22 Oct Me. Too.
Oh. You too?
Yah. Me too.
It’s a conversation I’ve had with many friends, many times. But the first time I talked about it, I was ice skating with one of my closest friends. Round and round the rink we skated,?slowly gliding across the ice. We were 13 or 14. And as we talked, two more friends joined us.
It first happened when I was five
and twenty six
There would be other times.
harassment, unwanted advances and manhandling, lewd commentary.
Skating that day with my friends, in that safe space, in that safe circle, I learned it wasn’t just me. and they learned it wasn’t just them.
I’ve always maintained that the number was bigger than what anyone thought, bigger than the statistics told. Watching my social media feeds fill up with the same two words this past week I find myself not at all surprised by the number, but saddened. As each status update blazed with the words “me too,” I found the warrior in me readying for battle. Silence is no longer acceptable. We must speak up.
I can hold my own.
I have no problem putting someone in their place when met with unwanted advances. I was sitting in a bar with one of my nearest and dearest many moons ago, I was 22, when a fella walked up to me, said hello, and pressed himself against my knee. I looked him in the eye and said “get off me.” He feigned ignorance, “what…”
“You know what.”
He played dumb.
I looked at my knee, then stared at him again, and said “get your dick off me.”
He turned red. Fumbled over some words. Half-mumbled an apology and slumped away. He was kicked out of the bar five minutes later when our bouncer friend learned what happened.
Several years later, while living in New Orleans, I went downtown for Mardi Gras. Bourbon street was packed. People moved through crowds like slow sardines.
A line of boys advanced toward my friend and I, and as they moved past us, a boy grabbed between my legs, then swiftly vanished into the wave of people. I turned to admonish him, was grabbed again, and again. Five total. Not the normal ass grabbing that I would have expected in a crowd like that, at an event like that, but a full frontal grab.
I was stunned.
What the fuck.
Mardi Gras is a different world. New Orleans is a different world. I was glad I wore jeans.
We kept walking. Grabbed a beer. Found a quieter street for a few minutes.
All these events have shaped me. starting with age five.
but none of them define me.
I do not hate all men because of what a handful have done to me, whether by clouded judgement, curiosity, or the inability to tell right from wrong. I am not sure what makes men think it’s okay to fondle a woman without permission. Or what makes women feel like they can’t say something about it. These things need to change.
harrassed. fondled. molested. raped.
It’s happened to me. It’s happened to many people I love.
How do we stop it? I don’t know. but it starts with speaking up.
I am not intimidated.
I am not a victim.
I am not broken. I am reinforced.
My power is not stolen. It is strengthened.
I am not damaged.
I am a warrior. I am a goddess.
And I am not the only one.