Me, too.

It really does not matter if it is our President, a Hollywood mogul, or a bunch of teenage boys careening around in a car... So many of the women I know have been victims of sexual misconduct, sexual aggression, and unwanted sexual advances, both in and out of the workplace.
The recent social media "Me, too." campaign was nevertheless startling since so many of the women I know posted Me, too. posts on their Facebook pages. Some are very close friends of mine and this was the first I heard about the fact that they had been molested.

We don't talk about that kind of stuff. We talk about kids, jobs, passions, disappointments, family. But we almost never speak about this. In fact the first time my daughter or husband knew that I had been molested was when I stood up during a presentation of the Vagina Monologues at the University of Pennsylvania, a production my daughter was producing. An actor asked all the women in the audience to stand if they had had this kind of experience, and I would estimate that 70% of the audience stood. It was the kind of thing that renders one speechless. I stood. I cried.

From early teenage years, being the well endowed girl that I was, I was always cat called from passing cars. I reacted to this by wearing baggy clothes that hid my figure, by ALWAYS carrying something in front of my chest (for a period of 3 years from age 11-14) and being completely ashamed of my body. The somewhat harmless catcalls graduated to daily encounters in the Philadelphia subway where I was dry humped by an older man every time I was on the crowded subway car with him, a peeping Tom looking at me naked in my bedroom, and a cavalcade of anonymous men who felt that they had the right to touch or pinch my breasts at will. These are experiences that you just do not forget. Or the encounters on an Israeli bus where a man put his hand up my skirt- and at least that time I was old enough and confident enough to shout at him, and he quickly exited the bus.

No, we do not ask for it. No I did not dress to entice. No I did not do really anything to encourage this behavior except have a large chest. And no, I did not say a word, since I felt guilty that somehow I was to blame. Until this posting, I have not shared this with anyone... and I should have. I should have told my mother, my friends, my co-workers. I should have screamed that these guys and pointed them out instead of bearing the humiliation silently.

The effect it has had on me- I still will not wear a form fitting top or dress. I never ever wear anything  low cut where my cleavage could even peek out a little. I have never had anything but a one piece bathing suit. I still walk around with my arms across my chest in a defensive pose. And it has taken me years to dismiss the thoughts that maybe I did something wrong.

I did act. I started a firm that would not tolerate this kind of behavior. Many times in business meetings I was the only woman in the room, but my past made me pretty strong with a "Take no shit." attitude that many men found threatening. They were not used to a strong female. I became bold enough to question unethical behavior and certainly would not countenance any aggression - sexual or otherwise- in my dealings with clients, vendors or staff. I have raised two now grown children that know what is acceptable behavior and what is not.

I remember that when I saw my beautiful strong daughter grow up and mature with a body like mine, my first thought was fear. Would she have to face the same kinds of things that I did? The catcalls, the stupid jokes, the errant hand, the pelvis thrust from behind? And honestly, I never really talked to her about any of this until now. I realize now that my silence has aided and abetted these creeps. I have taken great strength from reading about so many women who have come out of the shadows and admitted that this kind of thing has happened to them. I am sorry. I am sad, and most importantly, now I can say that I am angry and have found my voice.

by JudyK