Woo, a lot going on in my world and all around that I want to talk about, but today I am driven to comment on the “me too” meme that’s been going around Facebook and social media in regards to women talking about their (far too common) experiences with sexual abuse and harassment. I think it's so important to talk about this and I'm glad there is more awareness than ever about sexual violence and rape culture, but I’ve been hesitant to join in and say “me too”, for a couple of reasons.
First off, let me say that of course, me too. Every woman everywhere, as far as I can tell, has had to deal with unwanted sexual attention and either the threat of or actual experience of sexual violence, and we really need to talk about it as a culture and commit to changing the power dynamic in the way that men and women relate to each other. However, what has made me hesitant to chime in and say “me too” is that—for whatever reasons—I am one of the lucky ones. I have never dealt with a sexual assault more serious than groping, and for that I am profoundly grateful.
I am also one of the lucky ones in that I have never had to deal with any serious, ongoing sexual harassment at my workplace or school environment or in any other place where others had significant power over me. Which is not to say that I haven’t had my share of catcalls, comments, jokes, gestures, hazing, and persistent unwanted attempts at sexual contact—that’s so common as to be hardly memorable, sadly—or of course been affected by rape culture and the general culture of the over-sexualization, degradation and dehumanization of women. I am well aware (hello, Women’s Studies degree) of the fears constantly generated and reinforced by our culture that attempt to keep women in line, keep us constrained and cautious and limit our choices and our power. I have swum in that sickening soup of fears all my life. I have the same threat-alert radar that every other woman has about my surroundings, and the people I come into contact with.
But even despite that, I’m lucky. And privileged. And I know that. In fact in some ways, I guess you could say my hesitance to jump into this very important conversation is because I have survivor’s guilt—why NOT me too? Because I'm a fat girl? We all know that doesn’t really protect one. Spending most of my time in supposedly “safer” neighborhoods and activities? That is certainly no guarantee either. Strong, loving and supportive family circumstances? (I got lucky there too.) Maybe those all contributed, maybe I just got really fucking lucky. I don’t really know, it’s impossible really to know. But I do know that this is a time where I have wanted to make sure other people’s difficult stories were heard and respected rather than jumping in to share my own, however empathetic that may be as a general conversational tactic.
So let me just say that I’m listening to the stories of my sisters and brothers who have dealt with sexual abuse, assault and harassment and I empathize. I feel the pain and I am appalled, angry and upset on their behalf. I am committed to continuing to have this conversation about why, when, and how these abuses of power (and bodies) happen, to shining a light on the problem and to strategizing solutions. Me too.