From that time that I was minding my own business as a 9th grader fresh out of Catholic school with my face buried in my locker. Just putting books away, dressed conservatively in khaki pants and a turtleneck, when a kid I met only once from homeroom walked by, slapped my ass and whistled loudly. I walked into the principal’s office, broke down in tears, embarrassed for losing it over such a “little thing” and told him what happened. I actually felt the need to defend what I was wearing as “not being a slutty outfit.” I go through all of this only to find out he was only suspended for a few days and then, to my horror, placed in the seat directly behind me in homeroom for the rest of the year so I could listen to him joke with friends about ‘the incident’ every. Damn. Morning.
To that time I was told at work, in front of my all male co-workers who said nothing in my defense, that I was only hired because of my tits and ass.
To that time when I walked into my six month review in a position where I was already feeling a bit self-conscious and under-qualified, and was told by my boss as soon as he closed the conference room door he wanted to marry me and would quit his job on the spot if only I would date him. Trying to hold it together and find it in me to climb over the shock of his statement, I politely said in a direct, professional (but not too offensive way), “no thank you” and tried to steer HIM – my boss – back on track to complete my review.
I walked into work the next morning, not only dealing with the insecurities and stressors of the new job, but now piling on the most awkward atmosphere of the previous days’ encounter. Not being able to explain to my teammates why I was acting strangely. Now, questioning every time my boss was quiet, agitated or annoyed I worried… was it work related or was it because I wouldn’t date him? Trying to figure out a way to navigate this double bind, no-win situation on a daily basis. Going to HR and speaking up would mean interrogation, intense awkwardness, severed team dynamics and most likely a job loss for one of us (and let’s be honest – as the newbie it would have been me). Whereas dealing with it internally, walking on eggshells and biting my tongue on a daily basis seemed like the only option at the time.
To all the mornings walking along a construction site just trying to get to work. Being cat-called for months until that damn parking lot was finished. In an effort to make my mornings a bit more tolerable, I tried it all. From ignoring them, politely joking back and then finally asking them to just stop – none of which worked.
To the creepy guy who waited for me after yoga class even when I stayed behind to see if he would leave ahead of me. He followed me out to my car and straight up asked me where I lived and if someone was at home waiting for me. I hopped in my car quickly and drove around town repeatedly checking behind me to make sure he wasn’t following me home that night. The next morning when I contacted the studio to let them know about the incident in an effort to keep other clients from experiencing the same thing, I was told by the female receptionist I must have been overreacting and simply “misinterpreted his vibe.”
So yes – Me Too.
As a women’s studies major, I’ve researched, discussed and written papers about these types of situations. It’s so prevalent in society that my few instances sometimes don’t seem worthy of being in the ‘Me Too’ category. Sad to say, but at this point in life, I’m one of the lucky ones who have only endured such “trivial incidents.” Some experience much, much more. Sometimes it feels like I’m looking at my experiences through an observer’s lens, but when I think back to these specific moments, of which there are many more (probably too many to list here), the memories take me right back. I feel them as me – not an observer – and they feel awful. They may seem trivial to some, but the fact that I can remember them in such vivid detail after many years says to me that they aren’t at all trivial.
So yes. Definitely. Me too.