I posted those words on Facebook recently, along with what seems like every woman I know. A post went viral asking each woman to write the words “Me too” if she’d been sexually assaulted or harassed.
A man exposed himself to me once. Ten years ago. He was in a car, and I was on foot. He called me over and asked me directions to the freeway. I disappointed him by actually giving him directions and not noticing that he was exposing himself until he pointed it out. Then, I walked away.
I called the cops, and they warned me that it was a small step from flashing a woman to actually assaulting her. I was lucky nothing happened to me.
A friend of mine had an even scarier experience. A man grabbed her on the street and then flashed her. When she yelled for help, bystanders mistook her cries for a woman having a spat with a boyfriend, and they ignored her.
Under the #MeToo tag, the stories kept rolling in.
Before long a question arose: Has any woman not been sexually assaulted or harassed?
I know several people who’ve been raped. In fact, I’m not sure I know any woman who’s never faced sexual assault or harassment. Most women can probably say the same, and that’s a travesty.
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I doubt there’s a woman alive who’s never been catcalled, but sexual harassment goes far beyond an unwelcome comment or greeting.
For example, right now I know a woman who’s facing sexual harassment from a superior at work that could potentially ruin her career, and another one who already lost a job due to harassment. Sometimes men who catcall women follow them, and make them fear for their safety.
Sexual violence isn’t something that happens rarely. Most of it isn’t the heinous acts that appear on the news — it’s the everyday acts that don’t.
If you want to see the faces of rapists, look around you. Just look around. Men who do this look like anyone. One of the men who assaulted me is now a pediatric neurologist at a prestigious hospital.
Odds are you can’t find a woman — or trans person — who won’t say “me too.”
How many men that you know perpetrated these crimes?
We can’t stop sexual violence until we understand how very mundane it is. Men act shocked and horrified to hear of women’s sexual assaults, but remain ignorant that the perpetrators are other men around them — their coworkers, their buddies, their family, and maybe even themselves.