In the wake of the NY Times article revealing allegations about Hollywood Mogul, Harvey Weinstein’s, many, many acts of sexual harassment and assault, people are outraged. I have been feeling a bit numb about it…not numb in the sense that I don’t care, but numb in the sense that I feel yet another wave of helplessness over the horrible things that we human beings are capable of doing to one another.

My feelings of helplessness are heavily compounded by this…

If a man can be recorded bragging about sexually assaulting women “because he’s famous” and “doesn’t even need to ask” before “grabbing them by the pussy” and he can be elected to the highest office in our country, how can we find anything related to the degradation of women shocking anymore? Isn’t it just a bit…hypocritical to be outraged? Millions of Americans gave Trump their vote – essentially saying this man is worthy of representing us all. 

He speaks for us. (Let that sink in.)

Many people have taken to social media about the Weinstein story. It is everywhere on my Facebook news feed – what he did, to whom, and who may or may not have known about it. As per usual, there are many who condemn the women who have (until now) kept quiet about their experiences with Weinstein. Hypocrisy is rampant there, too. Why would anyone be eager to admit to something so incredibly humiliating when chances are they will be scrutinized and maligned for it?

Wow, wait a minute.

Do you see what I wrote there?

“…eager to admit to something…”

Even sitting here writing, in complete support of those who have been the victims of sexual assault, I inadvertently used language that is victim blaming in nature.

Fascinating.

Last night I was looking through my Facebook feed and I saw that a friend had posted this message…

“ME TOO. 

If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too.” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.
Please copy/paste.”

I sat there looking at it for a moment, and realized I was holding my breath. Yes, “ME TOO” but I wasn’t ready to follow suit. I felt too uncomfortable to step forward publicly and be counted. I thought to myself, well let’s see how this plays out. Maybe if it takes off, I’ll get some courage.  I watched as others posted this status – other brave women I am proud to know, and yet, I didn’t do it.

I clicked under the comments of each of these posts and saw many other women who, rather than posting it as their status, had written “me too” – there, hidden in the comments. Had they missed the instructions? Maybe. Maybe commenting on someone’s else’s status was a compromise between writing nothing and making the “ME TOO” their own status.

Still, I did neither.

Me, who has pretty much revealed every emotion under the sun to those who are reading, and yet I remained silent about my own experience. I became complicit in the culture of silence around sexual assault.

This morning I was reading an article about how important it is for people who have a “platform” to speak out about injustices, even if that isn’t their niche. I don’t have any delusions of grandeur about my impact, but I know that I do have some. My most popular blog entry was read by almost 3,000 people; my least popular, by 50. My impact is not necessarily far-reaching, but what I have learned is that sometimes people (even just one person) reads the exact right thing at the exact right time. Maybe my blog will be the one right thing read in the one right moment by the one right person.
So, I am going to muster the courage this morning to redeem myself for my absent “ME TOO” by telling you my story.

I was eighteen and a sophomore in college. For the first time I was living in a co-ed dormitory. It was only about a month into the school year, so we were all still getting to know one another. There was a football player who lived down the hall from me. I hadn’t really spoken to him much, but he was quiet and handsome, and he seemed nice enough.

I had been out at a party with friends, and I had had a few beers. A friend of mine drove me back to the dorm afterward. I had asked him to give me a call when he got home, so I’d know he’d made it there safely. I remember walking down the hallway to my room, and seeing this handsome football player standing outside his room. I smiled at him and said, “Goodnight.” I’m guessing it was obvious that I had been drinking.

I went into my room and climbed up onto my top bunk, pulling the phone up next to my pillow (yes, I’m old…the phone had a cord and was attached to the wall). I hadn’t locked the door to my room. I drifted off to sleep.

When I woke up, the guy from across the hall was heaving himself onto my bunk, and laid down beside me. In a split second I was effectively trapped between him and the wall. The room was dark. I couldn’t breathe. I remember thinking “If I resist, he is going to hurt me. If I pretend this isn’t happening to me, maybe it won’t.”

I didn’t scream. I didn’t yell at him to leave.  I’m not sure why.  Was I scared he would cover my mouth before anyone would hear? Was I afraid I was overreacting?

He asked if I would massage his back (sound familiar?).

Then, the phone rang…and I grabbed it.

“I made it home,” I heard my friend say.

My heart raced. This was my chance to get out of this. Still I was afraid to name what was happening to me – I couldn’t make the words come out.

Naming it might make it so.

My friend on the other end of the phone seemed like a far off lighthouse beacon that I was desperately trying to reach, as I fought to keep my head above water.  Yet I wasn’t fighting at all. I was paralyzed.

I don’t know how long I was silent.

“Are you okay?” my friend said at last.

{No, I am NOT okay!! HELP ME.} I screamed silently.

Somehow, he heard me.  He knew.

“Do you have company?”

“Yes,” I managed to say, meekly.

“Do you want company?”

In a flood of relief, I felt the emotion catch in my throat as I replied, “No, I don’t.”

“I’ll be right there.”

I had been tossed a lifeline, and I grabbed it. I hung up the phone and said, “That was my boyfriend, he’s on his way over.”

That was it. He was gone as quickly and stealthy as he had appeared.

Afterward, I felt ashamed that I hadn’t defended myself. I felt like a coward.  Even still, there was a part of me that thought – well, he didn’t actually do anything to me (aside from completely terrifying me).  This is the society in which we live – the culture we pass down to our daughters – that a virtual stranger can enter a young woman’s bedroom, climb into her bed while she is asleep – and the woman can be left feeling as though maybe she is overreacting. After all, who could possibly speculate about his intentions?

Maybe he was just in the wrong room.

Maybe he got lost on the way to the bathroom.

Maybe he just needed to borrow some floss.

Maybe by smiling at him and saying, “Goodnight” I had implied that I was up for a visit – in the dark, in my nightgown.

A few days later I told the RA (Resident Assistant) in my dorm about what had happened. She was a friend and I trusted her. She filed an anonymous complaint on my behalf. I’m not really sure what this entailed – whether it was literally “filed” somewhere or if some actual authority figure was told about it (I think not).

A couple of months after that, my friend the RA let me know that something more serious had happened with another young woman and this particular young man. He claimed they had had consensual sex, yet she had blacked out and had no memory of it. She just woke up in his bed, naked. She had liked him, everyone knew that. She had gone into his room voluntarily, AND she was 100% sure she hadn’t consented to sex. (Tip – that makes it rape). My RA wanted me to come forward and add my story to the conversation. What had happened to me gave credibility to the other woman’s story in the eyes of the powers that be.

The disciplinary committee at the University asked each of us to write a statement about the events in which we were involved. I wrote down what happened to me in detail. She wrote down what happened to her, and he wrote his accounts of each incident as well.

The police were not called.

The Dean told me later that I was lucky.  He said that the young man (the rapist) had inadvertently confessed in his written statement.  He had literally written that he was confident that the young woman with whom he’d had “sex” was, in fact, conscious and consenting because he repeatedly woke her up during sex…to be sure. 

That’s right – the University had in their possession a written statement in which one of their students confessed to raping another student, and they saw no need to take legal action.

Instead, the rapist was removed from the co-ed dorm and he was forced…to live in the all men’s dormitory.  (Gasp.) That was it.

Problem solved. Justice served. Hands washed.

I know that I am not to blame for what happened to the other young woman, but there is no denying I was complicit in my silence. Chances are I am not the only other woman who had an encounter with this particular sexual predator. Maybe if we had all stood up and vocally called him out, maybe someone could have been spared. At the very least I feel that I should have warned the other women in my dorm that there was a predator amongst us. But again, I second guessed myself. I worried that maybe I had overreacted. (Clearly, I hadn’t.)


Intellectually I understand that we as women (and MEN) need to find the collective courage to stand up and say –

THIS IS WHAT SEXUAL HARRASSMENT LOOKS LIKE!

THIS IS WHAT SEXUAL ASSAULT LOOKS LIKE!

THIS IS WHAT RAPE LOOKS LIKE!

Let there be no confusion! Call them out by name!

And yet, over two decades later, I hesitated to write a simple “ME TOO.”

FOR. SHAME.

NO MORE HYPOCRISY.

I STAND WITH YOU.

ME TOO.

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