By now, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have heard of the “Me Too” movement. But just in case someone is reading this who doesn’t know what this movement is all about …
The “Me Too” movement is a movement against sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Many people believe that this is a somewhat new movement that started around the time that Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual misconduct. They may think that it was started by Alyssa Milano, who took to Twitter soon after the allegations against Weinstein surfaced and encouraged women who had also experienced sexual assault and/or harassment to reply to her tweet with #MeToo. She wanted it to be very clear to the entire world just how widespread this issue has been and continues to be.
Nothing against Ms. Milano, but the truth is, this movement was actually started by Tarana Burke, an African-American social activist, back in 2006. In 1997, Ms. Burke had met a 13 year old girl from Alabama who had opened up about how she had been sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend. At the time, Ms. Burke didn’t know what to say to the young victim. But looking back, Ms. Burke has said that she wished she had told the girl “Me Too”. Because of this young girl’s story and others like it, in 2006, Tarana Burke founded the “Me too” movement to raise awareness of the pervasiveness of sexual abuse and assault on women in our society.
At the time that Alyssa Milano took to Twitter to encourage others to share “#MeToo” she hadn’t even known about Tarana Burke. But she later acknowledged learning about Burke’s movement, and Ms. Burke has been supportive of the hashtag #MeToo.
Back in 2017, when the #MeToo movement was spreading, I didn’t add that hashtag to any of my social media accounts. Not because I myself didn’t have a story. I have a number of them, in fact. I didn’t acknowledge that I was part of “Me Too” because I felt my stories weren’t “bad enough” to be considered “Me Too”.
With everything that has happened within the past couple of months around the nomination and then confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, I realized that while I may not have been raped (thankfully), and while I may not have been in as bad of a situation as Christine Blasey Ford, I am one of the millions upon millions of women out there that have been the victim of sexual assault and sexual harassment. New studies estimate 81% of women have been (or will be) victims of sexual harassment or assault during their lifetimes. I realize that my stories DO matter. They matter because if women like me, who have had things happen to them don’t speak up, if we don’t DEMAND that things change … then they won’t.
If women like me don’t speak up, then people like Brett Kavanaugh will continue to get confirmed to high level jobs. If we don’t speak up, then “men” (quotes intended to emphasize that this lowlife is far from being a real man) like Donald Trump, who brag about grabbing women by the pussy, who brag about sexual assault, will be put into the highest position in this country, even though the majority of people really didn’t want him, and even more so now, don’t want him to be President!
So, here are a couple of my stories. It is in no way all that has happened to me. But like Dr. Ford, these have stuck with me for my whole life!
I was a 17 year old high school student. I was heading to visit my sister, who was away at college. I was on a bus, heading up to SUNY Binghamton, sitting about midway back from the front of the bus. I was in the window seat on the left side of the bus, reading my book. A guy got on the bus and sat down beside me. I could smell the alcohol emanating from him. I just ignored him and kept reading my book. We were about an hour outside of the city when I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked over and saw that this drunk, disgusting pig was masturbating next to me!! I stood up and attempted to leave the seat. He quickly zipped his jeans and wouldn’t let me past, repeatedly saying “No, no, I’ll stop, I’ll stop. Sorry, I’ll stop”. I actually started to scream at him to “GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY WAY!! LET ME OUT!!!” The bus driver heard the commotion and called back towards me, asking what was going on. I told him “This fucking asshole was masturbating next to me!!” With that, the driver pulled over, and kicked the guy off the bus. Middle of the highway, middle of the night, the guy was told to get out! Thankfully, that bus driver didn’t ask me “Well, why were you sitting with him?” “What did you say to him?” “Well, boys will be boys.” “Well, he didn’t actually touch you”. Thankfully the bus driver was not Brett Kavanaugh, Lindsey Graham, Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, or anyone like them! He believed me, even though by the time he had gotten to the back of the bus, the guy’s pants were zipped, and the creep denied having done what he had done. The driver asked that I sit up closer to him for the rest of the ride, so he could keep an eye out for me and make sure I was safe. That driver was one of the good guys!
Cut to a few years later after I was out of college, and I was spending the weekend with my friend out on Fire Island. On our first night there, she and I had gone out to the bars. I wasn’t that thrilled with the bar scene, actually. The bars were all extremely crowded, and being only 5’0” tall, I was basically at armpit level. It’s not fun to not be able to see past the wall of people around you. It’s also extremely loud, and so I had trouble hearing my friend, or anyone else I tried to have a conversation with and had to shout to be heard. But, it was “the scene” so I went along with the crowd. When we finally decided to head home, towards the very end of the night, my friend asked if we could stop off at another bar. She needed to talk to a guy friend of her’s who was a bartender at this other bar. Sure, why not. It was on the way back home anyway. We got the bar, I got introduced to the bartender/friend. They started talking about whatever it was she wanted to talk to him about. It was much less crowded, being the end of the night. I was leaning up against the wall, waiting for her. I was tired! I closed my eyes as I waited. And then I felt it. Someone had their hand on my left breast!! I opened my eyes, and there was this drunk asshole, grinning ear to ear, as he was squeezing my left breast! I grabbed his arm, turned towards him, and kneed him in the nuts!! While he was doubled over, his equally drunk asshole friend started to yell at me. Seriously?? Your fucktard buddy just sexually assaulted me, and you have the nerve to yell at ME?? My friend, and her bartender/friend came over to see what the commotion was all about. I relayed my story. The guy denied ever touching me. The bartender/friend told the two assholes to just get the hell out of there. I had wanted to call the cops. But bartender/friend dude didn’t want to deal with the cops. He told me “Eh, they were just drunk jerks.” Bartender/friend was NOT one of the good guys. At the time I was too young to know better, so I let it go. After all, he ONLY touched my breast, and it was over my clothing anyway. (please re-read that last sentence with dripping sarcasm if you hadn’t done so the first time)
Yes, they were drunk jerks! But as an adult I know that this is not an excuse! Looking back, I should have insisted! But I was young. I didn’t want to create any issues for my friend with her bartender/friend. Plus, I wasn’t sure the cops would have believed me anyway. And what if I got arrested for kneeing the jerk in the nuts? I did what every victim of sexual harassment and sexual assault does. I rationalized! It’s what society has taught us to do.
That drunk asshole should have been held accountable for his actions! If someone gets behind the wheel of a car when they are intoxicated and gets in an accident and kills someone … do we say “Eh, he was just a drunk jerk?” Being a drunk jerk is not an excuse for letting someone get away with driving drunk. It’s also not an excuse for sexual assault!
Cut to present day (in the sense of within the past year or so, not in the “TODAY” sense). I had been dating a guy. We had gone out about 4 times. He seemed nice, although he did have this air about him that made me think of college frat boys. But he was a gentleman, as far as I could tell. I mean, 4 dates and he hadn’t pushed me to be physically intimate, since I wasn’t ready for that. He wasn’t like a lot of guys I come across these days, who seem to be looking to just see how quickly they could get into a woman’s pants. As least I didn’t think he was. That is, until one evening, I was coming home from work and the temperature outside had dropped dramatically while I had been in the office that day. I sent him a text … “Wow, it’s REALLY cold out!”, to which he responded by asking if a certain part of my body was “hard”. When my response was to ask if he was seriously going to ask me that, and how old was he?? … he tried to turn it around and say that “I” had no sense of humor. See, this is how it is in our male-dominated society. If a guy acts like a jerk, and we don’t put up with it, we are to blame! We are too uptight. We are making too big a deal over it. We don’t have a sense of humor.
NO, WE ARE NOT UPTIGHT, WE ARE NOT MAKING TOO BIG A DEAL OUT OF THINGS, AND GUESS WHAT, WE DO HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR, BUT YOU ARE NOT FUNNY!!!
The only way women are going to change the story line, the only way society is going to change and not allow this to continue, is to stand up against it. We need to open our mouths, speak up for ourselves and for each other. We need to make our voices heard by making our votes count!!
If you have a Me Too story, now is your time to take back a little of what has been taken from you! Go into that voting booth in November and let your voice be heard!! Make them look at you and tell you that your story DOES matter!!! Let’s change the narrative so in the future, others won’t have something that happened to them to make them say …