I have a hard time being a feminist.
Let me explain.
Whenever someone experiences anything remotely sexist, I am the first one to stand up for him or her.
A guy is being creepy toward a friend at a frat party, I call him out. A girl is being slut-shamed? Not on my watch. I wrote an article in high school about the importance of feminism after one of my teachers said he was going to have sex with a student.
I support equality for all genders, races and sexual orientations. I am proudly a feminist for everyone except me.
A guy is being creepy toward me at a frat party, and I think that’s the price I pay for being there — what else should I expect?
I get called a prude or a slut, I see it as my fault for being too open about my sexuality, or not open enough.
Sure, I wrote an article about feminism in high school, but I followed it up by crying in a bathroom stall after a group of boys told me that I wasn’t hot enough to have radical opinions.
I feel inadequate as a feminist, despite the fact that I subscribe to everything feminism represents. The recent Twitter trend, #MeToo, has caused these feelings to bubble up even more.
Over the last few days, I’ve seen many friends and family members post #MeToo on various social media platforms, signifying that they have experienced sexual harassment or assault. I sat behind my computer, horrified but unsurprised.
If I were to ask any one of these people what happened, patterns would appear: a boss using a bit too much innuendo, someone not taking “no” for an answer, spreading rumors about false sexual conquests so that friends will be impressed, a person outside of the standard gender roles being taken advantage of, just because they’re different.
I sympathize and empathize with these people, because what woman hasn’t taken the brunt of an inappropriate joke or “accidental” butt grab?
However, I can’t help but wonder what incident was powerful enough to make them post #MeToo. Because I don’t know if I have any.
Does a male teacher intentionally walking in on me while I was using the restroom in preschool count? He was checking to see if I was staying hydrated.
How about being told to wear shorter shorts in sixth grade by a boy?
Does having a boy repeatedly follow me and ask me out after I’ve said no many times merit a hashtag? Or does it take having a man make a crude gesture toward me on streets?
Does it have to be more recent? For instance, does being grinded on by boys at frat parties without any consent from me powerful enough to make this post appropriate?
If those things happened to one of my friends (and they have), I would say absolutely. None of those people had the right to abuse your body and personal space the way they did. Of course, as clichéd as it is, it’s easier to stand up for others than to stand up for yourself.
I would never post #MeToo, because there are people who have had far worse experiences than me, and I wouldn’t want to diminish their stories with events that now seem insignificant to me. We definitely need to have a conversation about how society treats sexual harassment and assault, and I am all for participating in that conversation.
But it’s impossible for me to see myself as part of a statistic. I wouldn’t want to be seen as dramatic, or unreasonable, or out of line, or any other adjective used to describe women when they talk about their experiences with sexual harassment and assault.
I wish I could finish with some grand plan for reform, but I don’t have an answer for this. I don’t even know if there is an answer to this. I couldn’t tell you if I’m right or wrong or anywhere in between.
Are you disgusted by all of this?