Me too, me too.
Recently, Alyssa Milano tweeted: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” Me too, me too.
Earlier today, I went for a massage with a friend because it’s been a stressful month. I’ve only had one other massage in my life and that was right before our wedding. I thought it’d be great, what a good way to relax. The problem was that I couldn’t relax and I couldn’t clear my mind. I’ve always had that problem. That’s why I can’t do yoga or meditate. I spent the larger part of sixty minutes thinking about Harvey Weinstein and the brave women that came forward. I started thinking about the time I was searching for an endocrinologist. I’d just gotten health insurance again, I was in a place where I needed to take my diabetes more seriously. The one I found, well, he was on the side of the dinosaurs and I should have gone for a younger doctor, started a long-term relationship instead. But this doctor took my insurance and was affiliated with a good, reputable hospital so I went.
During the visit, he asked me to undress and gave me a physical exam, including a breast exam. I was uncomfortable, even before I changed into the gown but I didn’t say anything. He’s the doctor, he knows what he’s doing. It was only after I left that I started thinking about the appropriateness of it all.
I googled it and I wasn’t the only one who had that kind of experience. One woman did and she was comfortable with her doctor’s care. That’s her right, that’s her experience. Here I am, though, still thinking about it over two years later and you don’t keep thinking about something if you’re comfortable with it.
Even now I wonder if I’m overreacting.
He’s a doctor, I still repeat to myself. He knows what he’s doing.
But I’ve been to plenty of endocrinologists before and after, and none have them have asked me to undress. None of them have examined my breasts. He’s an older doctor, maybe that’s what he was taught.
(I think of Harvey Weinstein when I try to convince myself of that. “I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.”)
Growing up, I had a clear, concise vision of who I was going to be as an adult. “I’ll never be that woman,” I confidently said. “I’d never stand for that kind of mistreatment. I’ll speak up.” I can tell you I was wrong. I can tell you how to stew inside, to hide your discomfort and bury it to make other people feel more secure.
“Why don’t you ever smile?” The man at my corner bodega said. “Smile,” a former male co-worker said.
Smile smile smile smilesmilesmilesmile. It is exhausting.
A construction worker catcalls me. I start crossing the street to avoid them.
“Why don’t you send me nudes? Or talk dirty to me via text?” A former boyfriend asked. “It makes me uncomfortable,” I answered. “But I’m your boyfriend,” as if that’s enough to change my mind, as if I owe him my body. He begins to emotionally and verbally abuse me and everything I love about myself begins to chip away. When we broke up, he called me a cunt and a bitch on the internet.
A female co-worker made a rape joke to another female co-worker. “You’re always dressing too proactively, it’s like you’re asking for it.” We should all be like Mayim Bialik, I guess, and dress modestly. Let me tell you that a hoodie and sweatpants won’t protect you from the leers, from assault, from rape. From men in power.
I was at a play with my mom. “Give me your phone number, baby,” a man said. “I don’t have a phone,” my phone in hand. Another bought me a drink, despite all the times I said I wasn’t interested. He bought me a drink and I drank a few sips, and tried to walk away. “What do you mean you won’t go back to my room with me? Bitch.”
A boyfriend made me dinner and expected us to have sex afterward just because he made a meal.
I know, I know. Not all men. But maybe the onus shouldn’t always be on women to speak up. Plenty of men knew about Harvey Weinstein. Men with clout in Hollywood, like Brad Pitt. Maybe, just maybe, if you hear or see something, say something.
Maybe we’ll arrive at the point where women won’t have to say “me too, me too” when they hear another woman’s story about sexual assault.