We Sing a Song that Cries, “Me Too” by Guest Writer Emily Turner

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Guest Writer: Emily Turner; Indiana, United States

In 2017, Alyssa Milano urged women on Twitter to use the phrase “Me too” as a label for women who have been sexually assaulted.

“Me too. Suggested by a friend: ‘If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too.” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem’” (@Alyssa_Milano).

Milano’s call to women referred to anyone who was a victim of sexual assault, even though she began this Twitter movement during the Harvey Weinstein controversy. Weinstein, a renowned movie producer, was accused by 90 different women (primarily actresses he worked with) of sexual assault.

 “We were set up for meetings despite [Weinstein’s] proclivities and penchant for rape and sexual assault. I look upon that as human trafficking” (Rose McGowan).

Although McGowan’s recount is horrifying on its own, her experience with Weinstein reflects only one of the many unwanted sexual encounters that women face. Since 2010, there have been over 96 million posts on Twitter alone revolving around sexual assault.

Living in a culture such as today’s where rape widely occurs, I often wonder when I will say, “Me too.”

*

I typically don’t trust men. 

When I walked alone on campus last year and saw a man headed towards me, I would look down to the pavement and walk past him, quickening my pace. The longer I’ve been on campus, however, the more desensitized I have become to the idea of sexual assault. I no longer walk on campus in fear, although I’m just as likely to be sexually assaulted now as I was a year ago. Rape is all too common on campuses, yet anymore I find that I ignore the threat, accepting my fate as a future rape victim. 

When I encounter older men at work, I try to avoid them. I remain cautious of the friendly ones, but the quiet ones with the long, worn faces, I stay away from altogether. My male bosses’ gaze makes me nervous. I stand mere inches from the office door whenever I need to ask them a question. I am thankful for my one female boss, who, I like to think, looks out for her fellow female employees. 

When my male professor asked me (out of the entire lecture hall) to come to his office to discuss his class last semester, I immediately thought, “This is where I get raped.” Upon thinking such an explicit thought, I felt I was being outlandish, so I ignored my fears and replied to his email, asking where to find his office. Before committing to the meeting with my professor, I texted my sister, friends, and boyfriend about the situation in case they didn’t hear back from me. 

I hid my pepper spray in my coat pocket and gripped it as the meeting began. My index finger sat atop the mechanism, preparing to push the trigger in case I needed to release the stinging spray into the eyes of my professor; my remaining fingers encased the hard, three-inch-tall, plastic cannister. As the meeting progressed and I began to sense that he probablywasn’t a threat, I released my grip on the meager weapon. My professor, a married man with a young son, seemed harmless enough, and much to my relief, the office door remained open the whole hour that I was there. I finally relaxed. Of course, he had the potential to leap on me and hold me down. I still consider this possibility. 

Nothing happened. We talked about how to improve his class. 

And I sit here trying to understand why I instinctively don’t trust men: I’m one of the few women who, so far, hasn’t been sexually assaulted. I think of my ex-boyfriend, who, after dating me, went on to rape two different girls, yet somehow, I avoided it. Unless trifle experiences count like inappropriate comments or the occasional request for nudes in return for a favor. I’ve never been physically attacked. 

I fear I won’t be able to avoid my rape. 

*

One in six American women face sexual assault. 

Mom. Alicia. Amber. Sarah. Larissa. Me.

Me. Larissa. Sarah. Amber. Alicia. Mom.

Amber. Alicia. Sarah. Mom. Me. Larissa.

Who is it going to be? Who has it already been? 

One catcall. One groped ass. One rape. 

*

I wonder when it will happen. Will I make it to 30 years old without being sexually assaulted? I would consider myself lucky if I make it to 50. I doubt, however, that I will go my entire life without being assaulted. 

*

Despite not feeling like going out one Friday night, my friends convinced me to go to a party. Trying to find our way, we stumbled along a neighborhood sidewalk. The brisk wind smacked our exposed faces; the endless, night sky hid us from view. We were only seen when we ambled beneath the occasional street lamp. I might’ve felt protected being encompassed in such darkness, but we made a wrong turn.

As we started to turn back from where we came, three or four guys came out of a house to their car. I can’t remember what provoked them to talk to us nor all that they said; I do remember, however, them telling my friend and I to kiss. I declared that I was taken, but they insisted that my boyfriend would enjoy seeing me make out with another girl. 

We walked off after that comment, not wanting to subject ourselves to their sneers any longer, but even after leaving, our encounter with them left me upset. Though they only taunted us, I felt threatened by their demeaning presence, their ability to overtake us if they so felt like it. I cried out to my friends, “They could’ve raped us,” repeating it a few times until we came across the party. My friends brushed it off. I can only assume they, too, have become desensitized to the reality of their potential rapes. 

*

Sometimes I wonder who it will be. If it will be a stranger, fucking me while unconscious at a frat party. Or if it will be someone who calls themselves a “friend,” betraying me as I cry, “No, no, no, no.” In the aftermath of Harvey Weinstein, I could see a future employer threatening me with my job in return for intercourse. I can’t bear to think that it would be a family member.

                                                                  *

After I had bought some new clothes this past summer, my mom tried to tell me that my shorts were too short, and she made the comment, “Well you know how guys view short shorts.” 

I blinked at her and replied, “I’m not going to change what I wear for guys.”

We went back and forth for a little bit, our retorts bouncing off each other until she finally exclaimed in a hot-headed manner, “It arouses them!” 

Perhaps she was trying to prevent the rape that I always expected. Still, I believe that I shouldn’t have to cover my body to lower the statistics. Even if I wore clothes that hid my breasts and didn’t show off my butt, I would be just as likely to get raped as any other women, no matter how she dressed. 

I argued, “Well that’s their problem. I am not going to change myself for them. If they can’t control themselves, that’s their faults.”

A pause.

“I tend to disagree with that.” The conversation ended. 

 Walking out of the room, defeated, I could only mumble, “whatever,” in response. Anger, and to a certain degree, sadness, welled up inside of me, making my organs feel like some sort of beat up yet over-inflated balloon. My mother might have been protecting me, but all I could think was how if I were ever raped, she would question me, scrutinizing my claim. Would she, instead of supporting me, ask me what I was wearing at the time of the attack? 

I sighed. 

If I am ever the 1 in 6 who says, “me too,” who would believe me if my own mother wouldn’t?

                                                                  *

Once I do get raped, I wonder if anyone at all would listen to me. The people that I love most in this world would probably believe me. Their support would help nourish me as I recover from the assault, although I would never be able to gain back all that my rapist stole. What disheartens me the most is knowing that the vast majority of the world wouldn’t believe me due to the society in which we live. The world would turn its back to me, leaving me to suffer in silence while my rapist walks free.

*

The “Me Too” movement gave victims a voice that they have for so long fought for. They unburied and revealed to millions their traumatic assault stories just for old, conservative men to listen, yet they are mocked and silenced in response. Hence why people like Donald Trump or Brett Kavanaugh are elected into positions of power despite their many sexual assault accusations. It is obvious that their stories are not taken seriously. Women are not taken seriously. Our pleas are in vain, and all I can do is worry for the safety of my loved ones. I worry for when “me too” turns into “us too” and “her too” and “my roommate too” and “my mom too” and “my best friend too” and “my sisters too.”

I fear for when the one in six women statistic catches up to me, when my long-waited anticipation comes to an end.

About Emily Turner:

Emily Turner is an undergraduate student at Ball State University, majoring in English studies and minoring in creative as well as professional writing. From a young age, Emily has used reading and writing to express herself, and through her writing, she hopes to deliver her personal truth to her readers.

REFERENCES:

Used Twitter for the Alyssa Milano quote

https://twitter.com/alyssa_milano/status/919659438700670976?lang=en

Used database for Harvey Weinstein information in third paragraph 

WEBLEY ADLER, KAYLA. “U.S. ‘My Body and Spirit Were Stolen.’” Marie Claire (US Edition), vol. 25, no. 2, Feb. 2018, p. 82. EBSCOhost, proxy.bsu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f5h&AN=126848673&site=ehost-live&scope=site.   

Used an interview for Rose McGowan interview in fourth paragraph (same link as bullet point above)

WEBLEY ADLER, KAYLA. “U.S. ‘My Body and Spirit Were Stolen.’” Marie Claire (US Edition), vol. 25, no. 2, Feb. 2018, p. 82. EBSCOhost, proxy.bsu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f5h&AN=126848673&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Used a Washington Post article for information in fifth paragraph

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2018/01/22/how-metoo-really-was-different-according-to-data/?utm_term=.80443db6e14e

Used a data analysis sheet from RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) for the 1 in 6 women get assaulted throughout essay 

https://www.rainn.org/statistics/scope-problem