How The #MeToo Movement Helped Me Understand My Experiences
The #MeToo movement has had a lot of unforeseen consequences—good ones, I mean. A lot of people who really deserve it are having their day in court. Any men with even slightly disrespectful intentions are on their toes. Good. They should be. I hope every man who ever crossed the line is just lying awake at night, shaking, wondering when he’ll be called out. And why shouldn’t he? For centuries women have spent most of their lives shaking in terror that somebody would assault them. Now it’s time for the assaulters to be terrified. There is something else interesting and positive that came from this movement: it put language around experiences from my past that I didn’t quite understand. Sadly, nobody really talked to me much about sexual assault or inappropriate behavior from men when I was younger. I knew that rape was bad and, that’s about it. But we all know now that there is a lot of grey area that leads up to that, that is still completely unacceptable. Here are experiences I understand better since the #MeToo movement.
Subtle comments from coworkers
I used to think that having male coworkers just make little sexual jokes at my expense or subtly hit on me was par for the course of having male coworkers. Sadly, I, and all of my friends, talked about this as if it was just the cost of doing business—a nuisance that there was nothing to do about.
Provocative stories from coworkers
I recall male coworkers who would tell me very provocative and detailed stories about their sexual escapades. I remember feeling sick—feeling like in some way, they were crossing a line. But I’d justify it by saying, “Well, they aren’t asking me to do sexual stuff with them. They’re just telling me a story.” But we all know that in some way, they got off on telling me that story. I was assaulted.
Friends who tried to be more. Repeatedly.
Through college and my early twenties, I had a few male friends—sorry, “friends”—who would, when they got very drunk, try to hook up with me. Then I’d have a talk with them about juts wanting to be friends. They’d apologize, say they also just wanted to be friends, and then try to sleep with me again. So their friendship was a lie. It was part of a plan to try to sleep with me. I used to just think, “Ah, that’s what guys do.” But you know what? It’s not okay.
PDA I didn’t want
There was one guy who I’d only been out with a few times, and even though we’d been intimate in private, he wanted to be very physical with me in public, trying to make out and grab my butt in public. I wasn’t okay with this. That’s not who I am. And he made me feel bad for that. And I sort of believed him. I thought, “Maybe he’s right—maybe’s it’s wrong for me to be intimate with him in private but not in public.” But actually, my feelings were my feelings and they should have been respected.
Making out that went too far
I truly grew up with the understanding that men will always try to push women’s boundaries, and its up to us to play goalie. So I just accepted that making out with a boy would mean constantly moving his hands off my boobs or out of my pants. But, in retrospect, WTF?! If I took their hands of an area once, that should’ve been the last time those hands went there.
Other stuff that went too far
One night in particular stood out to me once the #MeToo movement started. Years ago, I went on a few dates with a guy. One such date wound up at a small party at his apartment. I’d had a lot to drink, so I asked if I could sleep over, but stated I didn’t want to be sexual yet. He agreed, and then throughout the night, he kept trying to have sex with me. I had to push him off repeatedly. And then, sadly, I went out with him one more time after that. See how deep the idea ran that boys will be boys.
Men who didn’t let me take the lead
In my opinion, if a woman tells a man once that she isn’t yet ready to make things sexual, that should be the last time he pushes the issue. But there are so many men I dated who would just try again on the next date. They should have just waited for me to tell them when I was ready.
Partners who made me feel guilty
Even a guy with whom I was in a serious relationship would make me feel guilty when I wasn’t in the mood for sex. “You’re my girlfriend. You should want to have sex with me” he’d say. And, unfortunately, I saw nothing wrong with it at the time.
Comments on my outfit from bosses
I even saw nothing wrong with male bosses saying little things about my outfits or my body when I was younger. I really just figured dealing with creepy comments was a part of working with men. Sadly, research has found black women are most likely to be sexually harassed in the workplace.
Comments on my sex life
I had one boss who would make comments about my sex life—like about how lucky my boyfriend was to get to be with me, and things like that. Looking back, that is so not okay.
Bosses who propositioned me
One boss straight up asked me if I’d be interested in a threesome with him and his girlfriend, but he added “If not, totally cool. No pressure.” Oh gee wow thank you! How kind of him to let me know it was okay if I wasn’t down. You know what was actually not cool? The fact that he ever brought this up.
Bosses watching adult content
This didn’t happen to me, but it did happen to a friend: her male boss would watch adult films on his computer, with the volume turned up loud, and his office door left wide open. She sat right outside of his office. She could tell that he somehow got pleasure from subjecting her to this, and she didn’t know what to do about it.
Pushing drinks on me
In college, I thought it was totally normal for guys to just try to get me drunk. And I even, tragically, felt that if things went too far because I got drunk, that was on me. So I just felt it was my job to resist the drinks being pushed on me. I didn’t realize they never should have been pushing drinks on me to begin with.
Switching the intercourse script
This left me feeling sick for weeks: one guy I slept with asked if we could do anal, and I didn’t want to. So he said fine, and then just kept trying to put it there. I still didn’t quite understand that even if we are having intercourse, I still have a voice and rights. He finally gave up, and we had vaginal sex but, I never should have had sex with him at all. I just didn’t realize how unacceptable his behavior was.
Oral I didn’t want
One man I went out with really wanted to go down on me. I didn’t want him to. We’d only been out once. We were making out and he just kept trying to, insisting I’d like it. “I’m trying to do something nice for you” he said. And, again, I fell for his BS. But you know what? It isn’t nice if I said no.