A great reflection on the #metoo phenomenon


Big thanks to Colby Cosh for this excellent piece. I encourage you to read it.

I have tweeted my #metoo like plenty of women I know. I have received a good deal of unwanted sexual attention since before puberty (the uncles and their uncomfortable comments about how good my shirt looked were the first). I started showing breasts at about 11 and I'm now nearly 47. In the intervening decades I've experienced everything from unpleasantly threatening double-entendres to two-on-one date rape. To this day I encounter men who think it's charming to press themselves against me - though to be honest it happens far less often now than it did even five or 10 years ago. I guess getting old has its advantages.

Note that I do not say I was the victim of sexual misconduct. I don't consider myself a victim. Plenty of guys have done me wrong - in various degrees - but over the years I have learned to deal with it. To some extent we'll never get rid of this problem; sex is so crucial to our survival as a species that powerful desire will always be here. And some people have trouble controlling their desires the same way they have trouble controlling their other, non-sexual emotions.

Yes, when someone touches you in the absence of consent it does leave a scar (again, the degree of severity varies greatly). You feel hurt inside. But you also grow from it - at least, that has been my experience. I do not pretend to talk for others, and if you are in a situation where you are still hurting, I would like to hug you and encourage you to seek help, and always remember that those scars do not define you.

What I like about Colby's column is the acknowledgement that maybe guys who never really thought about this issue from the point of view of those who are most often victimized by sexual violence need to pause and think about it carefully. I would push that point further and say that we all should also think about what sexual violence feels like for members of other groups, because it happens to men, too (from women, from men, gay or straight).

I don't know how to stop sexual violence. I've learned to deal with my experiences and I've tried to help women (and men) who've come to me with their stories. But one thing is certain: A little more empathy on the part of everybody is never going to hurt.

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