#MeToo, by Nancy Dunlop

I wish I hadn’t publicly shared that I was a #MeToo.

I thought it would feel cathartic.

It didn’t.

I thought it would help me feel a stronger bond with women who also said #MeToo.  Help to bring us out of our personal isolations.

It didn’t.

I feared that if my male friends saw that I was a #MeToo, they would get uneasy, and I would need to protect them from hearing bad things.   So, did this allow me to feel like I could be honest with men I knew?  Gain their support?  A shoulder to lean on?

It didn’t.

I had the tiniest pipe dream that men would see #MeToo, and it would make them speak up, show some outrage, some sort of appropriate reaction.

It didn’t.

I feared that if I came out as #MeToo, I would be met with, not just outright denial, but with aggression and anger, like I was jumping onto the trendy #MeToo bandwagon.  Just, you know, for attention.  I mean, really, it can’t be THAT many women, can it?   And you’ve never talked about any kind of assault before. Why did you wait until now?  And really, what IS “assault”?  And boys will be boys, good clean fun, so just shut up, already.  Did this fear of backlash get alleviated by #MeToo?

It didn’t.

Did my whisper of #MeToo serve to show that “I’d rape ya” is not a compliment?  That fear of sexual assault makes day-to-day harassment (on the street, in the office, in the elevator, in the club, in the dorm room, in the home, on the bus, in the parking lot, on the cell phone) possible because it shuts us up?  Because we don’t want escalation?  This obscene comment; those icky leers; being told to smile; being touched, grabbed, squeezed, groped, stroked; having men expose themselves in the park, on our phones; being followed for blocks, stalked, downright chased in broad daylight, all the while putting on our game faces, pretending that nothing is happening, nothing is wrong because we don’t want to make things worse for ourselves?  Because we’ve been groomed since childhood to expect being approached but also to be wary of trouble, and well . . . we’re just asking for it, anyway, right?  Now:  Has my description of what women face everyday make people suddenly SEE that we face a daily gauntlet, a battle zone, just in, say, a short walk to work? My guess is:

It didn’t.

So, never mind.  Don’t give it a thought.  Did a man with a knife sexually assault me under the streetlight that night, trying to force me into his car?  Did I experience prolonged hand-to-hand combat, my screams surely heard but ignored?  All those apartment windows with screens in for springtime, resting there above us, not one light turned on, as we tussled our way down the street?  Was I drenched in blood, after grabbing the knife blade, right before he pressed it through my shirt, so much blood it puddled in my shoes?  Did the investigating officer in the ER say that I couldn’t blame the attacker for wanting to “fuck me” because, after all, “we all want that?”  Did this event make me fear random men and what they might do or say, at any time?  Make me fear cops?  Does this flashback visit me, still?  Does it level me?  Do women have far worse stories than this?  No.  Never mind.  I retract my statement.  No more “Me Too” nonsense.  It didn’t happen.

It didn’t.

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