There are the “me too” posts. The posts that have been circulating on social media to increase awareness about sexual harassment. I have been reading every post and every time my heart would break. Part of me would cringe. But I would scroll away. I could not comment. I didn’t want to. I haven’t wanted to post “me to”. I had this unrecognizable urge NOT to post. Why wasn’t I joining in? Why wasn’t I cheering these brave women on? I’m all about women’s rights and empowerment. Why wasn’t I connecting to this cause?
So many times I put my phone down and moved on with my day. But the overwhelming posts stared at me everytime I got on. After a couple of days, the disconnect was bothering me so much that I sat down and thought to myself “I want to know the reason I cannot like these posts? I have never been raped or grabbed from what I remember. Maybe I’m too soft to deal with these issues. Maybe I can’t deal with this reality. Reading others pain hurts too much. I can’t acknowledge how common this is. This hasn’t happened to me.” Then, I remembered.
I remembered being at a friends house and having her older brother show me a porn video and Playboy magazines in first grade. The filthy scenes and the petrified feeling sitting on their couch flashed before me. I don’t remember if anything else happened and I don’t want to. I remembered climbing a tree with a family friend a few years later. And as I sat a few limbs above him looking down as he prodded me to push aside my wide leg shorts and underwear to show him my vagina. I must have been 10. Middle school and high school memories where I was alone with groups of boys prodding me to lift my shirt, talk about sex, or have sex. And then there are so many memories of men yelling, or honking. And the memories just flowed from there.
The truth of it is, is that if posting “me too” is too hard, it’s ok.
And it hit me, so many times in my life have I been sexually harassed and prodded that this was normal for me. And so for a long time I’ve chalked my feelings just up to that, normal. They have been so normal to me that up until this “me too” campaign have I ever even labeled these actions as sexual harassment. And by the pain, I realized that often when they happened I would bury the negativity inside me and ignore it.
These messages of “me too”, they hurt me. They brought back these feelings. Gross sickening pain that has been buried deep inside of me. Even the prodding and pressuring made me feel sick and less than human back then and still does. And now recalling these feelings I realize why I have not wanted to post. It is true, reading others pain hurts me. Reading others moments of sadness, stiffness, discomfort, and fear brings back the feelings that left me paralyzed.
The truth of it is, is that if posting “me too” is too hard, you are not soft like I first thought I was. You are not weak and I know now that I am not. And if it is too hard to post, it’s ok. It is really ok. And I’m so sorry.
Even now I’m scared to hit the “publish button”. It’s so much easier to write about birthday parties and crafts. But I know that in order to work towards change women need to speak up when they can. Women need to stand together. We cannot push the filth under the rug. And we need to share for the ones who cannot. The ones who still cringe and are petrified at the thought of “me too”. We need to demand change so that “me too”s are not the norm. They cannot be allowed to be and I am so proud of all the women who have experienced far beyond my own and shared. You are my heroes. You are my voice. Thank you.