Why I debated posting 'Me Too' on social media

In the last few days, you have probably seen several friends posting "Me too" across social media.

It started with actress Alyssa Milano's tweet on Sunday night — "If you've been sexually harassed or assaulted write 'me too' as a reply to this tweet." She did this in response to the allegations by several women, such as Ashley Judd, Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, that film producer Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed and abused them. According to the New York Times, several of these women, who are now coming forward, felt they had to "suppress the experience."

Within just 24 hours, the hashtag #MeToo was tweeted nearly half a million times, showing how many others have suppressed similar actions done to them.

I saw about 60 of my Facebook friends post these two words since then. And those are just the ones who decided to share this online. I know there are hundreds, thousands, millions more women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted who chose not to share it because, as author and poet Najwa Zebian‏ tweeted this morning, "The victim has everything to lose by speaking up. The abuser has everything to gain by the story remaining secret."

Reporter Kate Maltby wrote in an article for CNN, "Victims of sexual harassment have always shared our experiences underground. If you're a straight, powerful man, that's probably why you haven't heard them: This is a privilege exclusive to the networks of the powerless."

I debated posting my own "Me too" on Facebook this week. I have friends who have been raped and abused. I didn't want anyone to think I was trying to categorize what I've been through as anything close to what they have experienced. And I didn't want people to think I was looking for sympathy, because that's the last thing I wanted. Unfortunately, my story isn't unique, and almost every woman I know has gone through something similar or worse.

I also didn't feel validated in saying, "Me too." I felt ashamed for never standing up for myself when I should have. I mentally went through every experience I've had and wondered, "Is it sexual harassment if I never spoke up?"

I've had men over to my house - either just friends or dates - who wouldn't take "No" for an answer. Who would grab me or whine when they didn't get their way. I should have screamed, "Get out of my apartment right now!" But I didn't.

I once interviewed a man for an Oakland Press article who, as his way of "thanking" me, sent me a Facebook message with a picture of a certain body part. I should have blocked him. I should have reported him. But I didn't.

There's another guy who was my friend. One day he started sending me Snapchats of himself - usually right after he got out of the shower or while he was lying in bed, if you get my drift. And even though he had a serious girlfriend, who is now his fiancee, he would send me these pictures nearly everyday. I told him, "Stop it! You have a girlfriend! This isn't fair to her!" When that didn't faze him, I began to ignore the Snapchats, pretending, when the photo faded within 10 seconds, that it didn't happen. But when I wouldn't respond he would bombard me with text messages: "Are you mad at me? Are we still friends?" I should have blocked him. But I didn't. Instead, I was the one saying, "Sorry for not responding."

I later found out that he wasn't just doing this to me. He was sending these pictures and sexual messages to multiple women — women he just met, women who were married, co-workers.

So, why didn't I stand up for myself in these situations or in situations worse than this?

Because I wanted to be "nice." I didn't want to cause conflict. I didn't want to make someone feel bad. I gave them the benefit of the doubt, telling myself, "Oh he's a nice guy. He didn't mean anything by it," or "This is his way of trying to compliment me." I didn't stick up for myself because I didn't see my self worth. I didn't see that I didn't deserve this. And my incessant need to not make waves and to not upset anyone was more important than taking a stand.

One actress, Asia Argento, claims that Weinstein performed oral sex on her against her will. Some people have discredited her because she admitted to staying friends with him and having consensual sex with him afterward.

Vox reporter Natalia Antonova wrote, "A familiar sick feeling washed over me. I could understand how Argento could allow the same man who she says forced himself on her to continue to be part of her life. I also knew — just as she did — exactly how this sequence of events would affect her credibility, in the public’s eye, if she came forward about the assault."

It's socially ingrained in women, from a young age, to be "polite" and not "rude." We may live in fear of what a man will do or say to us if we stand our ground.

I wish I could say that I was immune to this. I wish I could say that I was this powerhouse woman who knew her worth and would stick up for herself whenever she's treated any less. But I'm not. At least I haven't been. But I also know that this doesn't mean that it's my fault or that men have the right to treat me and other women that way.

If someone says, "No," then stop asking. And unsolicited dick picks? Yeah, why is that even a thing? To me, these things are common sense. If I asked a guy on a date and he said, "No" or told me he didn't feel that way about it, I wouldn't try to guilt him into it. If I leaned in to kiss a guy and he turned away from me, I wouldn't grab his face and kiss him anyway. If a guy stopped answering my text messages, I would stop trying to contact him. I would leave him alone.  And I especially wouldn't think, "Hey, that didn't work! Maybe if I text him a picture in-between my legs, that will coerce him!"

But apparently these things aren't such basic knowledge for some men.

I love what The Happy Talent blogger wrote: "If you are a woman who struggles to say no, reframe the way you think about 'rudeness.' It's not rude for you to say no. But it's extremely rude for people to keep asking after you've said no. It's not rude for you to say, 'STOP touching me!' It's rude for people to touch you without your consent. It's not rude to remove yourself from an uncomfortable situation -- it's rude for people to put you in uncomfortable situations."

For things to change, girls need to be taught that it's okay to be assertive...and boys need to be taught that...umm...there is such a thing as being too assertive.

And that's why I decide to post "Me too" on Facebook. Because although my story isn't unique and although so many women have gone through much worse than me, it still doesn't mean that it should be happening. Saying, "Me too" is about raising awareness about how common sexual harassment and sexual assault actually is...and that it isn't something that, as women, we should just have to live with or get used to, like we have been for so long.

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