I'm nervous about saying "me too".
I've seen conflicting views all over various recesses of social media concerning whether it's appropriate for men to say "me too", considering how it comes out of the recent disturbing (but not unforeseen) revelations about Harvey Weinstein, et al., and (as far as I can tell) it's a useful awareness-raiser regarding sexual assault on women perpetrated by men.
It's a truly vital issue. And should not be ignored.
As a man myself, I strive to be as respectful as I can, and as supportive, towards any and all genders. I've even called out people for sexism, homo- / bi- / trans- / whore-phobia, and SWERFing. As a British person, speaking out is hard to do... but if it's your mother, or sister, or boss...!
That doesn't mean I'm blameless. Just as you can't rightfully damn me for whatever certain people of my gender have done, there's still a lot to do. Outing Weinstein is a step, but the fact that it proves to be the tip of a whole iceberg of sexual abuse just goes to underline how much has happened. I feel guilty, really, for not being able to do more.
Having said all of that, here goes.
When I was 16, I was (almost) sexually assaulted. Without going into the details (because they're a little fuzzy, and it's not fair), I'd gone to my sort-of girlfriend's house to lose my virginity. Attracted to her though I was, when the time came, I realised that I wasn't ready. I didn't feel ready, and when I told her so, she asked again. I refused, a little firmer, and she tried.
Though I did, eventually, manage to talk her out of it, she persuaded me to act as if we did have sex that afternoon, just for me to save face (or so she said). I was reticent to do so, but I did, mostly out of guilt for what I saw, back then, as denying her sex. I "confided" in my token black friend, who told Lightsinthesky, whose mouth went into overdrive. My sixth form was ablaze; when, eventually, I told them the truth, nobody believed me. I'd had sex and nothing else mattered.
Three years later, I had sex with her. In the intervening years, we had both grown up. I had had my first relationship; she had become recklessly promiscuous. We had remained friends, and when we eventually did have sex, this time I felt ready.
This is, more than anything else, the reason why I'm nervous about saying "me too". Part of me feels as if I invalidated what happened by having sex with her (fifteen times...), although, logically, that couldn't be further from the truth: every time is different. The fact remains that she tried to force herself on me... and that she cajoled me into lying to everyone.
Whether or not this all counts as sexual harassment, I don't know. It didn't feel like it at the time, but looking back at it now, I did endure an uncomfortable, anticlimactic few days, followed by a year of rumours (some of them quite nasty) about my sexual habits.
I'm also willing to wager anything that the fact I stayed friends with her - and slept with her too - isn't a unique characteristic.
I genuinely don't know what I'm trying to achieve by sharing all this. Compared to what some people have gone through, it seems trivial. I certainly don't mean to devalue anything that's happened to any of the women (and any/all genders) following the social media trend. This isn't a "what about the men?" post, either. It is, however, something I did have to share.
So now I have.
With apologies, and no lack of anxiety...