*Moved from my previous blog – 2018*
In light of the viral #MeToo movement, Rachel Brathen dedicated her weekly podcast to her own #MeToo stories.
It baffles me how much I could relate to these stories. Moments when us women are uncomfortable by a man and we freeze. We go through the steps in our minds but our voices say nothing. We wonder what we did to provoke inappropriate comments and behavior. “What could I have said differently?” “Should I have worn that?” “Can I safely walk away?” “How do I get out of this?” “What did I do?” Common thoughts we have in these moments.
For my own benefit I want to recognize some of my own #MeToo moments.
- Age 7 : The time a neighbor was hiding at the bottom of a hill with me and unbuttoned my pants and told me he wanted to see my vagina. Something he would try to do again later in my bed. I remember one afternoon as I was showering my mom told me he was coming over to babysit us. My heart dropped and I didn’t finish washing my body, I didn’t wash my hair, and I immediately got out of the shower because it felt too dangerous to stay in there. He was on his way and I knew I was too vulnerable if I was naked.
- Age 10: Long creepy stares from a man at least four times my age while riding the bus. It was such an intense glare that made me feel unsafe. I wanted to disappear in my seat. I felt like an object.
- Age 13: In the back of a car with a friend my age, her aunt and her uncle (who are in their 40s). The uncle puts his hand on my knee and rubs up my thigh, as his wife is in the seat in front of me. My heart is racing and I’m trying to play cool. I feel like I can’t say anything, I can’t pull away, and I ignore it while actively trying to keep my voice steady when I talk.
- Age 15: The first time I had sex. When I had said no and my body pulled away, but my partner clearly believed I was “ready”. I didn’t fight him on it, I let it happen but I wasn’t present in the moment. I let myself drift somewhere else, I waited for the experience to end and cried about it later that night.
- The many, many other times I said no to a boy but was conditioned to understand that my no’s didn’t actually mean no.
- Wondering why I felt like shit every time I didn’t want to have sex but “allowed” it to happen anyway. I didn’t think I had the right to be upset because although I said “no” it wasn’t like I was raped. They were lovers and boyfriends, and most importantly I didn’t physically fight against it. I constantly blamed myself and made excuses for them.
- Every time I felt like it was my responsibility to be intimate with a man because it was what he expected in that moment. The fact that most times I didn’t feel like I had the right to say no – even if my brain and body were screaming not to do this.
- Each time a man tells me he can “turn me straight” or belittles my sexual orientation.
- Two months ago in a bar when I kindly befriend a man who then thinks he has the right to pick me up and grope my ass again and again. Even at the age of 24 I felt like I wasn’t able to call out the behavior because I don’t want to embarrass him.
Interactions like these are normalized and rarely talked about.
Again, this post is for my own processing. These are my feelings and my experiences. They are real and important, they have shaped me, hurt me, and for some time I let them define me. My plan for the future? Speaking the fuck up next time a someone thinks they have special privileges to my body.