I’m going to be brutally honest with you.
I did not like the #MeToo campaign that spread virally through our society this past October. Every, “Me Too” hashtag literally made me cringe every time I saw it. I avoided reading people’s posts about it. I embarrassingly judged other people for posting about it and chose to turn my head in the opposite direction.
Why? Why did I feel this way? Why did I react this way to such a powerful movement?
Because it’s heartbreaking to visually see how many girls and women in our society have been sexually assaulted or harassed. It’s devastating to know many of these girls and women have suffered in silence for many years, most likely blaming themselves for the actions of boys and men.
I can remember the first time I was sexually harassed, very vividly actually. Unfortunately for me, I went through puberty at a very young age. I think I was wearing bras in grade 4. Not only did puberty give me boobs at a young age, it gave me the unwanted attention of males at a young age as well. I remember a boy a few grades above me, making an extremely vulgar comment to me. I did not even know what sexual intercourse was at this age, but I knew this comment made me feel extremely uncomfortable, vulnerable and violated.
During my elementary and high school years, as young girls and women, we were not taught about sexual assault or harassment in school. No one told us that certain things should not happen to us or be said to us. We learnt about rape and non-consensual sex, but that was it. I didn’t know that other boys and girls shouldn’t be making comments about my breast or body type. I didn’t know that people sending me un-wanted pictures of their naked genitals was not okay. I would actually be surprised if anyone around my age did not have a #MeToo story.
So why am I speaking up about sexual harassment and assault if I didn’t like the movement at first? Because it needs to be talked about. If it makes you feel uncomfortable to hear these stories, then good. It should. Uncomfortability brings change and our culture and society need to change drastically in this area.
My #MeToo story doesn’t end at vulgar comments I got during puberty and my high school years. These comments continued into university, they continued through my year of professional dancing and they also continued into my years’ of professional cheerleading for a country large football league. My #MeToo story also doesn’t end at comments. I have been sexually assaulted at bars and I have also witnessed my friends be sexually assaulted in similar situations. My #MeToo story includes slut-shaming, non-consensual sex tapes and even non-consensual sexual intercourse.
This simple, short hashtag is a lot more complex then it appears to the eye. For me, it’s full of lots of past pain, guilt, blame and hurt. It’s also full of strength, forgiveness and healing. I let the pain of my past, dislike this movement, but I am choosing to let my strength talk about it now.
Let’s use the heartbreak of this movement to inspire change in the future.