Over the weekend, a FB meme started to make the round. Basically, women started posting “Me Too” if they had been sexually harassed or assaulted, as a way to show the genpop how freaking common it is.
So, first of all, yes – it’s common AF. But – and I’m not an apologist – but, there’s a massive spectrum of behaviors and intentions between “Those fraternity guys cat-called me” and, “When I was nine my next door neighbor made me touch him”. And they’re both bad, but I’d say not equally bad.
Does making that differentiation make me a bad feminist?
Here are the two times I was harassed.
1. Age 13. I am on an elevator riding down from the top of the Eiffel tower, and this French man, Philippe, who is in his 30s is teasing me, and I'm uncomfortable. He has a date with him – they’ve both been drinking, and a classmate tells me he’s looking down my dress. The rest of my classmates close ranks around me, and eventually, we get off the elevator. And it was weird, and confusing, but it was a lifetime ago, and it did not affect my ability to return to Paris and enjoy the living hell out of it. Twice. And to this day, I second guess the whole thing because I don't know for sure he was looking down my dress... I was likely overreacting. So maybe that one doesn't even really count. And I could actually ask someone who was there, who I'm friends with, who would possibly remember it, but would almost certainly think it's strange that 30 years later, I'm wondering about it. So, let's put that one aside.
2. Age 14. Bible Camp. I am walking one evening with a guy from my small group. A little backstory – I am having a miserable time at this camp. You go to camp with your Church Youth Group - that's your core team at night, and during the day, you split up into small groups - folks from other groups all over the Southeast. My roommates have decided they hate me and have ganged up on me. Later in the week, they will dump ice water on me as I sleep and I will wake up enraged. I attempt to befriend two young women who, like me, like to sing. They are vaguely polite, but I realize I was basically in their way. I was a big deal in the Middle School Youth Group, but this, my first outing with the HS Youth Group is going poorly. Everyone seems to hate, hate, hate me. I have been told by several boys that I cannot participate in their late night rap sessions – I can sit and watch, but not talk. Honestly, this backstory was not part of my initial harassment narrative – that comes later in the week – but all of this was as detrimental as what happens next. I don’t think I ever realized that until just now. I spent the whole week being assaulted. Wow. To hell with those jerks. Anyway – because my own church group has basically blackballed me, I am relying on my small group (strangers, lots of strangers) for support and comfort. I’m walking one night, I suspect to get ice cream because, well, this is me we’re talking about, and there was an ice cream shop at this camp (held on a college campus). Anyway, I come across a member of my small group, and we start walking together. He leans over and whispers in my ear, “I’d like to fuck your brains out.” I made some sort of lame excuse and got the heck out of dodge. At the end of that week, after an emotional meltdown, I tapped out on Christianity. This one counts, for sure.
Sure, there that time in Montreal where Roy, who I met on the street (after he and his friends started chatting with me) invited me to coffee, and due to language barriers, we were halfway to his apartment before I realized we weren’t, as I had thought, going to a café somewhere. I extricated myself from that beautifully, though. And Roy, to his credit, didn’t make it hard for me to beat feet.
|Don't give it up for anything less than a few Timbits, ladies|
So, you know – in a lifetime, I’d say I got through more or less unscathed.
And I know a lot of women (and some men) who had far worse happen to them. So I feel bad even saying, yeah, “Me too.”
I also feel like people would see my status and think, “Riiiiight… Allison got harassed. "
Well, I did.
And it was a long time ago. And clearly, it barely affected me. Barely enough that I got a stomachache writing about it.
So, basically - I got harassed. I feel bad for calling it that. I got harassed. It took me years to identify the extent of it.
I haven't been harassed in awhile and I wonder what's wrong with me that I'm not getting harassed more often.
Which is kind of a lot to put on Facebook.