Of course #MeToo. The simpler question would be — who wasn’t? It is the thing all women know about each other. That nearly everyone of us, at some time or another has faced down sexual advances we did not invite, we did not want, and we did not chose to have.
Sexual abuse/harassment comes on a continum. It is never about sex and it is always about power. It is a pissing contest that makes a man feel more in control of himself, his situation, his place of status within in his peer group and he does not see the woman involved as human. Ever.
The story every woman has is different. The who, the where, the when, the how, the why. But nothing about the multitude of stories out there surprises me or any of my gender. I doubt it surprises the abusers. The only people surprised are the nice guys. They seem to think the world is made up of men, like themselves, who would never sexually abuse another human. They don’t understand the code of silence which exists between the rapist and his victims — reinforced by a society that believes boys will be boys and women are the guardians of the gates to hell.
Women who have survived sexual abuse bend their minds around it in a million ways to be able to claim their lives back. I completely shut out my experiences. Memories were lost and fiercely guarded by my psyche with only flashbacks, PTSD, and an anxiety disorder to prove it ever even happened. Other instances are rationalized by a brain that lives in survival mode. It sorts through what we can think about and what we can’t think about on a daily basis in order to function.
It is not uncommon to freeze — taking our cues from rabbits and other prey animals who live to graze another day. Don’t ever blame a woman for not fighting when freezing is the go-to self defense mechanism wired into someone’s brain. It works. Trust me on that.
But make no mistake. Women who survive are not victims. We do not claim that status. We are survivors. We have lived with this hell — silently for decades. Do you know the kind of strength that takes? To pull yourself together after something so brutal happens to you? To go on with your life? Alone with your pain, grief, and trauma? Sure you do, if you’re 8 out of 10 women reading this article.
Men are never afraid of being sexually violated. It is not on their daily radar. Women know we are always vulnerable. A man who may not beat you, still might rape you. And he might not be bothered by it in the least. Because he didn’t think he really ‘hurt’ you. Because everyone has sex. Because you weren’t even a virgin. Because he didn’t take that long, or at least he used a condom, or… fill in the blank — he’ll find a reason to tell himself and sometimes you — why raping you was ok.
Its good that women are coming forward to let men know — the other men — the good and decent men know, this shit goes down. And it’s happened to nearly every woman out there. We have always needed their help to shut down the abusers, to remind rapists that all women are humans. We are not objects in their power games. We are someone’s mother, sister, daughter, grand daughter, niece, aunt, wife, girlfriend. We own our bodies. No one else is allowed to touch us without our explicit and continued permission. We do not exist simply to be available for them in that moment in time they notice us. We have lives. And we fucking plan on keeping them.
Let’s build a world for my grand daughters and their friends where this is an unecessary and obsolete conversation.