I made a brief Facebook post at the start of the #MeToo campaign but want to flesh it out more and talk about the feedback I got.
I was raped repeatedly by my best friend’s father when I was around 9 years old. I didn’t even have words for the body parts that were being violated, so, like many victims, I blacked out the experience. I didn’t remember it until I was around 15 — the day’s sermon was on sexual abuse. “That happened to me,” I thought calmly. Little did I know I would spend over 20 years recovering from that to the point where I could consider myself a survivor. My sister found my rapist’s home address as well as news stories saying he’d been busted for abusing other children (he served 10 weekends in jail — obscenely epic fail, “justice” system!). I wrote a letter to his local newspaper with as many verifiable facts as I could, knowing they wouldn’t publish anything but knowing they are the most plugged-in people in the community. I also sent a letter to him starting, “Dear Thing” and ending with “I SEE YOU.” I signed it “Persephone.”
When I was 13 and 14 all the kids would get to school early and walk the halls. The boys would go one way, the girls another. As we passed the boys would grab our crotches. I had already started being violent after I was raped, but now I systematically beat up every boy who violated us until they left us alone. My last fight was with a guy named Steve who had grabbed my friend Sue. “If you want to get to her, you’ll have to go through me first!” while shoving his shoulders. He took a little bit before crying uncle.
In my twenties I can’t tell you the number of guys who showed up from my past or present and who assaulted me. I never should’ve opened the door to anyone. It was crazed. By that time I just froze or tried to weasel my way out of their grabby hands.
In my thirties men tried to dominate me in the business world. I have my own business and can’t count the number of meetings I was in where the men tried to take up all the space and downplay my contributions. Little did they know who they were dealing with! I have been known to take over whiteboards. I am grateful this is as bad as it got — my getting the job and retaining it has never been tied to sexual favors or harassment as it has been for so many other women.
In my forties I consciously limited my time with men but I still couldn’t escape. One day in the library I was just totally engrossed in this fantastic book about Richard III when I felt some pressure on my foot. Ignored it. Felt it again. Vaguely aware someone was pushing on my foot. Ignored it (I really dug this book). AGAIN. Finally I moved my foot. Still the pressure keeps coming. Finally I am wrenched out of my haze and see a man across from me masturbating. He asked me if I wanted to suck his dick. “Uh, no.” Tried to go back to my book. He leans in and says, “Are you sure?” So I unleashed my wicked tongue and in my best Region vowels said, “Fuck off, pal.” I was furious because I had been having such a lovely time with my book. And now here’s this totally self-involved guy who thinks that simply because I’m female he will be irresistible to me. Oh, I could go on, but suffice it to say I was more infuriated than traumatized, thank the Goddess.
And of course, there are the countless times I’ve been walking down the street like anyone else and some asshole starts out with, “Hey, baby—” That’s usually enough for me to whip around and get right in his face and say through gritted teeth, “I am not your property.” Or if I’m in a hurry I flip him off. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened.
I have been raped, sexually assaulted, or sexually harassed in every decade of my life. I am about to turn 50. Will men finally leave me alone??
That’s a brief rundown. I packaged up these experiences into a few sentences and posted it on Facebook with the #MeToo tag. Got lots of sympathetic responses and offers to pray for me. Pray for me? For me? I’m fine! Pissed but fine. Pray for the fuckers who can’t keep their hands to themselves or their dicks in their pants. Pray for the assholes who invade my space. Better yet, call them out. Hold them responsible. I am not the victim here, I am the survivor. And I’m tired of men getting away with what they’re doing. Yes, men are rape and harassment survivors too, but the vast majority of the problem is men. Sometimes they’re sick and twisted but mostly I think they just feel entitled. Entitled because no one every told them not to do it. That there would be consequences. That we simply don’t behave that way in a civilized society. That they should stop being assholes.
I feel deep compassion for the women who are putting their reputations and careers on the line by calling out the gazillions of men who have crossed the line. Thankfully, I don’t have to deal with that. But I’ve had to deal with enough. Men, can you please step up?