I almost ignored them. I almost didn’t post it. My gut reaction, my first instinct, is not to talk about it. We are taught from a young age not to talk about these things, after all.
The day went on, and more and more of my friends were posting these two words: Me too. I saw how brave they all were, and I felt inspired. I felt that maybe this could be the start of something, just by people seeing that we truly do live in a rape culture.
I was lucky enough to make it to my twenties relatively unscathed by men. The men in my life, my father and stepfather, grandfathers, uncles, cousins, and husband, were all respectful of women. But in college, I was exposed to more of the world. I met a man, and a friendship was built out of pity. He told me he was dying of cancer. He didn’t look well, and he missed a lot of class. I had no reason not to believe him.
I began spending my time between classes helping this guy study and keep up with his school work. I just felt badly for him, trying to make something of the life he had left. But, apparently, he was just a predator.
Over our spring break he sent me an email. He asked if I could get together. I thought he needed help catching up on work, but he then said he wanted to get a hotel room. He wanted me to sleep with him. I replied that I was sorry if he had gotten the wrong idea, but I was married. He tried to guilt me with his death story, but luckily I was smart enough to recognize his game by now. I sent all of his emails to my advisor.
The college handled it well. They immediately kicked him out and warned him that he would be arrested if he so much as set foot on campus. They met with me and asked if they could do anything else. But here is what I felt: shame.
I was embarrassed that I had fallen prey to this kind of person. I felt guilty for having spent time with him when I was a married woman, even though it was innocent on my end. I was so ashamed that this had happened to me and that I had to send all of these personal emails off to be read by so many eyes.
The school advised me to see their counselor, and I am so grateful that I did. She assured me that I had done nothing to invite this person to harass me. She was amazing, but I still told very few people about the incident. I still felt guilt and shame. I haven’t talked about, or even allowed myself to think about it until now.
Rape culture has taught women to keep our mouths shut. To forget instances like this and move on. We live in world where victim blaming is so normal, that when this happened I was actually racking my brain for ways to blame myself. That’s why I am proud of us for the #metoo movement. We are not being quiet anymore. We can’t allow this to go on. Whether you are comfortable actually sharing your story or you just want to leave it at two words, you are helping to show the world, men and women, how prevalent this issue is. It doesn’t matter whether you are the victim of a violent assault, or simply have had something said that made you feel uncomfortable. Either way, it’s NOT okay.
Lets teach our daughters not to stand for this. Let’s teach our sons to be respectful, always. Let’s come together and build a better future.