn and objectification of women. I wasn’t targeted, necessarily, but I sure didn’t feel safe. I quickly switched to eating in a different building of the company completely so I could avoid having to be in that room again, because I didn’t  feel safe there. Does that count?

 

I was once around a group of guys who thought it would be funny to give me unsolicited hugs without warning, even after I asked them not to. They saw it as a joke until I informed them that the next one who touched me would get a slap to the face and reported for sexual harassment.

 

But then they stopped, so…..what’s the question here?

 

The problem wasn’t that I don’t like hugs, I hug people all the time. But in this scenario, I did not want to be hugged by them, and they were not asking, they were just doing, even when I said no.

 

My parents raised me to have the belief that my body is sacred, and my body is mine, they didn’t raise me to tolerate nonsense from boys or anyone else who thought they had a right to make decisions about my body. This includes touching me by hugging me, sitting on my lap, or any number of things more intimate than a high five, without my consent, and especially if I express that I don’t want it.

 

Part of the problem is I don’t want people to think I’m just trying to get attention, or assume I made bad decisions and got myself into a bad situation, if I post the status of Me Too. My experiences weren’t traumatic like some, but they were uncomfortable, I felt unsafe, and sometimes it took more than one warning or me removing myself completely from what should have been a safe environment in order to feel safe again.  But that’s how victims of more tragic things feel, too.

 

They don’t want to seem like they’re crying for attention, people will shame them, telling them it was their own fault.  Obviously, we all need to make good choices and try to stay safe, but if a woman is sexually assaulted, it is never her fault.  This status is not a way to get attention, it is a way to show people just how big of a problem we have in this society. Both men and women need to be educated on this, the problem needs to be addressed.

 

While I have not experienced the same tragedy as some, I do know personally many women who haven’t been as lucky as me.  It breaks my heart. Especially painful is the fact that there can be warning signs, and in many cases the warning signs will be brushed off as the girl being “too sensitive” or some other excuse if she speaks up about being uncomfortable. I know that’s how some felt about my experiences, that I was overreacting, and I’m sure some reading this will think that as well.

 

We all need to be more considerate of people, respect personal space and limits of others even if we don’t understand them. If we all tried to be more understanding, and tried to be more watchful and aware of this problem, it would decrease dramatically. Can’t we all do that?

 

Don’t we all have a sister, a mother, a friend, or a daughter that we would protect at all costs? A little awareness and speaking up could go a long way.


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