When I first started seeing all the “me too” posts, I asked my husband Aaron if it was only for women who have been physically assaulted. He said it was for any woman who has experienced sexual harassment in any way.
Then, without any hesitation, I said, “Oh, well then that’s probably every woman.”
I didn’t realize until after I said it, how horribly true that is. Tragically, we live in a society where it has become the norm for women to tolerate catcalls from the next car over and disgusting comments murmured by men walking by in public settings.
I’m not here to tell my story because the truth is, I have many. I, however, have not faced nearly what some women have and it’s been so awful to hear and read the stories of so many that have experienced the worst.
I’ve heard stories of it happening everywhere.
Clubs, parks, business offices, parties, churches, sporting events, bars, bible studies, retail stores, the list goes on.
The most devastating thing a person could feel is alone and unsafe. That’s what this does to people.
When we hear stories of a woman being attacked and raped while out on her run, we think, “That could have been me. What if that happens to me? How can I be safe from this?”
And if something does happen to us, we often feel alone and too disgusted or embarrassed to talk about it.
I just want to pause right here, if you have experienced some form of sexual harassment that has made you feel alone and unsafe, I am so sorry and I hurt with you. It was not your fault and you are not alone. Share your story with someone you trust and always, always know that you are valuable and worthy to be treated with love, dignity, and respect. Also, remember there are still good people out there. Surround yourself with people who know your worth and will treat you the way you deserve to be treated.
“Me too” shines a light on this disgusting epidemic of disrespecting your fellow woman or man that needs to stop.
Fellow Woman, Fellow Man
First and foremost, I want to say that everything I’m going to say is in love and comes from the most sincere part of my heart because this is such a tender topic that should be addressed with conviction but also gentle care for those that have experienced the worst.
I’ve seen a lot of ladies post things saying that men just don’t understand and if they understood, things would be different. To some extent, I agree. I think men don’t realize how often most ladies encounter some form of sexual harassment every day. Every day. EVERY DAY.
I can’t go to the mall or a grocery store or walk the pups with my sister without a man walking by me licking his lips or following me too long only to murmur something inappropriate when he finally walks by or yelling something out the window when they drive by. It’s sad that I’ve had to just learn to tolerate it and ignore it. And yes, I do believe that most men don’t realize how often we have to deal with it.
I do also think, though, that it’s not fair of us ladies to just lump all guys into the same basket of ignorance and even assume that they don’t “understand”. I am here to attest that Aaron can also say, “me too”. So he does understand.
A lot of the time, this conversation can be so one-sided that we don’t apply the same principles if the roles were reversed. Women sometimes are allowed to say things about men that are considered to be funny and lighthearted when we all know if a man were saying that about women, it wouldn’t be acceptable.
One example is the whole Gainesville Police Department selfie that went viral because so many women on Facebook were getting hot and bothered about it. Everyone said it was all “funny” but women were requesting a calendar be made of the police officers and last I read about it, they were going to make one to raise money for people affected by Hurricane Irma. That’s nice they want to help people affected by the disasters, but like this? Think if men were yelling out begging for a calendar of women who posted a selfie of them just doing their job. It would not be received the same way. People may say, “you’re blowing it out of proportion, they just want to look at them”. Well then I would just ask you consider that maybe Hugh Hefner and his playboy world are one of the contributors to why some men think it’s normal to objectify women.
Here’s another example that happened to Aaron and I just last week. We were at the Magnolia Silobration in Waco enjoying the great music and each other. Then suddenly, Aaron looks over to me and asked, “Did you just grab my butt?” As much as that would be a normal thing for me to grab my husband’s cute tush, at that moment, I didn’t. He said, “I just felt someone squeeze my cheek, I thought it was you but when I turned around, I saw a lady run away.” We were both so weirded out that we laughed and joked about it a bit. But what if that would have been some random man that had grabbed my butt? We would have been feeling differently. Granted, after we laughed, I felt like I wanted to cut somebody cuz I don’t like women touching my husband like that. Only I can do that. But I don’t know why, in our society, we think women sexually harassing men is humorous.
Now, I’m not trying to minimize the gravity of all the women that are finally speaking out and feel they have a voice. It’s so sad yet so empowering and I hope we as women don’t feel like we have to be silent about this because it’s not right. I do also hope we don’t allow it to be a one-sided thing where we don’t realize some men have been on our side of this and they deserve the same respect.
But men are dogs.
Well, not all men are. I want to encourage the men out there who believe women should be treated with dignity and respect. We need you to be strong. Be an example to other men you encounter and don’t let inappropriate behavior happen around you.
It’s not manly to disrespect a woman for her body. It’s not macho to walk by a girl licking your lips or saying something inappropriate to her to try to impress your buddies. It’s vile and animalistic. Men, please don’t encourage it by staying quiet.
Women, let’s do the same. When I read about the Florida “hot cops” of the internet, one officer who is married said that his wife was not about it and then after a while, she just had to realize there’s nothing she can do. Women online were saying some pretty sexually implicit things about her husband and she just had to come around to it. That sucks. I wouldn’t want that to be me and I for sure wouldn’t want that to be Aaron if the roles were reversed.
One time, Aaron and I were getting dressed to go shopping. I put on a cute dress with some vans. The dress wasn’t too short (it was at my fingertips which, according to the private Christian high school I went to, is the measurement for appropriateness haha) but it was a little form fitting so Aaron requested that I wear something around my waist because he says he doesn’t like it when he has to watch men walk by us and sexualize me in their heads and he felt this dress would cause it to happen more. He says it happens all the time and I wasn’t even aware of it. That’s how used to things I have become. So I put a flannel around my waist to cover my butt out of respect for myself, for sure, but out of respect for my husband too. That leads me to my next conversation.
Wisdom & Safety & Culture
As I talked about earlier, we’ve heard stories of sexual harassment happening everywhere. It feels invasive to think about and it should cause us to want to be proactive. How can we be rid of this kind of horror so that it doesn’t happen to us anymore or even more, to our kids?
We need a culture change and it begins with us. Men, we need you to be men of courage to step up against the inappropriate talk or behavior that other men may carry out around you. Let them know it’s not acceptable and that a real man respects women.
A REAL MAN RESPECTS WOMEN!
Women, we need to do the same and be careful to not antagonize all men and even be careful not to “lightheartedly” sexualize men as some areas in our culture have come to accept.
A REAL WOMAN RESPECTS MEN!
It goes both ways.
Moms and dads, please please please, teach your children what appropriate interactions look like between men and women. Teach them but also be an example in the way you treat each other and the way you talk to one another. They are listening to you, but probably even more, they are watching you. Dads, you show your sons how to love and care for and respect a woman in the way you love your wife and you teach your daughters what a real man looks like so that she won’t be fooled or confused later when she’s old enough to make her own decisions on men. Moms, you show your daughters how to respect and honor and trust a man in the way you love your husband and you teach your sons how precious women are so that he will grow up wanting to protect and honor the women he interacts with.
Wisdom & Safety
As some of you know, I lead worship for a lot of different youths in schools, youth groups, and bible studies. When these conversations come up, I think of those students, especially teenage girls, and how I feel a sense of urgency to warn them and to use wisdom to protect themselves from negative interactions. Sometimes, there’s nothing a woman has done to bring on the negative behavior from a man, but sometimes there are ways to minimize the chances of those things happening. To be honest, some of these tokens of wisdom are ones that I didn’t fully understand until my husband explained them to me and others are things that my mom has always told me. Haha, so they’re not all my wisdom, so I can’t take all the credit.
- Always be aware of your surroundings. This is something my mom would tell me everytime I would go out in public. With everyone being so addicted to their phones now, it’s even less common, but it’s so important. Be aware of what is happening around you, who is around you and don’t get caught up on your phone in public so much that you don’t see who is around you. This is for your protection so that if you see something that looks a little sketchy, you can be assertive enough to walk away or ask a friend to stay close to you.
- The buddy system is a real thing. I’ve heard some stories of girls being asked to stay back to talk in an unseemly dangerous situation only to have things turn into the worst. Especially if you are under-aged, you shouldn’t be alone with a man, but even if you’re of age, the buddy system could be the difference maker. This is true in all settings. Parties, churches, schools, business offices, bible studies. Unfortunately, no place is exempt. Ask a friend to stay back with you or come in with you or if you’re at a party, have a code that you won’t leave the other alone.
- Sketchy places usually come with sketchy interactions. This may sound like a no-brainer, but if I was talking to teens, I would let them know that you can’t expect to be treated in the most respectful way if you are going to sketchy places. I’m not trying to judge those places, I’m just giving logistical conclusions from experience and stories I’ve heard. Example: if you’re going to a place where people are probably going to be drunk, you will probably get some drunk interactions with people, meaning people will not be thinking as clearly which will put them at a greater risk of doing something dangerous. Logical. Be extra, extra cautious if you are in a sketchy setting or decide not to go.
- Try to think of how your clothing affects guys. I’m not gonna say don’t wear this or don’t wear that, but I am going to say that men, who are more visually stimulated, are affected by what we wear. Just like I shared earlier with my dress, I didn’t even think there was anything inappropriate with my dress and there wasn’t! It was even up to code with my private Christian high school dress code! Haha. But Aaron, who knows how guys think and who has noticed the way guys look at me more than I have, asked that I would cover up a bit more to minimize the amount of times it would happen. It still happened, but it happened less.
- Surround yourself with quality people. If you surround yourself with inappropriate guys who have shotty morals and don’t honor women, not only are you setting yourself up for possible bad things to happen, without even realizing it, you are lowering your expectations and you will find yourself settling. Guys, if you surround yourself with people with ill morals, you will find your standards lowering too. “Bad company corrupts good character” is not just a nice proverb, it’s a good word to live by. There are plenty of stand up guys and girls with great morals who respect and know how to treat women and men. You may have to wait a little longer to find them, but they’re out there and they’re worth waiting for. Don’t settle. You’re worth so much more!
These tips won’t stop everything from happening, but hopefully, it should help lessen the probability of more happening. I’m also not saying that if someone didn’t follow these pieces of wisdom they are “asking for it” because that’s not the case either. If a woman is wearing a short skirt, it doesn’t give anyone the permission to treat her with disrespect. If you go to a drunken event, you’re not asking to get assaulted, I’m just encouraging sound judgment and safety. I realize that men and women alike have experienced unsolicited harassment and I am in no way wanting to brush that under the rug. I do believe, though, in steps of action towards safety.
“Me too” has hit a chord in my heart. I sincerely hurt when I hear of anyone experiencing sexual harassment. If you have been a victim of sexual assault or abuse or harassment in any way that has caused you to feel alone and unsafe, please know that I am praying for you. Seek support, tell a loved one and hopefully, you can start the healing process. What happened to you was awful and very real, but it does not define you or your worth or your significance or your purpose. You are a beautiful treasure, worth more than gold. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, deserving of respect, honor, and dignity. I pray the Lord and His perfect love will heal the parts of your heart that ache and that you will find wholeness and beauty for your future days.