I woke up this morning to an incredible amount of women posting “Me too” as their status update. I’m appalled, sad, disappointed and…confused.
I’m not confused with the typical “how is this still happening?”, “why is this still happening?”, “how can we stop this?” type of questions. I’m confused because I don’t know if I know what constitutes sexual harassment. Easy does it, feminists…breathe and keep reading.
Don’t get mad at me because I don’t know. My concern is that I know I have been sexually harassed (a lot) but because it was such a “normal” occurrence in my life, I have until now, just chosen to overlook it and brush it off.
This makes me reluctant to post “Me too”.
So, the craziest question keeps popping into my head “Is my level of sexual harassment ‘enough’ to post ‘Me too’ as my status update?”.
What if what I’ve gone through has made me stronger, more resilient, more determined? I know that I accepted it at the time and although it disgusted me, it made me the strong woman I am today. I’m not grateful for it, but it did happen. No, I don’t think sexual harassment is okay but I’m confused because if I post “Me too” and the sexual harassment hasn’t caused me to crumble, am I taking away from women who have gone through something so much worse than a few lewd comments, stares and disgusting conversations?
Here’s the thing: I often feel like status updates such as these are meant for the victims of terrible occurrences. I don’t feel like a victim. At all. I feel more empowered and stronger than ever. So, I don’t want to take away from those who feel that they are victims of sexual harassment or abuse.
I don’t want to offend anyone. I absolutely don’t want to condone sexual harassment. But, I do want to take a few moments to step back, re-evaluate and make sure that when I post “Me too”, I’m being honest with myself, with the world and most importantly with my daughter.
Was what I went through even sexual harassment or is there a “lesser” title I can put on it? How do I know? And, if I knew then what I know now, would I change my reaction?
Most importantly, how can I educate my daughter on what to do when it happens to her (because, let’s be honest, seeing all those “me too’s” has me resigned to the fact that she will)? If I don’t know how to step up to the plate and type “Me too” because I don’t know what constitutes sexual harassment, then what’s the point? I want to learn.
I think most viral updates have a purpose and I hope the purpose of this one isn’t to gang up on men and call them assholes, bastards and complete human scum. Although, absolutely, some should be called out. I hope the purpose is to bring awareness to the issue and educate ourselves and future generations as to what harassment and abuse look like in all shapes, sizes and forms.
It is “okay” for me to minimize the sexual harassment I went through because I’m made of tough stuff and I handled it easily? Is it okay that I wasn’t appalled by what happened, that I reflected on the moments I know I was harassed and stood taller, worked harder and pushed further? Is it okay that I used harassment as a way to show that even if their conversations were inappropriate, it didn’t affect me negatively? And with all that being said, is it okay for me to write “Me too” as my status update?
Again, I’m not at all condoning sexual harassment, but I need to understand the purpose of this update. I need to know that when I write it, I’m helping and educating and not becoming a part of a “let’s hate all men” movement. I’ve seen many women sexually harass men they work with, so that can’t be my reason.
As I reflect on my education and my career, I am certain that I’ve been sexually harassed. Sadly, I believe most women have probably experienced it in one form or another. So, how do we move forward? What’s the game plan? How can I educate my daughter on what’s acceptable and what’s not? And, in my case, I’m uncertain whether I should post “Me too” because I know my “level” of sexual harassment doesn’t even come close to what some women have gone through, let alone comparing my experience of sexual harassment to those who have suffered abuseabuse?
And, isn’t is crazy that I just wrote this blog post asking “Is my sexual harassment enough”?
I am more confused than ever and I guess that’s a good thing. Now I’ll search for answers. Not necessarily for myself, because I feel strong and empowered but for others who have had a different experience and honestly, because I’ll do anything to make my daughter stronger, more vocal and more aware of the situations she’ll go through in her life.
Am I the only one confused? Am I the only one hesitant to write the status update? I’m okay if I am, but I’m wondering if this was a difficult thing for others to post for reasons other than they went through a difficult time and are relieved to find support.
This article makes me sad. All harassment is enough and wondering if your situation is just as good as everyone else’s makes it extra sad. That said, I was there. I was “only” in the relationship for a year and a half. We were in a relationship so does it “really” count? If we’d had sex on occasion and then I said no and he forced it anyway does it “really” count?
It’s taken me 12 years and lots of therapy to be able to say that it counts. We all count. You count.
Lindsay Gee says
Just trying to wrap my head around the labeling. Sexual harassment means different things to different people, is what I’m taking away. I’ve never felt violated and I’ve never been touched when I haven’t wanted to be. Thank you for your comment, it helps put things into perspective. I wish you all the best. xo
I was most definitely sexually assaulted in high school and the boy had no idea what he was doing was wrong – I was too embarrassed to say anything and I doubt he even questioned it. I actually forgave him years ago because I truly believe he was a decent person who just didn’t know any better.
That said, I changed my status. I think the point of the status change is to demonstrate how prevalent sexual assault and harrassment are, and that until we get out from under the vail of qualifying our experiences (does it count because it wasn’t “Disclosure” level harrassment) it’s never going to be seen as a common issue.
Lindsay Gee says
Yes! I think the awareness this status update has brought has been incredible. For myself, I’m learning a lot about where I stand, what I want for my daughter and my hope for the future. If one status can help with the conversation(s), I think it’s pretty damn incredible. Thank you for taking the time to comment. xo
Lindsay Gee says
Yes! I think this status can and has already opened many conversations. I am sorry that you went through what you did and kudos for you and forgiveness. I appreciate you taking the time to share with me your experience, it helps. I wish you well. xo
My response to the status on FB has been “I think 99% of women on FB feel this way. At different levels & to different degrees.” I agree with you, I felt if I posted this status, I would be diminishing the horror some women have experienced.
Lindsay Gee says
I agree. In some way, shape or form most women have been harassed. And, yes, that’s incredibly terrifying and sad. Thank you for your comment, I appreciate the support in my continued confusion. xo
I don’t think this is at all about being a victim but more about bringing awareness to this problem. The stats are astounding if you look at them. I don’t see myself as a victim! I see myself as a strong independent woman who may have been victimized by an incident but none the less. I pose this question: why do you as a woman feel as though any level of sexual harassment should not be brought to attention because it might not be that bad? It doesn’t matter what the sex of the individual is that has been sexually harassed or abused either way it’s wrong!
Lindsay Gee says
Thank you for your comment, I appreciate continuing the conversation! I never said that I felt as though any level of sexual harassment should not be brought to attention. If you feel you’ve been harassed or you’ve been in a situation where you’re being harassed or abused, I absolutely want it out in the open. I definitely don’t want women to hide this and I love that this status update has so many conversations flowing. My confusion is from my own response to situations in my life. If I didn’t feel harassed, was I? If I took the power and owned it and didn’t consider it as harassment then do I write “me too” even though I haven’t felt sexually harassed? I agree with you…sexual harassment and sexual abuse is wrong, no matter what. See…I’m still confused.
It’s going to take me some time to work my way through this one. But, I support this movement and am appalled at the number of women I know and love who have shared their stories with me today. Whatever needs to happen, I’m in with my support, through all of it.
Lisa Sauve says
Sexual Harassments ARE the step down from Sexual Assault. Harassment is unwanted sexual comments, touches and/or behaviours that continue even after you address it head on. Your level of resilience is not a determination of the severity. Think of soldiers who were side by side in combat. One comes home seemingly unscaved, while the other develops severe PTSD. Is that to say one is less a soldier or less exposed? No. Resilience is a product of many things, a noun and a verb. If you bounced back stronger, all the power to you. If you say the same things happening to another, like your daughter, how would you label it then?
Lindsay Gee says
Okay. Yes. Yes! Thank you. This comment helps…a lot. I am so very grateful to you for framing it this way. Thank you for taking the time to respond and help me work through it. Truly, this is beyond helpful. xo
If a person isn’t bothered by something and no harm is done… then it isn’t harassment.
If a person is bothered by it (and the other person was acting upon a reasonable expectation that you wouldn’t be bothered by it) … then it isn’t harassment.
Those are two examples of what it’s confusing. Because the message is now that those things are harassment.