Here’s the thing about sexual harassment… it leaves invisible psychological and spiritual scars other people can’t see or notice. Like a dozen women and loved ones I know, I’ve done a good job at hiding them too but- simply because you can’t see them- it doesn’t mean the scars are not there. This right here was me seven years go. A 22 year old outgoing girl. Fresh out of college, straight into the corporate world- a world that is still mostly dominated by men. Motivated, hard worker, honor student with exotic physical traits that caught the attention of the occasional bystander and made it easy for men AND women to label me. Big eyes, big lips, big smile, and a skinny body I used to dress in pencil skirts, suits and dresses to play the role of a Private Banker. For the past two years I’ve wondered when it was exactly that I lost respect and admiration towards men and, last night as I scrolled down the 435,469+ photos under the hashtag #metoo, I remembered it clearly. It all started in my teens with the boyfriend that called me a “slut” and punched the wall behind me while I cried my heart out and covered my face with my hands fearing that he wouldn’t be able to control his anger, or the stranger that slapped my ass at a bar while I was talking to my girlfriends, or the drunken assholes who pulled my arm and whispered discounting words in my ear, or the work colleague who couldn’t keep his eyes to himself and undressed me with every stare, or the other married work colleague who told a friend all the things he would do to me if he had the chance, or the “guyfriend” who put drugs in my glass of water, or the neighbor that followed my every footstep. Every word, every touch, every stare, every text, every action did not only push me to see men differently but it also gave birth to a fear women shouldn’t have to experience. The fear of looking too pretty or too sexy, the fear of walking alone at night, the fear of parking your car in a place with no surveillance cameras, the fear of getting in an argument with a man who can’t control his anger, the fear of staying at work until too late, the fear of living alone, the fear of having one drink too much, the fear of getting in a taxi or bus by yourself, the fear of speaking up and losing your job, the fear of men.
It shouldn’t take a Hollywood mogul sexually assaulting and hurting 30+ women for us to finally speak up! Now, more than ever, is the moment when women all around the world should come together as one force. Listen to each other, help each other heal, protect one another. None of us is alone in this and our past does NOT define us. Let's use the painful fuel and memories to become wiser, better, stronger and fierce women. And to all men that keep complaining that women have become too independent, too powerful and too intimidating, realize that your actions have pushed us to get here. Instead of becoming victims of your ego, we chose to rise above it. Want to be real men? Let us pave our own paths without throwing stumbling stones at us. Protect us. Listen to us. Stop seeing us as pieces of meat or toys you can play with. Realize what we could be your sister, daughter, mother, wife, friend. Respect us, treat us equally, and set the example for your future generations. It’s that simple.