I was hit on by someone in a position of authority over me, and inappropriately touched by a colleague on several occasions. I can say “Me too”.
But that’s not enough.
In both those cases, I was physically stronger than the other person, and had options for getting out of the situation. That position was ending soon, and I could often avoid the person who touched me. I wasn’t catcalled, groped on the bus or subway, called a slut or sexually assaulted. I know many women—among my church, family and friends who have been. I have tried to work against all kind of sexual harassment and violence, and I could say that I stand with women who have been threatened or attacked. I could say “Me too”.
But it wouldn’t be enough.
Because men, including myself, need to say “Me too” about participating in a culture and society where women are treated like objects. About seeing women as something to “get”. I would like to say that I never thought that way or spoke that way, but I would be a liar. I could say that I was younger, that I was raised in a town and time where using women was drilled into males from a very young age, and that this socialization is ingrained in our society so deeply.
I could say a “Me too” to being socialized to use women, but that isn’t enough.
Look at the language of “get” that men use: I “got” a girlfriend. I “got” laid. Even I “got” married. This language of acquisition and possession can morph quickly into actions that “take” instead of “get”. And taking another person is violence on any level. I am sorry that I have participated in that, but that’s not enough.
I am trying to live my life in a way that does not objectify, harass or molest women (or anyone else). I’m not perfect, and I fail. That’s not an excuse, nor a plea for pity or cheap forgiveness. What I can do is join with other men in a different kind of “me too” campaign, where we commit each other to recognize our participation in objectifying and demeaning women, and we commit ourselves to working with other men to stop it.
That could be a really good thing for us men to say, “us too”.
Be Justice. Be Beauty. Be "Us Too".