Last week, the hashtag #MeToo (here’s an article about the original creator of #MeToo) was trending across social media after numerous reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment came to light against Harvey Weinstein. People flooded the internet with their own stories of harassment and assault, to show just how widespread these occurrences are, and how we as a people have come to normalize these abuses of power as commonplace. I have thought and thought about whether or not to share my stories, and when I posted my #MeToo, I chose not to include details.
After a week of deliberating, however, I’ve decided to put out into the world my #MeToo’s.
#MeToo: At the age of 11, I was told I looked like a slut. I transformed from a care-free child to being fully aware that the outside world will only see me as a sexual object to be possessed and controlled.
#MeToo: At age 15, comments and requests were made to me because I had bruised knees. Battle wounds from a sport I loved turned into innuendos of sexual favors.
#MeToo: From age 20-22, older men, who worked for the same organization as me, gawked while myself and other women tried to perform our responsibilities, made comments about how only young, attractive women should be hired in my department, make excuses to block my path and get so close I could smell their stale cologne.
#MeToo: At age 22, one of the men that falls into all the behavior above, cornered me while I was at a desk, perched on said desk, and then put his hand on my thigh.
#MeToo: At age 23, I was informed by an older male member (approx. 65yo) of the pool I was working at that, if I just had a boyfriend I would not be so stringent about the rules because I would have an outlet for all that tension; insinuating that I wouldn’t let him participate in dangerous breath-holding exercises that were not allowed at the facility, because I just needed to have sex.
#MeToo: At age 23, a date wouldn’t take no for an answer.
While these instances are by no-means brutal, they happened. And I have too many people in my life that have had much more traumatic experiences. I think that too many people stay quiet when the individual experience doesn’t look like something that belongs on Law & Order: SVU, or Criminal Minds. My truth is that these instances have shaped the way I interact with the world. These experiences are why I have a really hard time trusting, why I feel like I have to be in control at all times. Because the people who have left scars were people in power, people I felt I couldn’t say no to (for fear of some kind of retaliation).
That is what sexual harassment and sexual assault do: make a person (me) feel as if you (I) speak out then your (my) whole world will come crashing down. But no more. I refuse to be made to feel small because I occupy space. I refuse to hold my tongue and stick to the status quo when liberties are being violated.
That is why I #MeToo