Tagged: me too

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009: On #metoo

Warning: Potentially triggering stuff ahead. Nothing graphic, because I’m lucky that way. Also based on this Instagram post I wrote in Swedish.

I was quiet all through the #metoo campaign. I didn’t speak up because I felt like my experiences weren’t ‘enough’. After a conversation with a family member (of which, let’s not talk about it, but I didn’t walk away happy) and a subsequent Twitter thread that I deleted almost immediately, there’s something I haven’t been able to stop thinking about.

I was twelve or maybe thirteen years old; quite shy, quite sheltered, did not understand boys or why people kept talking about them, which is probably why I didn’t realise sooner what was happening. At the time I thought I was just stupid. But that’s how it goes.

A man kept calling our home phone when I was home alone. He said that he was a co-worker of my dad’s. I don’t remember his excuses other than that, I just remember that he kept me talking, making me divulge details, and when I did he always said “oh right, I knew that, your dad told me that”. He called a few times, I think. It was pretty innocent, really. Until the time when I reminded him of my age, which he’d conveniently forgotten (again), and he said: “thirteen, eh? I bet you’ve gotten breasts by now, don’t you?”

I slammed the phone down, unplugged it (and the other phones in the house), and I can’t remember how much of this I told my parents, but it ended in us changing phone numbers.

He never tried to find us, which was lucky, given all the information he’d gotten out of me without me even realising. He probably had a dozen other underage girls he kept calling. That might’ve saved me.

Another time, when I was in my twenties and alone in a laundromat (the unmanned kind, vague clean with ‘doesn’t work’ scratched into the doors of the dryers that sucked but were never fixed or replaced), a guy started talking to me. He had a developmental disability of some kind. He told me people were never nice to him because of it, but I was. Because, you know, why wouldn’t I be? I felt bad for him until he asked me to show him my pussy. I was so startled that I just stared at him and finally told him to never tell another girl that.

I grabbed my laundry and walked home. We lived close, and I made sure he didn’t follow me. I locked the door and folded the laundry I meant to fold before going home, that was shoved into the hamper. I never told my now-ex. I never told anyone, actually. I just forgot about it. Until now.

These two things I didn’t think was enough for #metoo. Nobody touched me, right? Nobody chased me down. I was lucky. Both of these times I was lucky.

It still counts. Even if I was lucky. Even if it was just words. It’s not conflating the ‘real’ stories with things that are smaller, less painful. With stories you can forget, that you can call important until the day you remember.

It counts. count. You do as well. No matter what happened (or didn’t happen) to you. No matter if you’re comfortable sharing the details or just want to say “me too” and leave it at that.

I put these two stories down to show that it doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to be brutal. It can be a guy who doesn’t know better, because nobody has taught him what’s appropriate and he’s the kind of person who needs it spelled out, carefully. It can be the sort of man who dials numbers on random, years before there were things like caller IDs.

I don’t really know how to finish this post. It’s just been sitting half written in my drafts for weeks now, and I think I want it out there. Without excuses. Without apologising. So yeah. Here it is.