Yeah, Me Too

I first noticed the #MeToo statuses pop up on my Facebook and Twitter feeds Monday and my fingers hovered over the “copy and paste” button for awhile before deciding against it.

The stories I was hearing from friends and strangers were harrowing. Brave people sharing their worst moments and the reasons why they chose to remain silent for so long. I thought of the events in my life that made me consider a #MeToo post and decided they weren’t “bad enough” to warrant a public statement. So I let the “true victims” have their moment.

But isn’t that how “rape culture” gets propagated?

To the woman who was catcalled: “At least you weren’t groped.”

To the woman who was groped: “At least you weren’t raped.”

To the woman who was raped: “What were you wearing? How much did you drink?”

And, after all, boys will be boys and you know how men are.

It’s a compliment, Amanda Gayle. It’s a joke, Amanda Gayle. Why are you such a prude, Amanda Gayle?

So, for all those moments when I was caught off guard, left stuttering, searching for words, or browbeat and bullied into keeping quiet, I’m standing up and being counted now. I’m saying, “Yeah, me too.”

I’m a well-educated professional woman. I’m independent, self-sufficient, and fairly confident. But there were moments.

At twelve I sat on a concrete slab at the “mouth of the holler” (it’s an Appalachian thing) after band practice, waiting for one of my parents to pick me up on their way home. A car full of high school-aged boys drove by. As they stopped at the intersection the driver rolled down his window and leaned out, “Hey baby, need a ride?”

There was a lewdness to the question. The other boys got the joke. They laughed. I did not. I only felt uncomfortable, dirty, intimidated.

When I mentioned it to an adult: “Maybe you just misunderstood. They were probably just trying to be nice.”

So, yeah… Me too.

“Don’t go to the bathroom alone,” my mother always warned me as she dropped my friends and I off at the mall, “Those hallways are dangerous. Rapists can hide in them.”

I used to hate the way she warned me about rapists. As if they were lurking around every corner. But I never walked down that long, dark hall alone to go to the bathroom. I always took a friend.

So, yeah… Me too.

I was still in junior high when I went swimming with a friend and a boy I liked. He grabbed me by the arm and let my friend flounce through the door, leaving us all alone. He kissed me. I slapped him. He apologized. But in the end, everyone decided I was the one who overreacted.

So, yeah… Me too.

My first day at college I sat in my dorm room, waiting to meet my new roommate. A frat boy was walking the halls of the freshman female dorm, inviting any girl he met to a party. He stood in the doorway of my dorm, smiling, asking where my parents were, why I was alone, if I had a boyfriend. I lied. I said I did. I just wanted him to leave. I felt like a trapped animal and there was something lurid in the way he was asking me personal questions.

So, yeah… Me too.

I was bending over the water fountain in the lunchroom of the factory I worked at in my early twenties. He grabbed my butt. I jumped and shouted. He laughed, “Calm down, Titties, I just want a drink.” He stepped in close, his face close to mine, his intentions clear before he leaned over and took a drink while I was trapped against the wall.

So, yeah… Me too.

Did I mention the men at the factory called me “Titties”. That was their name for me, because I’m well-endowed.

So, yeah… Me too.

Did I mention I started developing early, while still in elementary school and my school yard bully used to taunt me about my developing breasts. He wanted to see them.

So, yeah… Me too.

And because of those taunts I wore baggy t-shirts through junior high and high school and college because I didn’t want boys staring at my chest. And still, the men at the factory nicknamed me “Titties.” As if that was all there was to me.

So, yeah… Me too.

My fiancee and I had long conversations about sex and about waiting until marriage. He actually brought it up first. He wanted to wait. I was relieved because I did, too. But as the the engagement drew long he began to drop hints he was tired of waiting. We talked about it again. We agreed to wait. But that weekend he drove me out to a distant rural road. I didn’t know where we were. We were just driving. But then he pulled off the road under the interstate and looked at me, “Let’s see what we can get up to.” I told him no. I told him I was comfortable. I told him I didn’t like this. I told him I wanted to go home. He sat there, glaring at me, pouting, moaning about how he had missed out on “all this” in high school and indicated he thought I was the kind of girl who made out in cars all the time (I wasn’t) and that he thought I was being selfish. I told a friend later who called me a prude and told me I needed to just “give him what he wants.”

So, yeah… Me too.

And there was the guy in seminary. The one I made a complaint about. The one I was assured would not be graduating with an Masters of Divinity (the credentials needed to be ordained in most denominations). He did. I was encouraged to speak to his superior. Many other women had already filed complaints. I added my story to the growing list. He came to the school with a male friend and cornered me at closing time, accosted me about making a statement, and wanted me to clear it up. I called university police to walk me home, but was told they couldn’t leave campus… not even to walk two blocks. I had never made a complaint before. But I could see the trainwreck coming and thought I’d do something to stop it… an ordained minister has access to vulnerable people of all ages and it seemed unthinkable to put a predatory person in that position. But he simply moved to another state and was ordained. And all my discomfort and fear and courage was for nothing.

So, yeah… Me too.

There was the male minister at another denomination who kept telling me he had never seen a “lady preacher” before and kept stroking my arm, rubbing my back, and tried to touch my hair only to be offended when I batted his hand away.

So, yeah… Me too.

There were so many moments that I just took and filed away under, “boys will be boys” and moved on because I didn’t want to be labeled a troublemaker, a prude, a “feminazi”. I sighed and said, “Well, it could’ve been worse” and let it go.

But the reality we have a problem.

The problem is, God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them, male and female God created them,” and we treat the image of God as an object to be sexualized, fetishized, ogled and groped and demeaned.

So today I join my voice with so many others in saying, “Me too” because I look in the mirror and see the image of God in this imperfect face. I know that I was created in God’s image. I know that I’m God’s precious child. And I know that the image of God does not deserve to be groped at a water fountain, given demeaning nicknames, catcalled at bus stops, stalked, gaslighted, or otherwise intimidated.

Until we can hear those who bear the image of the God crying out for relief, until we can look at those perpetrating the wrongs and say, “Enough! This is not what any of us were created for. Set these people free of your harassment and brutality and set yourself free of this sin!” then we are only damaging the image of God.

And I won’t be party to that. Not anymore. So I join the cry for justice: Me too!

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