8 women share “Me Too” messages against sexual harassment and assault
posted by: Amber Johnson
Harvey Weinstein’s long alleged history of sexually preying on actresses, journalists, and musicians — and then scaring them into silence — has spurred a deeply charged national conversation about sexual harassment. Social media feeds are filled with the powerful profession “Me Too” as more women speak up against sexual harassment and assault, demanding something be done.
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a government agency responsible for processing the sexual harassment complaints, says, “Unwanted physical touching was formally reported only 8% of the time; and sexually coercive behavior was reported by only 30% of the women who experienced it. … Studies have found that 6% to 13% of individuals who experience harassment file a formal complaint. That means that, on average, anywhere from 87% to 94% of individuals did not file a formal complaint.”
I would like to add my voice to the many women who have been violated over the years. When I was in my early 20s, I was walking on a busy street when a man called me over to his car, only to reveal he was openly masturbating. I was filled with disgust then…and am even more enraged now as I see my blossoming 13-year-old daughter become the subject of objectification by leering men.
But the assaults aren’t only just sexual. Last summer, I had driven 19 hours over two days, it was late and I was waiting in a long line to fill up my car with gas. When it was finally my turn, a car skipped the line and backed in to the pump. On a normal day, I might have ignored him but I challenged his rudeness. “Hey, do you see the looong line of cars here?” He unleashed on me such misogynist obscenities that I was left reeling…and actually fearing for my safety. I took a picture of him and his license plate in case he attempted to assault me, which unleashed another backlash of insults as he screamed at me one foot away through my window.
Dear Cat Callers
Being harassed on the street is an all too frequent occurrence for many women and it’s difficult to know how best to react. One woman found an ingenious way to deal with her harassers and send a powerful message at the same time by taking selfies with them and sharing them on her feed, Dear Cat Callers.
Let’s join our voices together on social media and let these two simple words, Me Too, become the rallying cry to stand against sexual harassment and assault.
While assigned to the Pentagon as a Lieutenant, Major Tad M. routinely made lewd comments to me in the office, often prefaced by “Well, you’ll probably take me to Social Actions for saying this, but…” When I finally requested a meeting with him (and another Major as a witness) to express my discomfort and ask him to stop, he feigned ignorance and offered a non-apology.
The worst part is that all of his comments were made in the presence of other officers and civilians who never bothered to say anything on my behalf.
Me too. I won’t get into the number of times it happened in the music biz so I’ll go with this one.
I was shopping on the third street promenade in Santa Monica in the 90’s. I was in my 20’s and just minding my business shopping at Anthropologie. This dude straight up just walked by and fully grabbed my ass (subtle as a heart attack) and then kept walking. He was an older man, kind of nerdy and totally creepy. I was like oh hell no you don’t!
I was actually not concerned for myself but thought about the other younger girls that he must have done this to frequently and I could not let it go. I followed the guy right out of the store on to the promenade and kept following him until I found one of those cops on bicycles and reported him – all the while keeping him in my sights. I told the cop that I wanted him arrested and to press charges. For a moment, I was not sure because then I wondered if my information would be listed and I might need to testify against this person who might be able to find me at a later date. I ultimately decided to proceed with pressing charges. They arrested him and said that he had multiple priors for groping!! I had so much adrenaline and so many emotions of anger, fear and vindication. #MeToo#NotToday
I had a man in power tell me, in front of one of my direct reports, that he got an erection when I touched my hair. When I complained, he blamed ME for touching my hair. And not surprisingly, I faced retaliation for speaking up.
When I was 4 my dad told me that all good girls swallow. I thought he meant vegetables.
When I was 17, we were at Walmart at the jewelry counter for god knows what. For no reason at all, when the lady behind the counter was talking to him, he grabbed both of my boobs from behind me and said, “if she wasn’t my daughter…”
I could tell you about the bazillion men that have happened before, between, and after these moments, but this is the catalyst.
Social media can be so tricky. It is often used so differently given the person or day. Everyone has their own motives or agendas. Often viral posts have pop culture momentum or seem to be what everyone is doing. I’ve spoken out about harassment instances before, I’m outwardly outraged with how our society treats men who violate women, and the whole “act like a lady” vs “boys will be boys” mentality is disgusting.
As a new mom I find myself wanting the best for my little one. I want the world to be worthy of him. So when I posted “me too” I wanted that moment to make people sad, uncomfortable and angry. I wanted to be a part of a moment and hope it becomes a movement. A beginning of change. A start where we believe and are outraged when we are told instead of question the victim. I didn’t want to bring focus to my particular instances. I don’t give that power to the offenders anymore. I don’t let their vileness enter my thoughts or sway my confidence. But I wanted to post in solidarity. Because it does happen to all and any of us. And it shouldn’t.
Me, too. And, while it may be common, it’s not healthy, “normal,” or acceptable for those who have been hurt or those who have injured. If you need help figuring out how to deal with a situation past or present, ask someone you admire and/or seek out a therapist. While we carry all of our experiences with us and some shape us more than others, what other people have said or done to us does not have to fully define who we are or can be in the future. Neither does what we have said or done to others.
Find some good people and grow, little by little, if necessary, in love and trust with them.
We find greatest satisfaction in the freedom of relationships characterized by mutual respect, admiration, and compassion.
“Perhaps that’s what all human relationships boil down to: Would you save my life? or would you take it?” Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
It’s more important than ever to continue the fight for equality. Sexual assault and harassment is often overlooked because people say it’s “just boys being boys.” The current administration keeps taking away more of our rights and tries to regulate our bodies without listening to us. And with men like that in power, all the demented ‘he-man woman haters’ think it’s okay to treat us however they want. The worst thing we can do right now is remain silent and sweep assault and harassment under the rug.