Why I was silent when others said “me too”.
Partly, I was silent because I was taking it all in. Hearing those voices all around me. Most I knew, some I did not. Seeing some bold and public male statements. Feeling the prodding questions of keyboard warriors. Absorbing it, without escape.
Partly I was silent because there are so many levels of “me too” that I didn’t know which one to describe if someone should ask. The one that will make them the most comfortable hearing? The one that will make them forever uncomfortable about me? Would I give different stories to different nosy surfers?
Partly I was silent because a great deal of masterful and painstaking self-examination had to happen to find that warm silence. I have thought about these things in circles, for decades. Reframed and re-emerged many times. I liked the place I had arrived at.
Partly, I was silent because just one day before I’d had a dream. It was a dream about a boy I knew in high school, who assaulted me the same week that he assaulted a dear friend. We were 15. It’s a weird bond we share after many years, but rarely mention. In my dream he walked right up and kissed me and I didn’t know what to do, so I just let him kiss me. I kissed him back. Then I froze. I pushed him away from me and he began to mock me.
I woke up.
I was angry at myself for failing, as one usually does in a recurring nightmare.
Partly I was silent because I am, to this day, friends with at least 20 people connected to another person from my past, who was best friends of someone I dated, a and at one time the boyfriend to a close friend of mine, with whom I had a violent sexual encounter that left me bloody. I admit I have never fully come to terms with the responsibility I had in my own foolishness and I know that makes feminists cringe. It makes me cringe. I stayed silent because until a few short years ago I was “Facebook friends” with him, until he bragged to a friend that he “had hooked up with me” back in the day. A memory so finely corked that I unravelled, when it did.
Partly I was silent because despite the fact that I should be made of fucking steel by now just a few years ago a coworker rubbed his penis right against my bum while I worked while grabbing me firmly. by the hips. Despite my warrior vibes and don’t-fuck-with-me demeanour, there it was. I feel like I’m unravelling with every hashtag. I feel that failing to speak is abandoning the movement, but speaking means that someone is going to ask. Do I say no comment, do I….
Partly I remained silent because with great pressure from my counsellor I once tried to share these stories with the man in my life. He stopped me, and asked me never to speak of it again. He could not handle it. I was on Chapter 1. Disclosure can be a real vibe killer. I’ve seen it happen.
Partly I remained silent because against my will, I was forced to suddenly line these experiences up. Like inventory. I had been assaulted 4 times before my 17th birthday. I knew all of those men. This before I’d ever entered the workplace. This before I’d ever put on a sexy dress or left the house in heels.
Partly I was silent because despite some crazy stuff that happened when I was young, I’m a 45 year old sex-positive woman who is unafraid of intimacy and sexual expression. I climbed mountains for that. I had to put down these stories to get up those mountains. They tipped me in the direction I was meant for and I’ve found peace with that- but I know many cannot. Some of people in my online world only know that girl. She is the sum of her parts, but those parts aren’t all clearly visible, by design. I’m a fucking boundary guru in my current life. I’m not sure I want to integrate those two things ever again.
Partly I was silent because internet crazes happen, and then two weeks later nobody is talking about ___________ anymore. Except now it’s out there.
Partly I was silent because I’ve spoken about some of my experiences with women, who then learned to share their experiences, and I will continue to scoot quietly behind the scenes discussing the imprint that sexual violence can leave with women who want to talk about it.
Partly I was silent because my mother can’t handle the truth.
Partly I was silent because the braggadocious, self-worshipping President of the United States is on trial for child rape and nobody is batting an eye.
Partly I was silent because I couldn’t speak.
To my involuntary sisterhood, I hear you. I applaud you. Thank you. To those people who are disappointed by those of us who didn’t raise our hashtags and join you, I understand. You do it your way. We will keep doing it ours. As long as we all move forward.