When everything blew up and the #metoo movement exploded last Fall, I watched as one Facebook and Twitter follower after another shared her stories of being abused or assaulted. I remember thinking, I’ve been through a lot, but thank you, God, I’ve never had to deal with this.
But then I thought some more, like about thirty seconds more.
When I was 10, a peer wanted to pretend we were boyfriend and girlfriend and touched me inappropriately.
When I was 15, I was flashed by an adult man right outside my home.
When I was 21, I was tricked into a solo lunch date by a much older male boss who hadn’t told me we’d be alone.
When I was 30, I was pressed up against from behind by a married male peer at a church leadership dinner.
When I was 45, I was made to feel extraordinarily uncomfortable by a man who placed his hand on my knee, for far too long, and called me ‘honey’. (“I’m not your honey.”)
When I was 47, I was cat-called, “Nice ass!” by a carful of teenage boys (“Ew, old enough to be your mother!”)
Not to mention, when I was 21-40, I was in an abusive relationship. (Funny how that didn’t even cross my mind. Seriously.)
And I’m sure there are so many more instances that my mind has pushed back into its recesses.
I think most women would be able to name at least one incident in their lives when a man made them feel uncomfortable, if not ashamed or hurt or attacked.
It’s an interesting time in our culture. Women are coming forward, finding their courage, finding their voice. Men are being called out left and right. Some own it, some do not. And then there are the pastors who are being accused, which is simply heart-wrenching.
I read an article from a male actor who said basically that he wants to treat every woman in his life with respect but that it feels murky. For instance, a female colleague of his said, “I can open my own damn door,” but when he asked his 27-year-old daughter about that specific act, she said, “I actually like that.”
I guess where this brings us is that we probably can all agree on some black and whites…do not make a woman have sex when she doesn’t want to, do not hit (or kick or etc.) a woman, do not call her names of any kind, but especially sexual ones, do not assume a woman wants to be hugged or touched.
All the rest, ask. Outright ask her. Every woman is different on the minors. Some women, like me, now assume my door will be opened for me, thanks to my chivalrous husband. Some will tell you to take a hike. But ask. Keep the conversation open – BUT APPROPRIATE.
And when in doubt, please, just don’t.
If you are in an abusive relationship or have been assaulted, contact the National Abuse Hotline: 1-800-799-7233.
If you need to talk, let’s talk.