On this Thanksgiving, I’m deeply touched by and thankful for the #MeToo Movement. I have suffered many assaults and abuses in my life, most of which were either ignored by my so-called protectors or I chose to keep quiet about ... until now. Here’s the (short) list:
Age 5: Fondled by a babysitter - one of my earliest memories.
Age 6-10: Sexually abused by a male relative.
Age 16: Held down and groped by a hairdresser while having my hair washed in a salon. My mother insisted I press charges. It was suggested by the police that I shouldn’t wear such skimpy running shorts. My attacker admitted guilt and was placed on probation even though he was a registered sex offender.
Age 17: Asked by a candidate for Congress to wear more revealing clothing when canvassing door-to-door and when volunteering in his campaign office.
Age 18: Raped after accepting a ride home from a stranger at a bar. I didn't press charges because ... see above.
Age 23: Slapped across face by relative and called a whore for the offense of staying out past midnight.
Age 42: Chased around a parking lot by a boss in search of a kiss.
Age 43: Groped by an esthetician while having my eyebrows waxed.
Age 44: Told by man I was dating that if we were to continue seeing each other, he'd need me to lose at least 15 pounds. At the time, my 5-foot-9 frame weighed 135 pounds.
Age 45: Groped by a friend's husband at a New Year’s Eve Party.
Age 55: (two months ago) Witness to a man sitting across from me in a public space masturbating.
My entire life has been filled with microaggressions. The construction worker who cat-called me from his safe perch on an iron beam. The male co-worker who didn’t take me seriously in front of co-workers, then appropriated my ideas. The handyman who tried to overcharge me because he assumed I didn't know what an HDMI cable was or costs. The rare occasions I risked standing up for myself only to be accused of being shrill. The compliments I received on my looks but not my intelligence, service or performance.
These are an infinitesimal number of small cuts that have accumulated over a day, a year and a lifetime, leaving me tired, and at times, depressed and angry.
So, yes, I’m very thankful for the brave women who’ve declared they are “not going to take it anymore.” And, most importantly, that their accusations are beginning to be believed.
Not unexpectedly, a backlash has begun. As heroes and icons get swept up in the tsunami of accusations, some are asking, “Is the goal of the #MeToo Movement simply to bring people down based on politics and hate?”
The short answer is “no.”
The goal is to shine a light on really bad behavior, and poor form, and scary moments for women that derail their careers and scar them emotionally - for life.
The goal is to create an environment where everyone feels safe, and where poor behavior is shunned and unwelcome.
The goal is to ensure that predators - even Bill Clinton - never again flourish while the accuser’s life is ruined.
The goal is to not allow women to be placated by settlements and have their voices taken away with non-disclosure agreements.
The goal is that after the generation of skittishness that is to come, perhaps men will stop behaving badly and women will begin to know their value.
And just as my dad, brothers, uncles and bosses had a chip in their brain telling them it was okay to pat a co-worker on the butt - or worse - the next generation of men will have a chip in their brain telling them where the lines are drawn.