by Nicole Perry
Yesterday the words “Me too” were re-tweeted, posted, and shared all over Facebook and Twitter. News organizations responded by reporting how Alyssa Milano’s initial call to write “Me too” if you have ever been sexually harassed or assaulted had erupted into a huge viral event. Was it a shock? Were people really that surprised? Or maybe it was only men who didn’t realize how pervasive of an issue this is. Are men that ignorant of what it’s like to walk in women’s shoes?
In her book, “What Happened,” Hillary Clinton touches on the fear that women feel in their daily lives. I hadn’t thought about it, but it’s true. One night I asked my husband if he understood that as a woman I’m afraid much of the time. He didn’t, so I explained it to him.
When I go for a run in the morning, I get nervous when I pass by a van, by an alley or find myself alone on a quiet street. If an elevator is broken in an office building and I have to take the stairs a sense of panic sets in when the door to the empty stairs slams shut behind me. I get shivers when I find myself looking for my car in a dark parking garage. At night I walk with my keys aimed out like a dagger in case some creep jumps out of nowhere. I always check the backseat when I climb into my car to make sure no one is hiding behind me. When I drive home I never pull into my driveway if there is a car right behind me. Instead, I drive around the block until they’re gone. When I walk into an empty house I always check around to make sure
nothing looks out of place. When my husband is traveling I lock my bedroom door.
The list goes on.
His response? He was shocked. He had no idea. Of course he had no idea that I felt this vulnerable, he’s 6’6”. It’s rare that he feels exposed. But there is a stark contrast in the level of safety that men feel in this world compared to women. And if you’re a man, unless someone has spelled it out to you like I did with my husband, chances are you’re probably oblivious to this, too. So when a woman feel harassed by a man, it’s more than just being told you have a nice ass or that a dress looks good on you. If guy tries to kiss you in the hallway, it’s more than just being flirtatious. Think about how the woman feels. Put it in context of a person who is already keenly aware of her physical vulnerability compared to a man, and how if a man wants to take advantage of her, chance are, there wouldn’t be much that she could do to stop it. What men might think is just a compliment, women see as a warning sign, or worse, a threat.
That’s why yesterday I and so many other women wrote “Me Too.”