These are some of my #metoo stories; a few I’ve never shared. I’m sharing these because they left me feeling like all the things women so often feel when they are harassed, objectified, and assaulted: confused, shameful, embarrassed, or less than. In italics, I wrote the words I either told myself or heard from others in each situation. My hope in sharing is that it will open your eyes to the pervasiveness of the culture in which we life. Knowledge is power and we repeat what we don’t repair. If this moves you in some way, please consider joining me.
- I was hired only if I agreed that sexual harassment didn’t exist. I agreed, I needed the money. I thought, what does it matter if I got bigger tips? But the truth remains that I was agreeing with them that I actually didn’t matter. It’s not that big of a deal.
- He ignored me after that night. The night we hung out after work. He wanted to have sex and I did not. He laughed and talked about me behind my back with the other servers. I was a tease, I flirted with him at work and led him on. Of course he expected sex after I flirted with him, he’s a man.
- We are kissing, and he’s pulling down my pants. I pull them up. He pulls them down. I pull them up. Over and over we play tug of war with my pants until my belt loop breaks. I finally have the sense to leave. At least he didn’t rape me. I shouldn’t have let him lead me in there.
- I get an email from a “perspective client” saying he needs help with his fetish of smelling women’s dirty underwear. He wonders what mine smell like. He can’t help himself, he needs help.
- “Why do you bother being a bartender or getting a college education?”, they said, “you should strip. You’d make more money that way”. They would all go down to Atlanta watch me and give me big tips. “Why are you embarrassed? You should be flattered we think you’re hot.” What I heard was, you’re not worth anything else except your body and the pleasure it can bring men, Lauren. Maybe I should be flattered. It’s not that big of a deal.
- “He wants to have sex with you,” she said in front of a room full of people, completely out of the blue regarding a graduate school professor. My face is red. Was that supposed to be flattering? I’ve never found the fact that men wanted to have sex with me flattering. As dumb as I was in college, sex was sacred. Maybe she was just trying to be funny. It’s not that big of a deal.
- “He’s trying to get me to have sex with him in the bathroom. I don’t want to.” I said. “Oh! You have to, he’s so hot!” she said. What I want doesn’t matter. I should be flattered he wants to have sex with me because he is hot. Don’t be such a prude. What I want doesn’t matter. Make sure you save his feelings. It’s not that big of a deal.
- He asked if I wanted to go watch a movie at his apartment. I naively thought we’d watch a movie and make out. I was naked in seconds, his fingers inside me; he didn’t even bother with the pretense of putting the movie on or kissing. I kept pushing his hands away, drunkenly saying stuff like, “but we don’t love each other”. I didn’t shout, “no!” I agreed to go to his apartment. I called him in the first place. I didn’t want to have sex, be naked, or have his hands in me, I was pushing him away. He knew, he was trying to talk me into it. He made me feel like I was nothing, but this is my fault, I led him on. I should’ve known better. It could’ve been worse. So many women have been through worse. It’s not that big of a deal.
I want you to know that I’m ok. Most of these experiences happened a long time ago and I’ve done good work through counseling, my relationship with God, and talking to dear friends to heal from the lies I’ve believed about my worth or who I am. Big or small, our experiences shape the way we view ourselves, sex, and intimacy. But if I can make this world better for my kids, you better believe I’m going to try and I’m not going to stop trying.
Please check out my last post for how to respond and what you’re worth if any of this sounds familiar to you.