Why I Didn't Say "Me Too"

Earlier this week I noticed that a lot of women I follow on social media and that I am friends with on Facebook have been writing "Me too." as their status. I looked into it to see what it was all about and realized its about unification and standing up for women all over who have been harassed, abused, sexually assaulted, groped, molested, and even raped. This is a heavier topic so if you would rather read something on a lighter note go here. This post is sensitive material and very personal, so please be forewarned.

For those who aren't aware of the posts on social media, over the last few days women all over the world have responded to a call of action from Alyssa Milano in response to the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault allegations. In about 24 hours more than 12 million posts had been written with the phrase "me too" being the focal point. I saw it on twitter and then on Facebook and later I started seeing good friends and family members posting their stories or thoughts on the matter. I wanted to post, but I just didn't know what to say. My first thoughts were "what will people think?" and then, "what if they think I'm only posting for attention?" and then, "My experiences aren't anything compared to some of these women. Maybe I don't have a right to post." These thoughts deterred me from writing anything for a few days. Today however, I am sharing my thoughts on the matter, because I believe all women have a right to share their stories...the stories they should never have in the first place.

When I was a little girl, my parents got divorced and it was just life. I grew up always knowing that my mom lived here and my dad lived there and I would see him when I see him. I knew that my dad loved me and my brother, there was never a question about that. When I was in elementary school, my dad remarried. His new wife was beautiful. Although she was really nice to me and would want to go on family vacations or shopping with me, I always felt sort of stupid when I was with her. I needed braces and glasses and I was chubby. Boys didn't give me the time of day. She was thin and blonde and had certain qualities that made men stop and whistle. She always rolled her eyes and continued on her way, so to me it was normal that they behaved that way. If you're beautiful, all kinds of people pay attention.

When I was a 12 year old girl, I started developing. Now I was chubby with boobs. My mom had already had "the talk" with me so I was well on my way to becoming a teenager. The idea of sex was weird and I didn't give it a second thought. At that age I was like "Ew, no thanks." 

But then I was 100% like "OMG never in my life that is so gross and I want to die just thinking about it," because I had seen porn for the first time. In my dad's house. With my step mom as the model. Yup. 

Later I had found out that my younger brother knew about it too and had even told some kids at school. I guess he thought it would make him look cool? It didn't. Kids are vicious. Most of my junior high and high school experience involved me keeping to myself and my few friends because I couldn't take the jokes and mean comments about it all. Youth group however, was good. It was my one safe place growing up because no one knew about my dad and step-mom, that I know of anyway.

Not sure why my mother ever let me leave the house looking like that...maybe she liked my shirt.
(I'm about 13 in this photo)
I was desperate for a guy to like me and really wanted my first kiss. I felt so much pressure and boys called me prude because I was almost 15 and never had been kissed before. I stupidly gave that up to some guy who wore t-shirts that said "save water, shower together." (insert eye roll) It was not good and he called me like 800 times in the next week after that. Not what I was looking for... when I told him that he made sure to tell me how subpar my kissing skills were and I felt so pathetic.

15 year old Natalie. I finally had caught the eye of someone I had a crush on in youth group for like, 2 years. I instantly fell in love with him and was on cloud nine. Then he tried to kiss me and I wasn't ready... I mean I had been waiting two years for this and it needed to be perfect, considering my last kiss wasn't. I felt bad that he tried and I stopped it, so later he convinced me that if we just talked about our feelings it would be okay. Our sexual feelings. I sexted for the first time, even though I had no idea what I was saying. I was embarrassed and felt so incredibly lonely. Like, I'm alone in my room and when I put the phone down, newsflash I am still alone in my room. I did it though because I knew it would make him feel better and hopefully still love me. His feelings for me changed about a month later. I was heartbroken and it took me (unfortunately) about 3 years to get over him. 

Then in my senior year of high school I guess the word spread again, and people were talking about how my dad and step mom were involved in the porn industry. I was embarrassed and again tried to lay low but my braces were off and I wore makeup now. Boys (cute, athletic, popular boys) were starting to look at me in class. Then one day in particular a boy that was super cute and had the hair flip down perfectly came up to my locker and said hi. My heart was pounding out of my chest and I just couldn't believe he was talking to me. He complimented my outfit and asked about a homework assignment and walked me to gym class. Then he asked me the next question that forever changed the way I thought about men. So, did your step mom teach you any moves or anything? I would love to help you practice.

I was mortified and I couldn't think of anything to say except to call him a string of unkind and unchristian words. He walked away laughing and I felt like I could melt through the floor just from the heat in my face. Later that year he raped one of my best friends.

That same year I went on a missions trip to Africa. During the trip, we held a Vacation Bible School for some of the younger kids in a village. It was a lot of fun and I was in charge of story telling to some of the cutest 5 and 6 year olds I'd ever met. It was starting to get dark so I began to wrap things up and walk towards the van. A little boy asked me if I wanted to kick a soccer ball around until it was time to leave, so I began to play. More kids joined and before I knew it, it was dark and we were running around trying to find the ball that ended up being about 50 yards outside of the van's headlight reach. When I turned around to go back, most of the young children were gone and a group of teenage guys were approaching. Something was said in another language and the 3 little boys who were with me began to cry and yell. The bigger kid pushed one and then came up to me and asked if he could play. I said "No, I'm leaving with my group now. Maybe next time." He grabbed my arm and took the ball. I kept walking and all of a sudden there were like 8 guys around me trying to grab me. One grabbed my boob, another my butt, and then finally the guy who took the ball put his hand on the front of my pants. I yelled and started to run as they followed closely behind, laughing. I got to the van and the little boy came up to me and hugged my leg and said goodbye. His eyes were so innocent; I thought about those eyes the whole drive back to our house and prayed he wouldn't end up like those boys. That's probably the first time I talked about that experience in like, 4 years.

Flash forward a few months to college graduation. The happiest I'd been in a while because I no longer had to spend my time in a place where girls flirted with male teachers for extra credit and that valued male athleticism above most things. I never had to see the boys who made me feel ugly and worthless and asked me things that brought my face to a full fledged purple.

College was better. I made friends and was involved in activities and clubs. I enjoyed my classes and even because a teacher's assistant. Mark and I spent a little time apart Junior year where I had a fling with another guy. I ended up breaking his heart, which I feel terrible about to this day. Mark and I grew up a little and we got back together, got engaged, and got married. A beautiful whirlwind.

I thought that the problems with men were over. I have a loving, good husband now, after all. But that doesn't change the fact that I have curves, big blue eyes, and live in a city where a lot of gross men tend to congregate. I thought I was "off the market" but apparently not. Cat calls, uncomfortable looks, flashing, and being followed too closely as I walk from my car to my apartment are things I didn't realize I would have to deal with. I didn't realize that my social anxiety would grow, causing me to have to beg Mark to go grocery shopping with me so I wouldn't draw anyones attention. My love for certain styles of clothing has changed because I don't want to deal with avoiding eye contact with a man while I wait in line for coffee. I hate that I have to double check before I get out of my car and walk home (twice men have followed a little too closely while asking how I'm doing in a tone I'd rather not hear). I'm wearing sweats, no makeup, and have my hair in a messy bun so that you won't give me a second look. Then I see my reflection and think "Ew..." I am changing myself to avoid verbal/physical harassment and then I hate what I've become because its not me. That's not fair.

I don't think that I should have to worry about a strange man asking me out or telling me I look good today when going grocery shopping or even taking out the trash. That's not fair. But I also don't think that all these things I've shared about are enough to write "me too." And that's a problem. Any type of comment, look, or touch that makes me uncomfortable is a problem. I didn't ask you to look at my rear end and then tell me what you think. I didn't ask you to talk dirty to me. I didn't ask to see what was underneath your pants while I wait for the train. I gave you your receipt and said "have a nice day" not "hey whats your number, I totally want to see you later." By saying "boys will be boys" we excuse the problem instead of stopping it from being normal. In addition, by saying "my me too moment isn't as important as the others" I am contributing to the problem. I'm allowing my story to be normal.

A girl barely finished with puberty shouldn't be exposed to pornography and asked if she knows any tricks. A young woman shouldn't be groped and harassed in the dark when she's trying to do something good for children. A woman shouldn't feel like the absolute worst and hate herself because a relationship didn't work out. A woman shouldn't be afraid to get out of her car at night, go grocery shopping after 10 am, or wear something that makes her feel beautiful. We shouldn't make excuses for boys. (I don't say men because, hello...they aren't men.) 'Think before you speak' applies to the dirty thoughts boys think too. I am someone's daughter, sister, granddaughter, wife. Just because some women don't care about being talked to or touched that way doesn't mean all women don't care. I have 4 younger brothers and if I ever found out they talked to women the way I've been talked to or feel like they have a right to grab what isn't theirs, there is no way in hell I would say "boys will be boys." It breaks my heart that my little sister is growing up in a world like this.

There is no way that I will accept "He's changed. He didn't really mean it. That was so long ago. She totally instigated it," without proof. There is also no way I respect a man who wants to call himself a leader who treats women like garbage and just says what he thinks, including speaking of their p**sy and how unattractive they are on television. Yeah, I went there. And that's as political as I'll let my blog get. 

This is not a cry for attention. I am okay. But maybe there is someone out there who can relate and who isn't okay and they need to know that someone feels the same way and has experienced the same things as them and happened to stumble upon my blog today. If that is you, please know that you can email me to talk. Please know that your past experiences don't determine your worth. You are resilient. Strong. Beautiful. Worthy.

So whether or not you feel like you have any feelings and experiences to contribute to the whole thing, you matter and your story matters. You are worth so much more than this world has led you to believe. Your first kiss, your first love, the way you're spoken to...it should all be memorable, but in a good way. I'm sorry if it wasn't. I'm also sorry that I've contributed to the problem, the acceptance of this behavior by believing "that's just how guys are." It shouldn't be.

*also, for those curious or those about to leave a related comment...my dad and step mom got a divorce about 5 years ago and he is now remarried and has moved on from the porn industry. Snooping, inappropriate questions, or distasteful comments will be deleted. Thank you!

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