As #MeToo was making the rounds online and I was reading stories from friends and strangers, I thought to myself, how lucky am I not to have experienced horrendous sexual assaults or harassment. Sure, I’ve been flashed as a kid by a stranger on my way home from primary school. Of course I’ve had some old fella on the bus grope my ass. A flirtatious taxi driver locking his car doors on me, telling me how pretty I am and asking if I was single isn’t a big deal, right? That guy on a blind date who kept insisting on bringing me home despite my protestations, he was just being chivalrous, wasn’t he? Yes it was a bit awkward when I felt I had to let him in so he could use my bathroom, although I had already said goodbye to him with a polite handshake. He probably needed to pee very urgently. All not that bad, no harm done. Other women experience much worse.
Those are memories of uncomfortable encounters with strange men, creeps I never have to see again. I can compartmentalise those experiences, I can understand them and call them out as wrong. But what about those #MeToo experiences that are not with strange creeps but with boyfriends, lovers, someone you thought you could trust. That time when he got so drunk and wouldn’t leave me alone. I didn’t really feel like having sex but clearly he wouldn’t take no for an answer. Let’s get it over and done with then. But that’s not abuse, is it? You have sex with your boyfriend, right? Even if you don’t always want to.
Those are the experiences that make me struggle to say #MeToo. I hesitate to call out that behaviour for what it is – abuse, objectification, entitlement – because it’s been done to me by someone I love. I feel guilty for making accusations, for blowing things out of proportion, for misreading the situation. I bury my feelings and worry more about making it difficult for the other person than for myself. But if I can see that behaviour as wrong in strangers, shouldn’t I be able to say #MeToo when it comes to those who supposedly cared about me?