Me too

Yesterday, I posted my own Me too status. I didn’t do so lightly because for the last 30 years the sexual assault I know occurred has been diminished over and again by the naysaying voices residing inside, as well as outside, my head. “Did you say NO?” they question. “But you didn’t say NO, right,” they assert.

I didn’t say No.

But yesterday, there were so many Me toos, I was compelled to add mine. The unuttered NO that stuck in my throat didn’t excuse the abuse of power, did it. That unuttered No did explain the crushing acceptance of blame and inevitability. I’m not all that brave, but I hate being vulnerable, and I had to get pretty damned vulnerable to post that status.

Today there’s been a wee bit of backlash—folks comparing Me too to the ubiquitous Facebook, Thoughts and Prayers.

When I first read a comment from a writer I admire, a writer who pooh poohed all the Me toos, I experienced the familiar old wash of shame, that warm liquidy feeling that starts in the gut and rushes up to the red face, accompanied by those same naysaying voices, Who do you think you are? What are you trying to prove?

I wanted to take it down—my Me too. I wanted to erase it. But I recognized those damned voices. I recognized the shame. And you know what—I remembered something Brené Brown teaches in her book and online course, Daring Greatly.

Shame cannot survive empathy.

Me too is empathy. Me too is witness. Me too is sharing our stories.

So Me too

for the woman pushed up on the hood of her own car, while the cop she called for help pulls her favorite shirt apart, popping all the buttons off.

and Me too

for the woman who stood bruised and helpless in front of the States Attorney who commanded, “Show me your bruises,” and “I know the man you are accusing of rape and I don’t believe he could do this.”

and Me too

for the 12 year old pushed into a corner of an empty gym by the cute dark-headed 8th grader with the deep brown eyes, the one who leaned in and assaulted her with his eyes while saying, “Have you ever been kissed?”

and Me too

for the multitudes of girls and women who were preyed upon in their own homes by their dads or grandfathers or uncles or or husbands or brothers or brothers’ friends or sister’s boyfriends or brothers-in-law or child-care providers or friends of a friend of a friend.

and Me too

for the 20 year-old student who believes she has made too many mistakes to stop her best friend from pushing her head into his lap while he unzips his pants.

and Me too

for any girl or woman who has crossed the street or turned around or sped up her heart smashing around the cage of her chest because the man in front of her or behind her might not be safe.

and Me too

for the woman who couldn’t say No because she needed the job, recommendation, money, drugs, shelter, pap smear, protection, food.

and Me too

for every woman who did say No and it didn’t make a damn bit of difference.
for every woman whose rape kit is stuck in a warehouse somewhere untested.
for every woman who can’t write Me too yet and for all those who just did.
for every woman who tells her story and for every woman who can’t.

Me too

if you have been fighting this battle for years.

and Me too

if you started fighting this battle only yesterday.

and Me too

for our daughters and nieces and granddaughters and sisters and mothers and aunts and friends who have by some stroke of luck avoided sexual assault and for our daughters and nieces and granddaughters and sisters and mothers and aunts and friends who have avoided nothing because together we can bear witness to and share our stories

Me too
Me too
Me too

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