I’ve struggled with whether I should post with the “me too” stuff out there.
If all the women 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 don’t think any woman is immune from catcalls and harassing words and comments. Especially when you work in industries like waitressing and customer service.
Most of us have a standard response. For me, it was always don’t react. Don’t let them get a rise out of you. It’ll just make it worse. Leave the situation if you can. Probably not the most effective, but that’s how I learned to survive as a waitress at Montana’s, for example.
But there was one day something happened that went beyond the catcalls.
Many years ago. Probably 12-14 years ago. I remember being on a packed streetcar. The type where it’s a mass of people shoehorned in.
And you have to hold your bag in front of you, clutching it with both hands, pressed up against bodies front and back and beside.
And some stranger reached under my (long) winter coat and grabbed my buttocks.
And in that moment, I was so helpless.
No room to turn around or move. No way to take a swing at someone (which was definitely for my first instinct)
I remember my instinct to freak out. But I most clearly thought “Don’t react. Don’t react. It’ll just make it worse.” So for some reason I just waited and tensed up and froze up.
Because in my mind, who would believe me if I started to make a fuss?
What were the chances of pressing charges or even SEEING who did it?
And what random stranger would support another random stranger in pressing an allegation like that? Because clearly in a “my word against his” situation there was next to NO chance I would be believed.
And whoever that grabby person was stopped thirty seconds later, and I didn’t know what else to do.
So I got off at my stop.
I processed it in my head. I reminded myself that this was a glaring exception, that I knew and worked with many good men, and that I wasn’t physically hurt. (You know, the rationalizations that have some truth and some damage in them).
I was angry at myself that I didn’t yell.
I realized a loud reaction would have perhaps changed the situation. That it called for a different response. I vowed to do something different next time.
I prayed that I wouldn’t become angry about it. I do remember doing that. That this person would find remorse and repentance and a changed heart.
And that they wouldn’t get away with that again but would have their behaviour called out and exposed and flipped out on and called unacceptable.
And I hoped that someone else would freak out when they tried that again.
If that happened today, I wouldn’t be silent.
I’d scream and holler and flip right out.
I’m a little more inclined to think people would back me up these days. That I’m not as alone as I thought I was.
I think I would do that, anyway.
I think I would be backed up, anyway.
I think I might even be believed, even if no one else came forward to back me up.
I sure hope so.