Me Too

Me too.

Not once, not twice, not dozens of times.

Thousands of times.

If you haven’t been on social media in a few days, there is a flurry of women coming forward with the words “Me too.” The call to action was a post that said in part-

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

I’ve read so many posts from my friends, some brief and some heart-wrenchingly long, and I felt called to share my story as well.

When I was six years old my cousin and I who both had super short hair were physically pushed aside by a couple of older women so they could get to my younger sister with her curly blonde hair so they could rave about how beautiful she was. Ah. Girls need to have long hair and they need to be beautiful.

When the boys in middle school snapped my bra strap this fueled my suspicion that my body and my feelings about my body were not my own.

When a man tried to rape me at nineteen I blamed myself. I shouldn’t have worn that outfit, and I shouldn’t have gone into a room alone with him.

When the men in the Army National Guard who didn’t want women in the military disparaged me within hearing distance and laughed raucously I simply pretended I couldn’t hear them. I was on their turf. I had to be careful.

When a man who is in a position of authority over me said a couple of months ago when I didn’t immediately voice an opinion on something when he asked- “Just like a woman. (You) don’t know what to say. Just like a woman.”

When ALL the men (and women) over the years have said some version of- “You’d be so much more attractive if you just smiled.” I’ve thought, Oh. I need to be nicer. That’s right. Women need to be NICE.

And so much more.

I learned young that in order to make it in our society I had to steel myself before I left the house every day. To watch where I went and when. To temper my voice and my opinions so I wouldn’t offend not just the men in the room but the women who were trying to make it in a man’s world. I learned how to pretend not to hear. Not because it was the right thing to do but because it was… easier. It was easier than getting in a fight, than defending myself, than standing up for what I knew was right. It will blow over. This too shall pass. They don’t really mean it. Boys will be boys.

I agree that bringing awareness to the magnitude of this problem is a step in the right direction.

And I could end this post here and I might have friends leave a Heart Icon in the comment section or even a {{{{{{{HUG}}}}}}}

But my story doesn’t stop there.

Yes. I have been the victim of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

But if you were to ask me if I’ve ever been the perpetrator of sexual harassment I would have to say, “Yes.”

Me Too.

In my past I admit that I have gossiped and called other women a B**ch or a Sl*t . In doing so I was not only harassing the woman I was talking about but I was also influencing whoever I was talking to, man or woman.

I’ve seen other women being harassed and I’ve said nothing.

I have been part of the problem.

And, then there’s one of my biggest secrets and deepest regret-

When I was in sixth grade my family moved to a new town. There was a girl in my new class who was physically fully developed and the other girls used to make fun of her. I remember so clearly being in a group of girls surrounding her on the playground chanting terrible things at her about her body while she stood there sullenly, shoulders slumped, hearing our cruel words in her soul.

I knew what I was doing was wrong. I felt it in my blood. But I wanted to be cool. I wanted to be liked. I wasn’t the instigator, I was just a follower.

Years later I ran into this girl and felt my face flush with shame. To my great surprise she lit up with joy when she saw me. I wanted to apologize, to assuage my own guilt, but I didn’t want to make her revisit something that she may have forgotten or released. So, I smiled and made small talk with her.

A few years ago, I earned a Master’s Degree in Spiritual Psychology. I’ve forgiven myself for my actions in sixth grade. The truth is that I was doing the best I knew how to do at the time.

But, as Oprah says, “When you know better, you do better.”

Now I know better. I can’t change the past but what I can do is take responsibility for my actions in the future.

I can take ownership of the way I speak about other women. I can speak up when I am the victim of harassment or when I witness harassment of another woman.

I have a voice. I will use it.

Me too.

  • Erin Herdeg Kociela

    Beautifully written, Laura.

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