#MeToo by Michele Stopera Freyhauf

metoo image 1Once again it is time for another blog post, and once again I find it difficult to write.  The news embroils you in a landslide of negativity and you feel like all common sense and rationality has dissipated – I even made the comment that I am glad I am not young because I fear the state of the world in the future.

With that said, the one thing discussed and needs to be discussed is the #MeToo movement.  First, yes, I have several stories, and yes, I stayed silent for over 25 years.  Did I attempt to resolve the issues with the remedies available? Yes.  Did I suffer backlash? Yes. To the detriment of losing my job?  Yes. Did I consult an attorney? Yes.  What was I told – move on or risk being blacklisted from your field – as a new career professional in her twenties, there was no choice?  Yes.  Did it happen again?  Did I out of fear, just try to stay away from the person but never reported it?  Yes.

As, as a first-generation business professional, it came to be understood by me that this was just the way things were in the business world – some called it harmless flirting, yet others called it joking around – it was just a different world then as it is today – women were trying to find their place in the professional world in new positions with new opportunities – or so it seems. I guess we make excuses for it, try to cope with our decisions, try to cope with why it happened. Some women chose to ignore it (yes, they were the ones labeled “bitch” or other derogatory terms) and, yet others would go so far as to change their appearance to the point they felt it was them causing the unwanted advances and comments.

It wasn’t until I saw that my own daughter, about the same age, has already had an unwanted encounter and it was there I felt like I failed, both as a mother and as a person trying to make the world better for the next generation.  I am still grappling with that.  So I thought with this post, I would do something different and let the readers share their stories.  For those who do not want their names revealed, but would like to share a #MeToo story, I am happy to post your story anonymously; just e-mail it to me at biblicalfem@gmail.com.

There is something to be said to getting this issue out in the open – first, you are not alone; second, we heal through community and through common plights; and third, we need to come together and stop such abuses, if not for this generation – for the next. Understand I want this to be a dialogue of support, which means any nasty or condescending remarks will be removed.

I look forward to this journey together and wait to see who, along with me, have been sexually harassed and yet have been forced to look the other way or move on for whatever reason.

Your Turn:  Add your story in the comments section belowmetooTHUMB


Categories: abuse, Abuse of Power, Community, Consent, Gender and Power, Gender and Sexuality, General, Politics, power, Privilege

Tags: , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Thank you for this post and for offering a safe place for women to speak.

    One of many reasons I write novels is that I do not (yet) want to tell my story/ies directly. Some are relatively clear and simple, some complex, some inchoate. As a counselor, I have worked with many people who were assaulted as children, often within the family. Many of them were afraid to speak or did not know how. Very often if they did speak, they were not believed, were dismissed, shamed, or punished. Sexual abuse and abuse of power is rampant in the workplace and in the home. It is often, but not always, directed towards women, and often, but not always, perpetrated by men. So many stories, so many lines crossed and blurred. Spent my life writing about. Enough said for today.


  2. My story is a positive one of sisterhood – I was warned by another woman & was able to avoid an unwanted touching. Decades ago, I was a new Visiting Assistant Professor, hoping this might turn into a tenure track position. My first week there, a femimist I’d only met once in another department invited me yo lunch. At our meeting, she told me that she had filed a sexual harassment claim thru HR there against the Chairman of my department for touching her breasts. He was a liberal, with an informal, egalitarian professional manner – and, a ”huggy” kind of guy. Hugs he iften initiated with colleagues & students. Was considered cool. In hug, he had fondled her breasts. He told HR that he’d just been misunderstood & any perceived breast touching was accidental. HR nevertheless officially (but confidentially) warned this male prof to cease any such behavior. My new friend suspects there had been other complaints since HR gave the warning right. She said she was not supposed to disclose to this to anyone, as a condition of this HR resolution. But as a feminist, she did not agree with that, and asked me not to discuss it – except if I felt there was some other woman who might need to know. Wow, I was so appreciative! All first semester nothing untoward happened. There was one sideways over the shoulder sort of hug. I kept a friendly distance & I’d initiate a handshake when he’d cime into my office & head toward me to say hello & was raising his arms o hug. It stayed that way a while. Then one day, I was in my office standing in front of a bookcase reaching for a book on a high shelf. My door was open. I heard a sound & turned to see the department chair headed close to me with arms outstretched to give me a bear hug. Because I’d been warned, I just had time to put my arms in front of my chest holding the book I was getting down. He tried to hug me – and this time one of his hands had moved inward and would have been right on my breasts except I was holding the book there.
    He was startled by that & moved back,
    saying “Oops, I must have tripped.” He clearly knew my move with the book was deliberate. I moved back, and said “Have a seat, what brought you to my office?” Things stayed casually friendly the rest of my year there. He never tried to hug me again. (And any talk of possible tenure track disappeared.)
    I called the woman who told me & thanked her again. Sharing this with my students years later as an example of sisterhood & prevention of harassmemt was very effective in helping them see that small acts can have big results.

    Liked by 4 people

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