I posted these words too.
“If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote 'Me too' as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
Writing “Me too” would signify that sexual harassment or assault has impacted your life.
I have been sexually harassed in more than a few situations over the course of my life.
When I was a teenage girl walking down the street with friends as men beeped and called out to us, making me feel gross, and even more uncomfortable with my changing body than I already felt.
When I was in college and had too much to drink and felt like I couldn't get out of a situation I was in with a man, even when all I wanted to do was get away.
When a good friend, who I trusted, broke that trust in a way I don't even feel comfortable writing about—hurting me, confusing me, causing me anger.
When I sit here and think about times in my life when I've been sexually harassed, unfortunately, many examples come to mind. And so many other women, women we all know, have their own stories.
My mother is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. My sister is a rape survivor. We've shared stories with one another of unwanted kisses and come ons, of weird texts and messages online.
It kills me that my mother, sisters, friends have had to deal with these disgusting, unspeakable, heartbreaking acts.
And these are only a handful of women I know about. Just because one woman feels comfortable enough sharing her story doesn't mean the woman next to her doesn't have her own story, hidden away.
I feel okay with talking about this stuff to some degree. I'm more confident in speaking up for myself. I am married to and loved by a good man who makes me feel safe and beautiful. But when I think about what I've been through, and what my mother and sisters have been through—and then about my three beautiful, innocent, joyful daughters—I'm terrified.
I can't let them grow up in a world where they're scared of men.
I don't want them to grow up in a world where they feel like they have to let inappropriate behavior slide because “that's how the world works.”
I can't have the “boys will be boys” mentality exist in our world.
I don't ever want them to feel like they have to use their looks to get ahead—I want them to understand the beauty of their intelligence, their creativity, their imagination.
So what can I do? What can I do for my girls, and for my nieces and nephews, on a daily basis so that they grow up in a world where women and men are equal, where they never have to accept unwanted sexual advances, where they feel safe?
I can start by teaching them about body safety. That their body—and all of its parts—belongs to them. That they never have to kiss or hug someone if they don't want to. That they are in charge of their body, but that mommy and daddy are also here to help protect them. And listen to them. And believe them.
I can teach them that other people's bodies are theirs, and we need to respect that. We can talk about things like how you can't touch or hit or bite another person's body. Or if you want a hug from someone, you need to ask.
I can model respectful behavior to other adults and children who I come into contact with on a daily basis so they see what that looks like firsthand.
I can model body confidence by never complaining about being “fat” or how my clothes don't look good on me. I can show them what feeling secure, confident and beautiful looks like by believing it myself.
I can teach them about the words “no” and “stop”—how to use them and what to do when someone else uses them. If they don't like what someone is doing, or they don't want a hug or kiss from someone—I want them to be empowered enough to use those keywords. If someone is asking them to stop or saying no to them—I want them to understand that their behavior stops immediately or they do not proceed with say, a hug or a kiss, even if they really want to.
I can show them what a loving relationship looks like. My husband and I can model what respect, trust, kindness, and deep love looks like so they see how to treat people they want to be in romantic relationships with (and vice versa.)
I don't want my children to grow up in a world where sexual assault and harassment is a regular part of people's lives. I don't want it to be something they have to worry about. I want to shield them from the ugliness of the world.
I am writing “me too” so my children don't have to.