Posts Tagged ‘rape culture’

I didn’t respond to this hashtag when it first came out. I skimmed over it. I tried to dodge it. Ignore it. It took me three days to be brave enough to admit that #metoo. It’s nothing to downplay.

I’ve never even told my husband these things, not because he wouldn’t care, but he wouldn’t have the right words to say and he’d make me either mad or sad. Not that he wouldn’t care, but – words are hard to come by when someone tells you something. he’d be very sympathetic. He knows the pain, shame, embarrassment, self-questioning.

I finally was brave enough to, and most of the responses were encouraging and positive. But, then, I began to see responses (not necessarily to me) from other women. Boys will be boys. Cat calls aren’t the same as all out sexual harassment. A leering coworker isn’t the same as rape. Pull up your big girl panties.

Let me start out by telling you that all of those who have sexually harassed me have not been men. One was a pastor’s wife. I’ve had my eyebrows plucked (as if I had enough hair growing there in the first place!). Make-overs to make me “prettier (but I was already married, so what was the point, again?). I’ve had women look askance at my flat-chest and say, “You should buy a padded bra.” The pastor’s wife intimated I should look into transplants.

I was very careful about how I raised my girls, worrying – almost obsessing – about how they would view themselves. Both of them were more endowed than I could hope to be. I didn’t want them to view themselves as breasts firsts, everything else second. Or butt first, everything else second.

I’ve heard snide male comments as I’ve passed by. “Itty bitty titties.” You want to know how that made me feel? Really? Do you honestly think it made me feel pretty? And cat-calls from cars? Oh, hell, really? Do we have to go there to know that it’s more than boys being boys?? It’s ignorance, plain and simple. Give those assholes the Finger and they’d hoot and act like it was an invitation.

But lets back up. Have I been assaulted? I once hid in my closet behind my clothes when a stoned “friend” of the boyfriend I was seeing wandered back into my bedroom to see if I was “available”. the boyfriend confronted him, and everything calmed down before I breathed and came out of the closet. Said boyfriend was actually married – a truth I learned later, after his wife showed up on my doorstep asking me how I knew him. Asshole.

There was some guy who came to my house and banged on my doors late at night. I could see his truck parked in the alleyway, but when I confronted him – in front of his mother, my boss – he denied it. And she believed him over me. I never unlocked my doors during those sieges. I added a chair under the door handle.

There was the guy my mom set me up with up when I went home for my foster-sister’s wedding. It was all fun and bar-hopping until he became extremely jealous and controlling. I walked out of the bar on him and drove home, explaining to my mother later about his behaviour. I’m sure they never had the same work relationship that they’d had before, now that my mother knew what a total jerk he was.

Or D. D haunts me. She was from “the other side of the tracks” than I was. She claimed sexual harassment by our boss. She told me. She told M. Neither one of us witnessed it, so we couldn’t help her. We believed her. But be her back up in a civil case? No evidence. I told my father about it and he mused, “She’s probably telling the truth.” M & I had fathers with social ties to the community: we couldn’t be “touched”. But poor D was fair game. And my father knew this man was capable of that! But who had proof, outside of she said/he said? That boss would never have approached M or I, out of “respect” for our fathers. WTF?

Someone in one forum said that boys saying things wasn’t the same as rape. She didn’t even include being felt up. I beg to differ. Perhaps it is because I am flat chested and I was rather pear-shaped in my youth, but those comments hurt. They destroyed my self-confidence. Made me falter in my step. Made me loathe my life and my body.

Somewhere along the line. I developed a spine. I came to see my body as beautiful. I met a man who valued me as an equal, and we had children together. I could sense assholes from a distance. There was one who came to work in my office who chose to harass my coworkers. Not me – I was a strong woman figure who didn’t take shit from men, and he could see that in my eyes. But he tried to prey on my coworkers. Tried, being a keyword here.

Because I was in his face. Sometime after the age of 25, I haven’t pulled punches from assholes. You want to harass my girlfriend? Go through me. Because I no longer stand down.

I was raped. I won’t tell you when or how or where or how old I was. It doesn’t matter. I was naive. I was trusting. It took me years to understand what had happened. Typing #metoo helped me acknowledge that ugly truth. I’ve dodged it most of my life, telling myself I deserved it, wanted it, whatever lie we tell ourselves as women.

Boys will not be boys. My husband was not one of those guys. I pray my son is not one of those guys (and if I trust my daughter-in-law, I know he is not). My sons-in-law are not those kinds of men. Most men I know are not those sort of men. This isn’t a “witch hunt” against men, in general. It isn’t even a witch hunt against our past abusers. It;s just a signal to the world – in general – that more of us than we want to admit have been victims.

If you haven’t – I celebrate with you. What a wonderful, blessed, beautiful life you have been given. Treasure that and pass it on to your children. If you have, don’t be afraid to use the hashtag. You don’t have to tell your story. It may bring back memories buried deep that you do not want to deal with (but, you know, you will eventually have to deal with because it affects everything). Get a counselor. Don’t tell anyone but post the blended words and acknowledge the pain.

Do not make my life experiences lesser because you have not shared in them. Do not tell me that the one time I sat in a movie behind my friends, watching them make-out with other 6th graders, while to my left sat some pervert was my imagination. He was real. I never glanced to the left, some instinct warning me against it. My friends got hickies. I ate my popcorn and watched the movie in my own bubble. But I never, ever, looked to my left. And I ducked out of the theater and up the dark streets by myself long before that perv had the chance to fire up his car’s engine.

My instinct told me that I’d dodged a bullet. I trust my instinct.


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