I’ve been conflicted about whether or not to share my “me too” story. I have felt yucky remaining silent, yet I don’t feel safe posting to Facebook. There is something about the medium itself that has kept me from speaking up.
I thought about writing something here on Invoke, but I didn’t want to feel the pressure to share something “well written” or to have it become about the result or output. I’ve also grappled with the possibility that I’m feeling some pressure to share because everyone else is—like is this really what’s right for me personally, or am I caught up in the energy of it? I've gone back and forth many times since I first saw the "me too" call to action in my feed early last week: "If all the people 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."
I’ve connected with a number of women in my life who have shared similar concerns and other hesitations. Some have said that Facebook is too public with family, friends, and coworkers, or that the idea of this personal information living on the Facebook server for all of eternity gives them the heebie-jeebies, or that they’d like to share but more anonymously. Others have said they don’t want to create drama by having related people see the post, or that they have survivor’s guilt around others who may have suffered more extreme abuses.
Yet ALL of our stories matter. There is nothing that is “too small” or “too much” to share. As one wise friend advised me, it’s about whether or not sharing is empowering to me or you individually as a woman. It’s about standing up for safety, boundaries, and respect. I came to the conclusion that even though I wanted to share, Facebook didn’t feel safe enough to me.
Through the counsel of dear friends, I decided to create this space on Invoke. Here we’ll hold a safe(r) space (yes, it’s still the internet) where you and I get to decide how much and what we want to share. Below is a submit form, where we invite you to write as much or as little as you want to have posted. You are free to include a full story, a “me too,” or anything in between. You are invited to share your name or let us know if you prefer anonymity. Please do include your email address, which we will keep completely private, in case we have any questions or clarifications. We will add your responses into the text below and moderate this post to only approve comments that are respectful. And if for any reason you change your mind and want your post removed, we will do so promptly.
So all that said, in service of standing up for the sacredness of each and every human life, please share with us if you feel it would be empowering and safe for you as a woman.
I’ll go first:
The waves are pouring in; Facebook is an ocean,
tears held back too long
Me too’s — streams of grief coming together
breaking the dam of silent, alone,
in doubt of our own bodies.
To these rivers of women’s suffering, I offer my own:
Age 17, sexually assaulted by high school boyfriend
Age 19, drugged and raped by a coworker
Age 20, groped by a man in the street
Age 25, coerced into sex by a community leader
Catcalled more times than I could ever count
Taught to question my own experience
"What now?," people ask.
Now we see. Now we grieve.
Not My Fault
Went to a high-class salon.
Thought I was safe.
Sexually assaulted while I was on the massage table.
Should have been safe.
56 years old at the time.
There are no age boundaries on sexual assault.
Should have been safe.
Small Incidents Add Up
The time I was 7 and my babysitter made me lie down in the bathtub naked and spread my legs so he could look at me.
The time my grandfather grabbed my ass at my 8th grade graduation.
The time I was in high school and an 80-year-old Tony-award-winning actor took an "interest" in my budding acting career. He wanted to coach me for my drama school auditions and was very upset that my mom accompanied me always at our meetings. He did try to give me a massage and managed to slip in some wildly inappropriate comments while she was in the next room though.
The time in college when I was studying abroad in India and a man whipped out his private parts in the street and started masturbating while yelling in my direction.
The time in my early twenties when my stepdad's best friend told me I could easily make money as a stripper if I wanted to.
The time in my early thirties when a seasonal contractor at work verbally harassed me then told me not to complain because the last female staff member who spoke up was fired. Then the following year when I was pregnant he continued the behavior just to prove he could.
Me too..and nearly every female I have known.
Uncovering A Dark Earth
I've lost count. I learned the hard way how to keep myself safe. I've traveled solo and that's been a nightmare to find out that everywhere many of the men are willing to insert their dicks while I'm not interested. I hate this.
I've also been places where I couldn't work because of immigration status. Guess what? I became a prostitute, once. Not that I've agreed prior to meeting this perv. Give me a break with politics while I can't even walk safely on the surface of Earth because I've crossed a border & am suddenly deprived of my right to make money which I need to be safe. Prostitution is as horrible as you might think.
Once, a dude I liked got me pregnant, I didn't ask for it: then he treated me like shit & threatened to kill me (and he knows about killing) because I freaked out about it and opted for abortion (the worst act of torture I've ever endured), considering I couldn't find any support or safety with him or the environment (again, I wasn't in my birth country and was an unprotected stranger for it).
To all those that abused, raped me or attempted to, and to all administrations: hi, I'm human too; we're Equals whether you apply/admit it or not. Let's rehumanize each other at all times, in our most ordinary interactions & in the social constructs we use so that we can actually live together on Earth.
I love us.
All under the auspices of work…
At age 19, my first "serious" job interview a major gallery owner in New York City with grandchildren older than me brought me into his office alone, closed the door, asked me to sit on the couch, sat tightly next to me, barely glancing at my resume and tried to get his hand up my skirt. I jumped up, shocked and tried to run out the door, which wouldn't budge. He made a joke about "not locking me in" and jerked the door open. I ran out and past the reception area desperate to scream out "you're disgusting!" to the entire staff. I didn't. I walked, furious, for many, many blocks to make it back to upper Manhattan, trying not cry. I stopped, because my feet were killing me in my heels, in front of a church. Glancing into a doorway of the church was a man openly masturbating.
Again by my agent, constantly texting me for "meetings" late in the evenings at hotel bars. When I asked him outright if these were dates, he said: "I don't know." I told him I was leaving the agency right before I booked a big commercial. He then stole my cut of the commission.
Again by a producer who I met in a cafe and "wanted to help me." Came to his house for a meeting, worried and suspicious, he then introduced me to his wife and children which relaxed me but then forced a kiss on me moments later. I balked and swiftly left. I never heard from him again.
Again by a writer in a busy hotel restaurant who, when he tried to force a kiss and I denied him, threatened to carry me to his hotel room and "ravish me." I left that waste of a meeting. Then he stalked me for a while.
Again by a film financier who thought our meeting was a date. Hands all over. When I denied him, he said, "ok, ok, I want to help you anyway." He didn't.
I went to my best friend’s house for a party. His roommate locked me in his room and raped me while the party was happening downstairs. I didn’t tell anyone at the party and just left afterwards because I didn’t want to create problems.