I usually start my posts by sharing a personal story. This post is different. I’m not. Today I’m writing about the #metoo campaign that’s populated my Facebook feed this week.
I rose my hand, as did many.
Here is what I posted:
If all 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.
Beauty and sexuality are gifts that should be cherished as divine and sacred. Though I’ve experienced both, what also must be talked about is the other side. The love, honor, and healing I’ve also experienced. This is where I choose to dwell and live. My hope is that this movement on social media of “me too” is not a call to belong based on a shared victimhood but a call for us to bring light to what is true, bringing respect to how we treat one another, and a compassionate attention to our journeys as human beings.”
After watching the outpouring of women stating me too, several Facebook friends have posted on their own walls a question. What now? What’s going to change? What are we going to do differently? Some have brought up concerns of victimhood and questions of blame. Some men are raising their hands and taking responsibility. Other men are being praised for always supporting their women friends. It’s one of the biggest internet discussions I’ve seen. I’m sitting with all of this and I realize a short post on Facebook and raising my hand isn’t enough.
Making the Stories Human
I raised my hand. I was nervous too. I wasn’t going to. A part of me compared what happened to me to others stories and I wanted to assuage it away. I’m not going to. That’s been part of the problem.
It started for me when I was 10 and spent a summer away with “cousins”. A little boys hands going places they shouldn’t. As an adult, a former lover following me home from the bar when I told him not too. Hiking with my boyfriend and his friends, them ogling women right before my eyes. Those moments when I’ve been looked at and feel like I’m being devoured or that I’m someone’s prey, inappropriate sexual innuendo, and more. It’s not just women, this happens to men and them. Writing these sentences makes me ill. Writing these sentences makes me sad. Writing these sentences makes me angry. Writing these sentences calls me forth to take a stand. A stand for our humanity.
I’m now more sensitive to harassment, inappropriate stares, and comments. I’m more sensitive to stories of assault. The taking from, the manipulation, the shame, the rage, and the guilt. I see the complexity of this subject and I know there isn’t one answer.
The Measure of Beauty
To this day I still remember being told by a male family member I looked up to as a little girl “You aren’t as feminine as x.” Along with being teased about being Asian, that created a stigma of beauty. Growing up I didn’t understand how my and our standard of beauty was defined by magazines, movies, tv, and more. Recently, I was following a workout video and the instructor shared how she was inner thigh obsessed growing up. How she read the perfect leg looks like this and the inner thighs shouldn’t touch each other. I knew what she meant. I grew up with that. My thighs touch. Labels of feminine, sexy, sexual, slutty, promiscuous, and more get thrown about. There are expectations to look beautiful and sexy, but not slutty. To attract attention, but not too much attention. It’s confusing.
At times I feared that if I didn’t wear makeup, dress just right, wear high heels and more; I wasn’t beautiful. I wasn’t attractive. I wouldn’t belong. Women are taught these things to attract a partner. We are taught what beautiful is. At times I feared that if I did wear makeup or high heels; I wasn’t beautiful. I wasn’t attractive. I wouldn’t belong. I’d repulse men. It was a yo-yo based on what I needed to be for the men that surrounded me. What I heard for so long was if I wasn’t sexy, I’d lose his attention. If he became interested in another woman than it was my fault. Thankfully at some point I realized most of this is bull shit and found my own style and beauty. Yet, I still know women who struggle with this and being feminine or sexy.
It’s time for another story of beauty to be told. It’s time for each person to define what is beautiful, feminine, masculine, and sexy is for themselves. To be and dress how we want. To set and celebrate our own measure.
The Slippery Slope of Sexuality, Sensuality and the Erotic
The underlying current of sexual harassment and assault is desire. Desire weaves in with the erotic, the sensual and sexual. On its own, these things are sacred and beautiful. It is desire, the very root of creative energy that gives life to us and this world. These forces are intoxicating and wondrous. Yet in our own lust and desire, in our own wontedness and immaturity; these beautiful things get perverted and taken advantage of, used against. These energies are potent. They create love. Yet when these energies are handled in an immature and disowned way, they become scary and demanding. When manipulated through power, abusive. It’s taking, it’s degrading and removes the humanity and vitality from the subject. As a society, our relationship and respect for these energies are skewed. Men objectify women and women emasculate men. I hope this cycle comes to an end.
After the women’s march this past year and numerous other events, I heard a question of a protests effectiveness. The same has been questioned for people who post political commentary on Facebook as action, rather than calling a Senator to make their voice heard. Now what?
For me, now what, starts with why. Why this post? Why me too? This isn’t about being a victim. This isn’t about blame. This isn’t about right and wrong or shame. This is about sharing truth. This is about sharing an experience. This is about bringing something into the light. This is about offering a provocative thought and challenging the way we think or don’t think, feel or don’t feel.
It’s time to respect each other as human beings.