Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 02/11/2019


Dreaming girlI felt no need to participate in the #metoo on social media.  It felt too much like an indictment of the entire male population. Too broad a stroke of the proverbial brush.  Besides, I’ve seen lots of sanctimonious men, casting aspersions on their male counterparts. Eager to take everyone else’s inventory, instead of looking at their own behavior. Suggestive comments on Facebook. Double entendres. Off color remarks.  While not assault, it is disrespectful and belittles women. And I see it every day on Facebook.

I’ve had what in 2019 called a #metoo episode, twice. The first time I was 7. Walking home from a friend’s house in the middle of the day in my Malvern, Pennsylvania neighborhood. A man drove up, parallel to me, and gestured for me to approach his car, saying he needed directions. I did and found an aroused male, masturbating. I can still see the look on his face as I gasped, wide-eyed. I ran all the way home and unbelievably never told anyone about the incident until four decades later. The second time was on the New York subway, when a male sat down next to twelve year old me and put his hand on my back, moving southward, at which point I shot away from the bench and changed seats, only after putting a three-car distance between us.

What’s all the #metoo about? A solidarity amongst women? United against men? That gives me no satisfaction. I get no feeling of unity from that. Haven’t we always known the prevalence of this assault? Knowing my next-door neighbor had to endure this isn’t comforting.

And the timing of #metoo doesn’t make much sense to me. This is a horse-has-already-left-the-barn conversation. Wouldn’t we be better served amplifying the no-means-no narrative. Preventative stuff. Smashing the boys-will-be-boys cliché. Slamming the well-what-were-you-wearing angle. Teaching our daughters that they don’t have to tolerate disrespectful comments or actions.

I oftentimes wonder why that eight-year old self didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t think it was my fault. Shame? I really don’t know. I can’t put my finger on the why. Why stay silent?  Why bury this deep inside? Why keep it in the shadows? I can’t reach back far enough to “get” what I was thinking as a seven-year old. I still remember it vividly. I can mentally replay what happened that day. But I don’t know the thought process that had me deciding, at some point, that this was something that I had to keep silent about.

So let’s give women the voice they deserve. So we can eliminate #metoo, without disparaging some really good men.

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