Posting #Me Too Does Something, But Not Everything:

Awareness is only the first step, but it’s a crucial one. Unfortunately, there are a myriad of reasons why a victim might not want to come forward: emotional trauma, fear of not being believed, fear of consequences for their career, not wanting to become the poster child for sexual abuse. The reason #Me Too matters is because it encourages victims to tell their stories by creating a community of support and solidarity. Is it a solution? Of course not. That’s not the point.

Social media status campaigns often get flak for “not actually doing anything”, but all they’re really designed to do is get people talking. In fact, by sparking debate about effectiveness, they actually open the door to conversations about real methods of change. I will concede that they also have the downside of giving individuals an inflated sense of virtue. The mentality that by posting something political one has “become involved” and can now feel better about oneself is a dangerous breeding ground for complacency. Still, I can’t help but believe that someone who takes the time to make the post (however insignificant it might actually be) is still doing more than the person who complains that said post is meaningless, but then does not take action themselves.

So #Me Too, because it happened and it shouldn’t have. Because we need to talk about how to ensure that it doesn’t happen again to anyone. Here’s my story, or at least the part I’m ready to share:

Sexually Harassed? Of course. What woman hasn’t been? Sexually assaulted? No…almost? What’s in between harassment and assault? I’ll just say there were things that took place that I did not give my consent for. Even scarier to me, there were things I allowed to happen because I felt as if I owed something or I because I felt it was easier to let happen. I didn’t want to hurt their feelings, was afraid of the backlash, the questioning, didn’t want to seem uptight, uncool, or like “all the rest of the girls”. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, because comparatively speaking it wasn’t that bad. This is how pervasive rape culture is.

I considered myself a feminist at a very young age. Throughout my schools years I gobbled up information about powerful women, stayed up to date on the latest trends in feminism and social justice in general. I’ve always excelled in academic settings. Intellectually, I knew all the rhetoric, the proper advice to give, the maxims to stand behind and fight for. The real world however, is a different story.

In my interactions with other people, especially in social situations, I am for the most part fairly awkward and passive. The most common description of myself by others? I am really quiet, but really nice. What two adjectives could be more vapid? I have grown and improved over the years. With broad leaps that made me think, “Hey, maybe I’m normal now!” and backslides that have made me feel like that little preschooler who everyone assumed was mute.

Still, with all this self-knowledge, I never thought I would be the girl who just let it happen. But knowing how you should be treated and actually demanding that you be treated that way are two different things. As any post grad will tell you, school doesn’t really prepare you for the real world.

I’m not asking for sympathy or even justice. I just want to be able to trust myself again. I want to be able to trust myself to not stay silent. I have done things I am not proud of, taken stupid risks, but that still does not mean I deserved any of it. Our culture doesn’t just silence those who speak out, it silences those who haven’t yet spoken. It’s not just about fear, it’s about believing that it was actually your fault. The things is, no story is too small to tell. From catcalling to rape, none of it is acceptable. I am done feeling guilty.