Me too…I am seeing it on Facebook posts, in comments and in conversation far and wide.
I am not sure where it came from, but it’s picking up steam. Why? Because it’s the skeleton in every woman’s closet, the elephant in every room. We’ve carried it cautiously, buried it fastidiously, and borne it boldly until someone tugged it out. Now we’re shocked at the commonness of our experience.
Me too. ME TOO. Me too, we type. We read and think, oh my, you too? And in confessing, we join hands. Fervently, supportively, collegially, then boldly and angrily, but to what effect? We’re angry with no place to put our anger.
Here’s the thing. Everyone who acknowledges and shares a “me too” takes themselves back to that moment in time and place and sensation. We re-live that abuse, that violation, that pain. That’s the way the mind works: our past, when recalled, becomes our present, even if it was a long, long time ago.
This is the invisible danger of the injury perpetrated by sexual harassment and abuse. Borne quietly, culturally dismissed, left unaddressed or without proper resolution, this wounding leaves scars. We are the nesting dolls of ourselves. Everything we have ever lived is re-shaped and covered over by layer upon layer of our next set of selves. Our minds hold the experience of our bodies, even when no scars are apparent. A “me too” campaign activates those all over again.
The pain out there is a real and present danger to full mind and body health. Seeing the magnitude of this effect leaves me both bereft and emboldened. It has me asking, How did what happened to me effect me? How has this behavior been perpetuated?
First, I thank God for the safe haven He provides me to return in my mind to the scene of this crime. A minor incident, I would call it, though my recollection after nearly thirty years would disavow that.
I didn’t say anything. What would I say? No harm done, no physical evidence, no witnesses. Confrontation would have risked elevation, exposure or worse, but I had no conscious thought of these things at the time. There was disgust, acknowledgement of my powerlessness and, yes, even consideration that somehow what I wore that day — skirt and top befitting a college professor in modern fashion — might have made me a target. Should I have been more observant? Was I too trusting of strangers? too naive? (How do we manage to re-work things to find ourselves at fault?)
Just imagine, all that percolation from a moment three decades old, which the “me too” project has bubbling to the surface. I don’t appreciate that, but here we are and I am very not alone. My question for me is, What do I do with my Me Too? Because victim is a role I have never played very well.
Here is my manifesto:
- As a woman, I have heard men say that their private misbehavior is no one else’s business. It is. It leaves lasting scars on the people they have wronged, both the victim of their sexual affront and the family which suffers under the weight of it. My to do: I will speak the truth to any individual who hides behind this lie.
- As a voter, I have heard our President confess that he has participated in sexual assault and then dismiss it as “locker room talk.” My to do: I will continue to cast my vote only for individuals who demonstrate good character and responsible behavior and NEVER for a professed and unrepentant assaulter.
- As a colleague and friend, I now realize that there are many women living with these secret wounds. My to do: I will offer a listening heart to those who want and need to share their story, hoping that some healing will come of this.
- As the mother of three daughters, I now realize how pervasive is the brokenness and sexual sin-sickness in the world they are entering as young adult women. My to do: I will boldly work for a safe and healthy world for them, demonstrating by my words and actions that gender fear has no place here.
- As a writer, I cannot leave these things unwritten or unsaid.
The “Me too” barrage has me marveling at the design of the human mind, equipped as it is, with memory prone to be prodded by emotionally charged things–good, bad or indifferent. We must tread here with caution because these bits do linger and have the power to change us. There in the shadows they may influence us, even without our permission or intention.
While God has the power to forget and forgive, we fragile humans tend to recall things. We can call on God to help us heal those memories, allowing Him to fill in and smooth out the rough places to make a way toward a firmer future.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~ Jeremiah 29:11
God has got plans for you and me, too.