Me too. Them too. Most of us. Most of us have experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault. While I am so glad that survivors are speaking up, at the same time my heart was breaking when I saw the amount of people participating in the ‘Me too’ movement. My heart aches knowing how much pain they have been through.
I personally became aware of sexual assault, harassment and rape when I hit puberty and ‘turned into a woman’. I suddenly noticed very different treatment and rules because I was a girl. I was being told to ‘not walk alone’, ‘better take a taxi’, to ‘cover up’ and avoid showing my body too much. I wasn’t supposed to stay out too late and most importantly I shouldn’t trust anyone with their intentions towards me.
Years later, when I was sexually assaulted indeed, even the ‘best advice’ couldn’t have helped me. I had no chance, I couldn’t escape. I wish that no person ever would have to go through this. I felt broken, empty and disgusted. How did he think he had the right?
The problem is that in many cases, rapists do have the right. Sexual assault is rarely punished, at least not severely. Millions of rapes go unreported as a result and thus rapists will never be punished. They run free and are a danger for so many other people.
I still think about it often. Sometimes it keeps me from sleeping. Sometimes I lose my appetite. Often, I have a hard time trusting people.
I did feel shame, but not anymore. I will never understand why it is more shameful to be raped than to be a rapist. While I don’t understand that thought pattern, I do understand where it comes from.
It’s institutions, it’s cultural beliefs, it’s society, it’s women’s position in society, it’s gender inequality, it’s the law system, it’s women’s sexualisation, it’s societal norms and values and so much more. The one good thing in all of this bad mess is that these are things that can be changed. It will take time, but I am hopeful. I am hopeful that through movements like ‘Me too’, we’ll manage to raise awareness and take the first step into a future, where sexual assault will always be unacceptable.