I remember when #MeToo was trending and not feeling brave enough to insert my own addition to the hashtag trend.
I knew that I had been among the women who felt uncomfortable at times with her own sexuality and treaded lightly to avoid being too seen by the men surrounding her.
As I read stories of other women feeling ashamed and burdened by the weight of carrying around these feelings of #MeToo, I wished I could have been brave enough to share my own stories and join in on the conversation. For me, the shame was too great and still today there are things I would like to bury and not think about or bring to light.
I, too, have some insecurity around possibly wearing shorts that are too short, for fear that I may make a man look toward me and that might entice him to have a sexual thought or idea about me.
What does that even mean? Well, that I believe men have so little self-control that they would look at me in a sexual way because of how I dress, and therefore, I should cover up, and be more modest.
I, like most women, have had men catcall and say obscene things to me while walking down the street, and never really thought twice about it until #MeToo came to light. I reeled back and opened my eyes to the harm this does when I saw women turn around and give a man the finger or when they spoke up for themselves. I thought that I should think of it as some kind of honour, and I didn’t realise how ridiculing and objectified it made me feel as a young girl.
When, as a child, I was taken into the woods by some older boys and humped—I didn’t know it was wrong of them and that I should tell someone. When I was tag-teamed by multiple boys as a young girl, I tried to live in the moment and enjoy the attention and affection. When at 12, a boy and I walked into a bedroom and he pushed my head down there, I didn’t know that I could say no and walk away. I opened my mouth and pretended to know what to do with this foreign object, while feeling sick to my stomach and with such remorse the following days.
In seventh grade, I heard a girl in the locker room say her goal was to have sex with a boy by the end of the summer—I made that my goal, too. I never learned about purity, what a temple a young girl’s body was, and how virginity was sacred.
When I was jumped at a carnival, around the same age, and beaten and kicked down, I even blamed myself that my shorts were too short, and I was attracting too much attention from boys, and that’s why those drunk girls hated me.
I spent many years as a teenage girl in dark closets and hiding out in boys’ rooms having sex that was not really mutual. I didn’t have a voice. I just assumed this is what girls did.
At a job in my late teens, I had a boss who would bring me into his office to bend over and write in front of him on a white board propped against the wall, so he could “admire my ass.”
While also in my late teens, I got a job at a strip club as a waitress, because everyone was doing it. I was shocked when I saw women in the dressing room with one leg on the counter exploring their lady bits. I wondered why I didn’t have the same loving familiarity with my body and saw my own as something to be hidden and shameful.
Over the years, it has taken time and discipline to let go of old ideals that no longer serve me or women in general. I have had to remove feelings of lack and inferiority as a woman. I have had to learn that I am a fierce being with a brain—and not just a vagina. That I am worthy of love and nurturing care coming from a significant other and particularly from myself. I am able to slowly let go of the idea that I am not worthy unless I have a tight ass and perky tits.
In this modern world, the awakenings are real. Women are waking up to the indignity that is no longer serving us a species. We want to be seen for who we are and not for what we can offer our opposite gender. I was too scared to say it then, but I will say it now here for all to see: #MeToo