I’ve been shocked this week by the #MeToo stories as well as the non-stories. And also the non-disclosures. Because if this many people are disclosing, my mind says three times as many are not. How in the hell did “it” get to be this prominent? This normal? This expected? It is like a pandemic. Only it is not. Because it hasn’t just come about. It is not temporary, and it is permanent.
Hell, I have a #metoo. Mine is exceptionally fucked up. Not that ALL of them aren’t, but mine was as special as it’s owner. It was 1998. I had just moved back to my small ass hometown. I was not “out” yet. I was going through a nasty breakup. I was a wreck, a basketcase, and there was a co-worker. An “out” lesbian. A nice enough person. We talked about my messed up life. It was cool to have an ear to bend without having to play the pronoun game. (That is the game us queers played twenty years ago before these young bucks decided to make up fucking pronouns and words). Aside from her, I had only told two people of my sexuality, none of them family.
But, as with everything in my life, the other shoe soon dropped. After at least four conversations, she decided she was in love with me. And shit got weird REAL quick. I mean, REAL quick. It was, hands down, THE most uncomfortable situation I’ve ever been in. And trust me, there’s been many uncomfortable times in my life.
The final straw for me was the night she stayed over after her shift ended to “hang out” with my shift partner. Only, every time my partner left the room to go pee or use the phone, or get coffee, the crazy bitch started running that mouth. After two or three weeks of crazy, the last nail in the coffin was rather amazing, as far as psychopathy goes. I had my back to her, sitting at the radio console (I was a police radio dispatcher) silently SCREAMING for SOMEONE to call out on a traffic stop or a burglary, or a murder, or a black male walking, hell SOMETHING, ANYTHING! Then I heard the words. “You don’t even care. I love you, and you don’t give a damn do you?”. I finally turned around, shocked and sickened, and all I could muster was a very lame, “Nope.” And then the words I’d been waiting on forever finally rang out; “13 to ******. I’m 10-50 on I-10 Eastbound at mile marker blah blah. Can you 10-65 a 10-28?” That was most assuredly THE loudest, most adamant “10-4, 13 Go Ahead” I ever transmitted.
Long story short, I had to disclose the harassment to my supervisor, our Captain, AND our Sheriff. I would have rather eaten horseshit. It was handled though. She was gainfully employed in a cozy State job within weeks after one of the best recommendations Captain Blah Blah ever gave in his career. And to this day, I truly believe that Captain “T” and Sheriff “A” honest to gods thought that I was so traumatized and upset about it because my stalker weighed every damn bit of 490. One of the Deputies summed it up when I told him over a few Natty Lites. “Damn. That’s worse than some big fat nasty dude hitting on ya. Wouldn’t a been so bad if she was one of them cute little dykes. That coulda been fun.” No. Seriously. I love that boy to death to this day, but he meant what he said, and that was what everyone seemed to get out of it.
On a scale of 0 to 10, my story pales in comparison to other stories obviously. I’d give it a solid 3. But the level of anxiety it gave me was around a 6. And the embarrassment, the shock, and disbelief was just wow. But, I digress.
My original point, was to point out the absurdity of the fact that sexual harassment, assault, and abuse is so prevalent in our society and so far-reaching. After this week, I’d be comfortable saying damn near everyone I know has been impacted by it in some way. Either personally, or someone they love has been impacted.
I see the blank looks. The zoning out. She is obviously thinking about it. Still haunted by it. Still hurting from it. It will never go away completely. Especially if she dares to watch the news, read a magazine, look at the internet, or a newspaper. Because there’s always a new story. There is always a new victim, a new offender. And always the chorus of boo birds in the balcony with their victim blaming and shaming. But the stories themselves are always the same. Like a blueprint has been secretly shared among the predators. A guidebook for preying on the weak and vulnerable. The stories are the same, only the characters and locations change. And because of this prevalence, this unusualness, we become more and more indifferent to it. We care less and less and we start to focus on the “roll the victim played” in their own assault.
Or we start to feel like we contributed by saying nothing, so we say things like the Hollywood folks are copping to now: I heard things, but I never actually saw anything happen. That is sick. It is really sickening. That we cop to that. That we have no gumption or desire to do something about something so heinous. Because we never actually saw it happen? Well, I’ve never seen a goddamned dinosaur either, but I know they existed. To say otherwise is fucking absurd and the same applies to these situations.
Until our society undergoes a major change in the mindset around sexual harassment/assault, we are going to continue to have generations of broken young women, and men, trying to navigate life with an inner trauma that some of us can only imagine in our worst nightmares. And those nightmares…. they’re bad. She has them, and I just hold her. I don’t think she even remembers them.
So, I don’t want to take to my grave that I just sat around and never said nor did a damn thing about it. So yeah. Me too. And her too. And him too. And them too. And I fucking believe you.