If you haven’t seen, last week Alyssa Milano tweeted “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” And respond people did. I didn’t feel called to answer, but after this week I just need to get it off my chest.
At lunch yesterday I started out for a run. The day had been a whirlwind…one kid to school (with the other 3 in tow), another kid to school, 2.5 hours at my son’s doctors appointment, drop that kid off at school, then approximately 27 minutes to get a run in before starting school pickups. Exactly .2 miles into my run, I was appalled to hear 4 dudes (that’s a polite term) screaming at me from their car…making noises..and best of all…taking pictures of me?!? For what…the sweaty jogger photo album? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE!!!!!!! I was shocked and embarrassed. I gave them the meanest look I could muster and then shook my fist at them….because I’m 85 years old and I think it’s really vulgar to give people the finger. Sadly this wasn’t even the first time this had happened this week. I was out for a 6am run a few days back (because school drop-offs are early y’all) and in the pitch black another group of dudes felt the need to start whistling and yelling out their car window. Which was freaking terrifying…remember guys…it’s not yet sunrise. Back to the most recent run…I anger sprinted the rest of the three miles and my thoughts went back to other times harassment aka THE NORM crept into my life.
….like the time I was 19 and went to a party at another campus. I had just arrived with my boyfriend (now husband) when after a few minutes the birthday dude at the house cornered me and asked “do you know why you are here?!” as he tried to grab me and push me up the stairs with him…to “celebrate” his birthday. I looked around frantic, realized I knew no one around me, and sprinted out the door. What I should have done was punch him right in the face but hindsight is 20/20.
…or the time I was out at a bar to celebrate a bachelorette party. I was too early to show pregnant when some dude grabbed me. Given the fact that I was stone cold sober and in mama bear protecting her baby mode I wheeled around and yelled “DO NOT GRAB ME!” The guy was shocked he had been called out…as was the girl he was standing there with. “But really why were you at a bar while pregnant?” Answers: to celebrate my friend and because I don’t live in a cave while pregnant. Better question: why should I have to worry about someone grabbing me at a bar, pregnant or not?
I am lucky enough that I’ve only had to deal with the mild harassments…nothing major that other women have had to go through. But then..what is the “Me Too” movement about? It’s a call to action. I’ve always told Matthew, if anything happened to me when I was running, you better believe I will absolutely go down with a fight. Not so before kids, when I was running as a young, single girl. But motherhood has made me courageous and because of that I’m aggressive. If a man is running towards me, you better believe I’m going to look him right in the eye and say hello. In the meantime, I’ve sized him up…you know…in case I need to do a police report about him. I wish I could say I’m joking but the best defense is a good offense and I must be prepared.
I know these incidents are small. But I’m doubting Bill Cosby or Harvey Weinstein or many other predators woke up one day and said “I’m going to hurt women.” It started with a catcall while on a second job. Or with a comment while drinking at a party. Then escalated to inappropriate comments as a young, powerful boss (yup, heard those too). And all that time no one said “enough is enough.” Well it’s time we said not just “that’s not appropriate” but instead said “THAT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.” Yes, I am reminded of how I need to raise my boys to be kind, honest, and respectful. But we also need to continue to educate girls and women that these harassments are not acceptable. I find it laughable to imagine myself doing any of the things I described above to a man. So to all my nieces and friends and girls I’ve coached and anyone else reading this, if you experience harassment, find your voice. Be strong. Look him straight in the eye and let them know that is not how you treat a woman. Because you are worth it and no one should make you feel otherwise.
Here’s a good follow up article just posted today… http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/alyssa-milano-metoo-campaign-vocal-stops/story?id=50582023
And another good one from last year about #RunningWhileFemale… https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/what-its-really-like-to-go-running-while-female_us_57bdefc2e4b04193420cebfe
It just needs to stop. http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/young-women-joggers-harassed-study-article-1.2846002