Me Too?

_DSC0351I have been in deep reflection over this “Me too” phenomenon.  I have been giving it careful consideration trying to tally those moments that would allow me to say, ah yes, it has happened to me, too.  It turns out, I don’t think I can say, “me too” quite that easily.

There was this one time when I was a teenager.  I was waiting at a bus stop when a creepy guy in a wheelchair wheeled himself right up next to me and grabbed my knee.  He was easy to escape.  I just got up and walked away.  I turned back to make sure he wasn’t hot on my heels and noticed that he was missing the same exact knee that he touched on me.  Maybe he was just feeling nostalgic for things passed.  Maybe he was just copping a feel.  Either way, I jumped onto the first bus that arrived oblivious whether it was the right one to get me home.  Thankfully, it was and the creepy wheelchair guy with his missing leg shrunk into the distance.

As a freshman in college, my rag tag friends and I decided to spontaneously drive to New Orleans from Tallahassee for Mardi Gras.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have a car between us.  I remembered Drew from philosophy.  He had a car.  We convinced him to join the fun and without any idea where we were going, where we’d be staying, we all piled in his car and took off for the Big Easy.  In this story, Drew was a perfect gentlemen.  It’s the crowds that were the aggressor.

I just remember the massive, oppressive, stifling crowds that could so easily just sweep you up and carry you off, grabbing and groping tits and ass along the way (never pussy, that’s just wrong, but really isn’t it all wrong??).  The hands came out of no where and everywhere.  I had to get out of that fucking crowd.  There were no faces so you couldn’t admonish the attackers.  After a few hurricanes, it didn’t matter quite as much.  I also remember sitting on the side of the street watching the parades, catching beads while sitting next to the actress that played Punky Brewster.  We got plenty of beads and the funny thing is neither of us ever lifted our shirts.

What I do know is that as a female I have had to quiet myself.  I have had to subdue my shine. I have had to lower my head, avoid eye contact, as to not welcome an attack.

When I was in residency, one of my attendings had my creep meter resounding at full blast.  I wasn’t the only one, our whole group noticed and met with the administration to voice our concerns.  I didn’t instigate this effort, but after that meeting he somehow turned his focus on me. He also went to administration and complained about my attitude.  They recommended that I seek counseling.  I didn’t have to, but I obliged.  The Psychiatrist said he wasn’t sure why they made me come, told me to just put my head down and get through it.  Don’t make waves.  Don’t say anything.  Just finish.  Graduate.  And get the fuck out of there.  He said it just like that.  So I did.  I quieted myself.  I dulled my shine.  I endured.  And I hated myself for it.

Years later, I ran into another former resident.  She told me to look up that attending from years before.  She wouldn’t tell me why, just said check him out.  Turns out that asshole had lost his license to practice medicine because of inappropriate behaviors and prescribing practices.  This is not so easy to do.  Doctors almost never have to give up their licenses.

There have been numerous instances over my years of study where I had to make myself small.  Quiet.  Unheard.  Dim my shine.  To be fully me would be to overpower, subdue, not physically, but mentally the men in my vicinity.  I learned that early on.  Maybe even from my father.  When my mother stepped out of line, he made sure she got right back in.

For some odd reason, I chose a career dominated by men.  Men who are often quite brilliant and quite insecure.  There were many times that I was embraced (and not in a pervy way).  They saw my shine and encouraged it.  Both men and women.  Because women aren’t completely innocent. When a woman sees another woman step out of line, she knows it brings attention to us all.  It puts us all in the crosshairs.  Instead it was those people that encouraged me that I chose to emulate.  My shine recognizes the shine in you and I want to encourage it. That’s why I do this job.  The funny thing is when someone is bright and shiny, it doesn’t diminish those around them.  We combine our brilliance.  We become bigger and brighter together.

Me too.  I have responded to the fear that those in authority have tried to use to control me.  I have let the fear win.  I won’t do it again.  Nothing, no one, is worth diminishing your shine.





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8 Responses to Me Too?

  1. Deb says:

    I was a teen in the 1970’s starting my first summer job, but even before that I was indoctrinated into the world of sexual innuendo by men, and much of the verbal “banter” that is assumed to be a hallmark of the time, and perfectly okay, even around a teenage girl. I had no idea then that this was inappropriate, or anything that today would be making news headlines. It was just what everyone did and I remember taking it as flattery. I have been touched in what was certainly looked at as friendly, unassuming, casual and caring displays by older men. I was in my 30’s and still but up with too much crap from a lecherous boss. If given the choice today, I would go back to each of those friendly, gregarious men and blind them with a collective brilliance greater than any sun until their eyes were mere black holes. Shine on, fiercely and proudly 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The only time I ever had a problem was when the owner of the company I was working for was upset about some journal entries and started yelling at me. I tried to explain to him that he was incorrect and my entries were right but he just got madder and madder and told me I was stupid. I looked at him and said, “Well if I’m stupid you must be the dumbest man alive”.
    “How dare you say that to me”. I stood there smiling and asked him if he would hire a person that is stupid, he answered, “No of course not”.
    “Well, you’re the one that hired me”, and I walked out of his office but not before I turned my head as I left and said, “Those entries are correct, call the CPA, he’ll tell who the stupid one is”. I went back to my desk with a smile on my face. I figured he might fire me but I didn’t care. He didn’t fire me and never raised his voice to me again. My parents always taught us to never let anyone talk down to you. I never have and at 74 I still don’t.
    I am proud of you for finally realizing not to take s–t from anyone, anymore. Shine on girl, shine on.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. V.J. Knutson says:

    I imagine that rare is the woman who has not felt the oppression of being female in a man’s world. I know the emotions of oppression often rear their heads in my poetry, sometimes unexpectedly so – it runs deep.

    Liked by 2 people

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