“Oh, God. She’s BACK. Talking about it AGAIN.”
Yes, I am. Because apparently, nothing has changed in four years. In fact, it seems to have gotten worse. The scene depicted in the gif above brought tears to my eyes. I mean, I laughed, sure. The way it was presented was funny and Candice Bergen and Tyne Daly are who I want to be when I grow up. But in this excellently-written moment, they summed up a large facet of being a woman with just a couple of words. #MeToo is painfully universal, and also blindingly quiet.
We don’t talk about it because we don’t have to. Our friends, sisters, and daughters don’t ask us how we know what we know about protecting ourselves because they don’t want to hear the details to the answer they already know.
And who WANTS to talk about that time when they felt victimized? Or, to be more precise, those times. Because it’s rare a woman has just the one story. Those stories really aren’t a conversation starter at a party. No one LIKES feeling like a victim, helpless, or afraid, so everyone pushes it down and normalizes it. If it’s normal, then it’s just something you go through and move on. So, we don’t tell the story, we merely impart the lessons.
I’ve already talked about the wisdom I tried to impart to my goddaughter as she went off to school. But I made no mention of how I gained that wisdom. And, quite frankly, I’m not going to now, either.
Instead, I’m going to direct you to the story of another woman, who shared her story on Twitter. Take a moment to go read the thread. I’ll wait.
Scary shit, isn’t it?
It’s stories like this, and just about every woman has at least one similar story, that piss me off and break my heart. I think everyone can agree that what this man did was reprehensible, if not illegal.
So, how many of you would want to hire him to work for your company? To fix the toilet in your house or make the food on your table? How about hiring him to uphold the laws of this country?
Sadly, as I read this, I counted all the things she ‘did wrong’. She let him in. She trapped herself. She allowed herself to be in a position to be ogled. From an early age, women are taught how to navigate the world to stay safe because men like this exist, but that’s NOT RIGHT. It’s not on her to protect herself. It’s on him not to be a creep. If, instead of manipulating her into a vulnerable position and then verbally assaulting her, he’d hit her when she opened the door and stolen her jewelry, would it be her fault? Of course, not.
Men like this man don’t understand and will never understand that this is wrong. Did y’all notice HE CAME BACK? He got drunk (he probably likes beer), and then decided to come back, probably thinking that maybe she didn’t really have a husband, so she’d be alone (and desperate, because all women without husbands are desperate). She was lucky. She had a husband and he was home. Because men like this only understand when another MAN says, “Hands off.”
She was lucky. I was lucky. Almost every one of my friends has been lucky, and a few have not. She will be afraid for MONTHS after this day, if not years.
And how sad is it that we consider ourselves LUCKY because we weren’t raped and murdered? That we ONLY got called names on the street, or groped ONLY up to a certain point on the subway, or ONLY got scared when a date turned left towards the corn fields where no one will hear us scream instead of right towards people and our homes? Why is this a destiny averted?
He will live his life thinking he didn’t do anything wrong, and she will triple lock her doors every day and every night until she moves, at which point she’ll make sure her address and phone number are unlisted. He will continue doing some version of this until a man sets him right, and after that, he’ll just be more careful to make sure the women he targets don’t have a man.
Do me a favor, guys. If you’ve got a penis and you’re my friend, then you don’t need to defend yourself to me, because you have already shown you aren’t like this man. Keep that up. Teach your sons how to be men like you. Teach your sons that the world isn’t made up of men and women, but just people, who all deserve to be treated with respect until they prove otherwise. Elect people who respect other people and their bodies. Because someone who isn’t afraid to leer or grab someone else doesn’t see other people as people, just things, and isn’t afraid to take their rights and cheat them for their own gain.
And when you see a man acting like this, SAY SOMETHING. Even if all he’s doing is making a gross comment about a woman he’s seen, SAY SOMETHING. Little things turn into big things, so nip them in the bud. The men who think this way will only really hear it from another man.
Lastly, remember, almost every woman you’ve ever met has a story similar to this one. If they don’t, they have inherited the fear from their mother, or their sister, or their friends. Remember that they are afraid and consider that as you interact with them. You will need to prove over and over again that you are not the monster they fear until the day the world is free of monsters. It’s tiring. It’s exhausting. We know.
We know because we’ve been tired for centuries.
But the monsters are running the world, so none of us get to rest any time soon.