It was college and I was attending an overnight retreat with a coalition of student groups of color all seeking racial equality, human rights and social justice at UC Irvine. I fell asleep but was woken up in the wee hours of the morning to foreign hands invading my body by another student "activist" from a fellow organization. I completely froze up in the moment and told virtually no one about it after. Talk about being disempowered and feeling like you have no boundaries or rights to you very own body as a woman. #neveragain#noshame#respectgirls#respectwomen#metoo#wewontbesilent#patriarchy#sexism#womensrights#empowergirls#empowerwomen
After dismissing this campaign as another stupid trend, I've been so moved by #metoo and have had the best discussions over the last couple days. While I think it can be empowering and healing to share experiences, for me it's about raising awareness to break down systematic abuses and prejudices that happen every single day. .
I wanted to share my experience but thought I'm not 'known', no one cares, what's the point? And then realised if it encourages one person to speak up or get help then it would be worth it.
My first memory of that red hot shame came at age 12. Like most women I know, I have countless examples.. but safe to say I was bullied and harassed as a teen (though I didn't think it at the time) and came to believe all sorts of bad things about myself.
I was stalked at my after school job by a sexual predator to the point the police were involved. And then when I left home at 17 to go travelling with a friend, I was raped on an island in Brazil. The guy was a friend of our host and I felt so much shame I only told the friend I was with and swore her to secrecy. I thought it was my fault. Or a language barrier? Maybe he just didn't understand I was saying no.
Fast forward 12 years of working in a male dominated industry and while I know I have a pretty thick skin, I've witnessed and experienced every possible type of misogynistic and sexist behaviour out there, all while being told I'm "too sensitive, too much of a feminist, it's just banter, I'll never advance if I speak up" and every other pathetic excuse going. Well today I say fuck that. And even if no one reads this, I'm standing up to be counted and I applaud every single one of you who does the same. And I love you. #thisisme