Two words that seem so small and yet, somehow, are opening the dialogue to something long hidden.
I’ve stayed away from the phrase when I’ve seen it on Facebook and Twitter. Like many women, I have a story. I have moments that I cringe when I think about them. I have times where I wonder why I kept my mouth shut.
I am also lucky that I had people in my life who believed me- who helped me- who counseled me.
I never felt like I was alone.
But I can say, with absolute certainty.
As a high school teacher, this topic has come up more than once. Talking about sexuality and consent is an important part of education for all students, and even though it may not be directly tied to my curriculum, discussions begin and inevitably head towards the news.
And this is news.
So my idea of staying out of this became increasingly difficult today and at the end of class, a few students were hanging around my desk, talking about ‘me too’.
One looked at another and said, fairly loudly, “It’s happened to Miss Nadler.”
I asked her why she said that or more importantly, why she thought that- I have never spoken about any such matter in my class.
“You write about rape and you said writing is observation. Writers write about what happens to them.”
Now I never share my actual novels with my students, but they know what I write about. They know the themes. I’ve been interviewed in local papers and I’m very happy to talk about what I love about writing.
They can also look up anything regarding my books on the Internet and see it, too.
On the one hand, I was thrilled she actually remembered something I said during a lecture, but I was quick to correct her.
“Writers observe the human experience. We write the things that are hard to say. We write about life all around us, not just what happens to us.”
We spoke a little longer and after they left, I sat there and thought about things.
I don’t write about rape.
I write about survival. I write about the courage and honor it takes to pick yourself up and move forward after the unthinkable- whatever that might be.
I write about love and hope and resilience.
I also write men who believe and honor women.
That’s what I observe.
I began to think about the feedback I’ve received over the content of the books. It’s not just Brittany and her horrific attack, but Desi too.
I lost readers when I put Desi through such trauma. I knew that was a possibility before I wrote it and I did it anyway because it was important for me to show what is real.
Brittany’s assault was far more orchestrated, but Desi’s was more ‘real’.
Look at the amount of ‘me too’ posts all around if you need verification.
Let it anger you and frustrate you and maybe, just maybe, we can change behaviors.
I’ll never forget one of my first years of teaching and a parent cornered me at curriculum night and complimented my red hair. He then asked if my hair was red all over. He also sneered and asked if I had a ‘red breast’ because my name is Robin.
I remember being stunned and not saying anything.
I removed myself from the situation and continued on with my night.
I also remember telling my dad what happened a while after because parent teacher conferences were coming up and I was concerned about having to meet him face to face.
My dad offered to come to conferences and sit with me.
He also offered to do more, but that’s not really the point.
God I miss him.
I guess maybe the best thing we can all do is tell our stories. I can teach my students that they are in a safe place. I can encourage them to speak up.
I can listen.
I can believe.
It’s a start.