In the philosophy department at the Christian college I attended, there was a popular professor known for stimulating discussions, his laid back style, and having students in his home for his homemade waffles. As a college student this appealed to me and I signed up for one of his classes. His star students were well known on campus and I admit I studied hard to gain admittance into his star circle. That is, until the day he asked me to go to a movie with him. Like many have described, in that moment I felt a time suspended sensation. Did that just happen, or was it my imagination? I stopped going to his class. I did not want to be around him. I did not tell anyone. I got an A in his class.
As a graduate student I had a job working with a group practice of psychologists. The job fulfilled everything on my wish list. I had a flexible schedule. It was close to school, with good pay, terrific coworkers and on the job learning. It was ideal, save for the psychologist who would kiss me on the mouth. I Hated It. Recently, for the first time, I told my daughter about this experience. Even today, I feel myself brace because I still recall the sensation of his facial hair as he would approach for a kiss on my mouth, at work. I did not tell anyone. I did not tell him to stop. I tried to rationalize it. My self-talk went something like, ‘He’s an old man, he did not mean anything by it, he probably does it to other women and they don’t complain. You have to take the bad with the good.’ I did what legions of women have done. I endured and I repressed. When I completed my M.S. degree, I got another job.
When Marion Brown broke her non-disclose agreement and spoke about the harassment she experienced, my husband asked “why would she stay in a job for eleven years.” Ugggh, seriously, why is it that she, the victim, has to uproot her life, and the congressman goes unchecked? Marion Brown had four children to raise. Furthermore, as she stated on The Today Show, she enjoyed the work that she did with prison reform and she needed the income. The narrowing of positions at the top limit a woman’s ability to go from job to job, particularly when a letter of recommendation is needed. To think otherwise is to speak from a position of power. To Tarana Burke and the The Silence Breakers I say Thank You. Today I have words for experiences that I could not put words to or even process within myself when they happened.
I add my #MeToo not just for my daughter, but also for my son and all of the #MeToo voices who have spoken, the ones who remain silent and those yet to speak.