The phrase has been unavoidable the past few days. There is so much to unpack. While the weight of sexual harassment and assault again falls on women, it is also empowering to witness so many speaking out. It is a testament to how strong, how resilient, how incredible we are.
In discussing #MeToo with my husband one evening, I realized I had been groped so many times in my life so far, it was impossible to count. The next morning, he had to pick me up from the subway (another MAT debacle), and in the few seconds it took me to get into the car, a man on the street walked up to me to say something about my ass. It was so common place, I barely noticed. In the car my husband said, "Did that guy just say something about your ass?! I'm getting out." I casually replied, "Maybe. It's the first of many times that will that happen today. I don't notice anymore."
When I do notice is when I am out with my three year old son - just because I am hyper aware of my surroundings when with him. For a period of time, I began to sternly say "NO!" when men catcalled. I don't want my son to think it's ok, and I also don't want him to feel unsafe walking in our city alone with me. It felt great for a while, then it became exhausting. I just couldn't keep up - and I also had to judge situations based on our safety.
I don't know where this is going, but I see you, wonderful women - surviving, thriving.
Men - stop asking why we didn't do anything, stop asking why we didn't tell anyone, stop saying we should do something about it, stop doubting us, stop telling us we're emotional, stop talking over us, stop diminishing our experience. Start listening.
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1987 ©Deborah Copaken