I’ve seen these words so many times in the past 24 hours. In the midst of all of the news pouring out about Harvey Weinstein (and Carrie Fisher’s response to him, wonderful!), women are sharing. Some may not share their individual stories, but they share the reality that they all have stories. For some it’s violence, for some it’s harassment.
The story I often think of is a story that would have left me feeling uncomfortable, were it not for the intervention of a strong woman. I worked as a baker on campus during the latter part of my freshman year/first half of my sophomore year of university. While cleaning up my area, one of the full time cooks – not a student, an older man – came up behind me and “hugged” me by pressing against me. I remember jumping sky high, and turning my face to see who the hell had grabbed me, and his face being two inches from mine. I don’t remember what I said, just remember the “ewwwwww” feeling. And 10 minutes later, the “big boss,” Pam, pulled me into her office to ask questions.
I wasn’t the only female student he had done that to, of course. Most of them were creeped out and quit working there. Pam wanted him fired, but his union was willing to fight for him. She issued it as a partnership – let’s handle this together.
So we did. I answered questions. The union felt he should have security in his job, and fought for him to stay. Pam advocated for me, but also made sure to facilitate my (extremely quiet) voice being heard. And it was heard.
He didn’t keep his job.
But this story, in which I was “safe,” is one that is hard to share. The first time I said it to someone, I was asked what I was wearing. You know, because my clothes determine my treatment. (Especially the awesome apron that went over my kitchen clothes.) Or the amount of makeup I wear. Or the number of people I dated. Or, or, or.
The truth is, the fact that I am a woman is reason enough. I don’t need to do anything but exist to be considered an object, or prey.
But it is only through telling our stories, teaching our children how to speak up for themselves and those around them, that we can even begin to turn this tide.
My heart breaks, even while I have hope. We are more than how we have been treated. Together we can create change.