It was my fault for wearing a backless dress that allowed a stranger to slip his hands down my back and underneath my underwear. "Nice dress" he calls out after I whipped around and rudely shouted "Excuse you!?" across the bar.
This is a small incident that I had long forgotten about until today. This #MeToo
campaign does more than show the world how mistreated people are - it reminds us how mistreated we are. When I think sexual assault/harassment my mind flashes back to one or two larger incidents. I forget about the drunk guys at the bars, slaps on the butt from male climbing partners, and close friends who are just "touchy" by nature and get away with more than they should.
I'll never forget a seminar I attended in college about sexual assault. It was the first time I had ever been told that it wasn't my fault for wearing that dress. I was 19 or 20 years old and it was the first time I realized that the victims weren't the ones to blame - that's two decades of believing it would be my fault if I walked the wrong road, wore the wrong clothes, or drank any amount of alcohol.
The magnitude of people who have been harassed or assaulted is a strong indicator of the world we live in today, but I think a stronger one would be to see those who have done the harassing. These are every day people, not just some drunkard in the street. These are your friends, roommates, brothers, sisters, boyfriends, and girlfriends. We need to act more like a community and speak up when we see even the slightest thing out of place. Change requires intentionality from everyone - that means you and that means me.