When I heard about the despicable behavior of Harvey Weinstein, I was disgusted but not at all surprised.
I don’t know a woman who hasn’t been objectified (at the very least) or who hasn’t experienced some kind of sexual assault—or even an attempt at a sexual assault by someone they trusted, such in date rape. That wasn’t’ even a term when I was a young woman. When I grew up, girls and boys both gained reputations for being intimate. Students hailed the boy; envious friends, peers, or even a father would say ‘Atta boy. On the other hand, the kids labeled girls as sluts.
#Me too: I am a survivor of sexual abuse. I grew up not knowing or understanding what was happening to me but somehow instinct told me it was wrong and shameful. My mother, so naïve from being raised in a home of a religious zealot, could not even fathom the truth. Once when I was about five or six years old, I told her, “Daddy comes into my room and night and touches me.” She dismissed it, telling me I had to be dreaming. She believed that because in those times, people never spoke about such things.
#Me too: Growing up with sexual abuse teaches you a lot about male behavior at its worst. My seventh grade biology teacher made all the pretty girls with good figures sit in the first two rows. No one questioned it; we did as he told us. He threw the boys and the girls he deemed “unattractive” to sit where they wanted, never mind that some might need to be closer to the front for reading or hearing issues.
#Me too: I experienced sexual assault when I was in high school. Yes, I had already grown up with the blush off my rose—my fucked up father saw to that. Still, I hadn’t expected to go out on one of my first dates, only to have the boy take me to a party, where three large and formidable friends of his helped him push me into a filthy bedroom with a mattress on the floor. I was terrified–and while I didn’t know it at the time–it triggered what I’d gone through in childhood. His ‘friends’ left me to try to pry this asshole’s octopus arms from grabbing me in every possible way, shoving his hands under my brassier, working his way down my stomach to unzip my jeans and get into my panties. It was only then that he became disgusted. I had my period and my menstrual pad showed him that truth. He would have raped me but my period fucking saved me. This boy—a rotten ball of sleaze and filth who gives all decent males a bad name—only then became upset. “Ewww. Gross! Why didn’t you tell me you were having your period?”
He didn’t care about my tears, my yelling “no” at least two dozen times. Having my period saved me from that date rape experience. If I saw him today, I’d tell him what a pig he had been, just in case he hasn’t become enlightened (and looking back, he’s probably a Harvey Weinstein today).
#Me too: Surviving sexual abuse fucks with your head—there is no way around it. I was so fucked up after my childhood that I felt I owed sex to any man who bought me dinner or who was nice to me. I felt that was my job. It had been my whole life, right? Countless times, I opened my legs to men with whom I had no sense of chemistry of physical attraction. I did it because it was easier to acquiesce.
Most of the previous happened when I was at a point of making poor choices in my life. Miracles happened, angels arrived, and my life changed. I went to school and excelled. I whizzed through an undergraduate degree and then I was off to a fully funded ride at a somewhat prestigious university.
Then the unthinkable happened.
#MetooAGAIN: This time it hurt like a mother.
Because this time, it was different. I was at a university, where I should have felt respect and had control over any aspect of my life, including my body. I spent eight years battling the demons of my childhood while I went to school, working so hard to graduate with highest honors and to land that great assistantship with stipend I received at graduate school.
Then a professor—who had authority over me took things a little too far.
#Me too: He sexually harassed me.
However, that time I said no. I pushed his ugly face away from me after he rammed his tongue down my throat when I wasn’t expecting it. At last, I slapped his face with all the force I could muster. I finally said enough.
After that experience, I confronted my father and told him that I HAD WON and that he would never be able to claim victory over my life. I had survived his cruel punishment—the confusion—the shame—the embarrassment for all of my childhood, holding it in. I was afraid to let it out tell anyone since the one time I did, my mother told me I was dreaming.
Nevertheless, I told my father—my (now) husband and I confronted him. I let him know what he did to me and he admitted it—for a moment. Then beloved husband won me over. For the first time in my life, I felt someone really had my back. He stood by my side and I listened to him tear into my father. He fought for my honor–and he has done so every day of the eighteen years we’ve been together.
What happened to #metoo in graduate school was horrible. I expected men to harass me sexually while I was working as a call girl or an exotic dancer. Then I cleaned myself up, I entered the real world—and I realized that men had respected me far more when I was an exotic dancer or a call girl than they did when I was a lowly graduate student.
All the examples above have one major thing in common: the men who committed these despicable acts were all in position of authority. They all had power over me. That’s true with Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and the rest of the assholes who women have had the courage to expose for the filth they are. But with all those men, sex may have played a role but it was power that allowed them the opportunity. Sexual assault, harassment, rape, etc.–they are always about power—to one extent or another.
This is important to remember: there are so many wonderful, kind, and decent men in the world. Most of the men in the world are good, decent people who are respectful of everyone. Like with anything else, the bad examples speak louder than the good ones—and we must remember that most men are great people.
It’s also important to recognize that this happens to men also. Straight men and gay men have all told me their own stories—most of whom never told anyone before me.
The Harvey Weinsteins, the raping fathers, the teacher in high school, the date rape boy, succumbing to the wishes of men because I felt I had to do that—they all still exist. We can all talk about our hurts, our pain, what we’ve been through but it doesn’t make any difference until we ask ourselves the question: