Sexual Misconduct and Me Too

When I was in 8th grade, I went to see Ferris Bueller’s Day off with my friend. We sat about 2/3 of the way toward the back of the theater, close to the wall. The theater was fairly empty.  About 10 minutes into the movie, a normal looking man in normal looking clothes sat down in the seat to my right. To my left, was my friend, an empty seat and the wall. Of course, I thought this was strange. Usually people try to distance themselves from other movie goers. But, he was an adult, and I was a 13 year old kid, so I didn’t say anything. I remember feeling so uncomfortable, I couldn’t watch the movie. I just leaned closer to my friend and stared straight ahead. I could feel him watching us.

A few minutes later, when this stranger started squirming in his seat, I glanced over. Though the theater was dark, it was very clear his fly was open, and I had my first, very shocking, very disturbing look at a penis. With no brothers and no internet, this was a first for me. The squirming got a little more pronounced, I could hear his quiet grunting and a few minutes later he left. I had been too afraid and too confused to get up and move, because this would mean I would have to cross his path. I was too embarrassed to yell out as it would’ve drawn attention to us. My friend and I never told anyone. We thought if we did, we would somehow get in trouble. And in 1986, as much as I want to believe otherwise, we may in fact have been blamed.

So … #metoo

There were other times men took advantage of me for their own perverse pleasure, nothing as horrifying as some of the stories coming out on the news right now. There was the time a man fondled himself a few inches from my face on a crowded subway. I was sitting. He was standing. It lasted three stops. There was the time the Urology residents got obvious amusement from having me close on testicular surgery. I was not experienced enough at the time to be entrusted with the task, but I remember being grateful to have had the opportunity. Humiliating or not, when you are third year med student, you jump at the chance to suture, and if you were the kind of girl who could take a joke, it couldn’t hurt your evaluation.

The brave women coming forward are making me look back. You probably have your own stories of sexual harassment, you may just not have labeled it that at the time. It was all part of being a girl, of being a woman. Some men were perverts and we dealt with it. We ignored it. We wrote it off as boys will be boys. I often write about the fears I have that our society and our style of parenting is screwing up our kids. In this instance, with sexual misconduct being brought to the forefront, I think our children are getting a great lesson. I hope my girls and boys will know to run away and speak up. I hope my boys and girls will know appropriate sexual boundaries. I hope if a man tries to force one of my daughters to watch him masturbate, she kicks him hard in the show. I hope the pathetic, harmful, sometimes criminal accounts being played out in the media will serve to not only allow victims to stand up for themselves, but will prevent would-be perpetrators from forcing their sexual agenda on someone else.

Too often, we never know how we touch someone’s life.

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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Physician, Wellness Coach, and founder of Tips From Town. She is passionate about sharing her medical expertise, her coaching techniques and her parenting experience to encourage happier and healthier lives.


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