Toronto
Canada

This is a storytelling space that focuses on documenting life experiences, ranging from motherhood, to travelling, and every inspirational idea in between.

#MeToo

Life

#MeToo

Sultana Patail

As much as I support the cause, I didn't change my status right away. I had to take a step back and ask myself why. The reason saddened me.

A number of years ago, when I was in my 20's, I was riding the subway with a friend, when she motioned suddenly toward the man next to us. He looked straight forward, an unblinking soulless stare. I didn't understand at first. But then I looked down and realized he was lightly rubbing his hand up my leg without me noticing. I sat there in shock for a moment, unsure of what to do. I sat there frozen until she pulled me out of it and urged us to get off at the next stop.

I didn't change my status, sadly enough, because I didn't think I qualified for "sexual harassment". The issue is so commonly widespread, and affects so many of us, that there is a spectrum ranging from inappropriate comments to bodily harm. Somewhere in my sub-conscience I thought: "This happens to so many women, what happened to me doesn't even count."

...this happens to so many women....

I realized that, that thought in itself, is part of the problem. We dismiss and we ignore because it has become a part of our daily lives as women. Whether it's catcalling, crude jokes, or worse, we put up with it because we honestly believe it's part of our gender identity.

At the time I brushed it off, chalking it up to another ridiculous TTC story. But for years it ate away at me. I felt violated. I felt like an idiot. The questions started seeping in: "Why didn't I defend myself?" "Why did I silence myself?" "Why didn't I take a picture of this creep and report it?" Was it enough to warrant reporting?" "Was my outfit too provocative?" "Was I asking for it?" These are the questions I faced in my head. These and worse are the questions that women face when they report. We are taught not to demand societal respect of our bodies regardless of the circumstances, but rather to judge ourselves, feel guilty and ashamed.

Stepping forward, speaking up, speaking out, takes great courage and bravery. Whether it's a day after it happens, or years, it matters. It makes a difference. So thank you to all of you who support the cause and have shared your story, because, well ... #MeToo