Thursday, 7 December 2017

#MeToo, But Please Not Them

I just finished reading the TIME Silence Breakers article about the #MeToo movement. It talked about the great shift enabling women to stand up and say they have been victims of inappropriate behaviour, harassment, abuse and rape and equally importantly that people will believe them. I want to join in the voices, I want to say “me too”, but I will never tell my full story. I’m not alone, but I am one of the many who will never tell the truth.

A black and white photograph of a close up of a dandelion against a blurred background of grass


Many women won’t speak out because fear stops us. They may fear they will lose their job, they will lose respect or there may be repercussions from the perpetrator.  My reason for silence is no different, I stay quiet for the fear of hurting others, a fear of upsetting my family. And what good would it do to speak out? The person involved can’t be made to pay for his wrong doings. No good would come from telling my story.

The thing that struck me most as I read the TIME article was a brief mention that many of the women they had spoken to felt they were some how to blame for the actions against them. It doesn’t matter how many times people tell them it’s not true, it doesn’t matter if logically they know it wasn’t their fault. Like them I have feelings of guilt and responsibility.

I was too young to know better. A need to please other people combined with not feeling able to speak out meant the crime was repeated. It was a crime and it wasn’t my fault. They were old enough to know it was wrong and I should never have been put it that position.

It was too long ago to fight back, I can’t make them pay, but there is one thing I have vowed to do: I will make sure my girls are never in that position.

I worry for my daughters' future in a world where it has become normal and acceptable to make gross statements and grab the opposite sex as a joke. I hear worrying stories of young boys asking girls to send them pictures of their breasts and expecting their girlfriends to perform activities they have seen in too easily accessible porn. 

I cannot stop the comments my girls will hear, I cannot stop people feeling they have a right to to touch them, but I will do my best to ensure that they know their body is theirs. They never have to let anyone touch them if they don’t want them too. They can ask someone to stop at any time. If they are uncomfortable with something they should trust their gut, it doesn’t matter what other people think they should do, what they think other people are doing, they should do what is right for them. And if something happens they should speak out.

Two young girls walking hand in hand away from the camera partially silhouetted by the setting sun

Of course this isn’t an easy thing to teach. I try to teach that their bodies are theirs, but there have been times I have gone against what I preach: when Little is mid nappy change and tries to run away before being cleaned up; when my eldest was burning up with a temperature, but refusing much needed medicine; in the nurse’s room where M didn’t want an injection. No means no unless your mum knows better apparently. 

The times I haven’t listened to their cries makes me feel uncomfortable. I use an arsenal of persuasion, bribes and negotiation to try and change their mind, but could that be worse than just holding them down?

Most of us will instinctively fight back if forced to do something we don’t want to do. The danger is when someone uses persuasion, friendliness or rewards to make you think something is ok. It is harder to say “No” when someone is nice to you than when they are rude.

If a man came up to my eldest daughter in a playground, picked her up and carried her off she would scream and scream. Everyone would look and hopefully someone would go to help. If a man came up to her in a park, chatted to her for a while and asked her if she wanted to go see something she may well go off with him happily, and no one would notice anything was wrong.


I am determined to make sure my girls are not in a position where they come to harm, but also to give them the tools to know what is right and what isn’t so they can protect themselves. I will keep talking to them in an age appropriate way and encouraging them to tell me when something is wrong. I will have the difficult conversations with them that no one ever had with me. But when it comes down to it, I don’t know if I can ever do enough.
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2 comments

  1. A brilliant and very powerful post lovely. These are all thoughts and feelings that I have often. I worry about where to draw the line between being a mum and forcing my children to do something they are not happy with. It is so hard. But this is such an important post. Hugs Lucy xxxx

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    1. Thank you Lucy. We have so much in our past that we can't control, but hopefully it will make us stronger as mothers xxx

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