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What #MeToo Actually Means to Most of Us

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By PENNY MORRIS  |  Truckee

As the #MeToo phrase has become so common, it can be easily overlooked. I’ve heard people refer to the #MeToo movement as women being too sensitive. In fact, many politicians have referred to it as that. I would desperately prefer to not relive my own accounts, and as a survivor of many forms of violence, including sexual violence, I can say I would love nothing more than to forget it happened, and believe many other survivors would also share that sentiment.

Unfortunately, during the past week, an incredibly brave woman recounted her story for the world to see. A survivor had to retell her story in detail while her alleged perpetrator stood to be appointed to one of the highest positions of power in our country. This situation is one of my biggest nightmares. And it played out over every media outlet. The haunting details brought back my own memories, and as PTSD would have it, left me crying when I would have rather been doing anything else. My own experiences of gender-based violence and harassment were so many that the most offensive memories are what remain stuck in my memories. For so many years I also believed that much of what happened to me was my fault. It was my fault because I wore shorts and a bikini to the beach; it was my fault because working in customer service, I smiled at everyone who came in; it was my fault because I made eye contact with men; and so on. I share these experiences because one in four women in the United States have also experienced sexual violence. My experiences are not extraordinary, and because #MeToo is so common, it’s easy to understate the impacts of sexual violence and harassment and forget how serious each story is.

My own memories resurfaced, as many others did, which is evidenced by the 201 percent uptick in calls for support by the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline; this entire presidential administration has been one big trigger after another. As a survivor and as a woman, having people in the highest positions of power that make derogatory statements (“Grab her by the ---”), hold oppressive views, and take action to regulate women and all minorities, is deeply unsettling all day, every day. When Trump was elected, during every appointment, and during the Kavanaugh hearing, all I can think of is, “What am I going to tell my daughters when they ask what I did to protect their rights? To protect our planet?” In response, I must be able to say, “I did everything I could.”

If politics seems contrived to you, vote to change them! If you are outraged by people getting raped and the rapist getting let go, vote! If you don’t want kids locked in cages and torn from their families, vote! If your right to exist is important, vote! It is important to vote for Democrats because they are the politicians that are prepared to stand up for people’s rights, they are prepared to stand up for us, they are prepared to change the current political structure to be more equitable. The Republican Party is resorting to gerrymandering to win elections because they aren’t actually represented areas.

“We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.” — James Baldwin

~ Penny Morris lives in Truckee with her two daughters and husband where she enjoys the beautiful natural resources. Penny holds a master’s in public health from the University of Nevada, Reno and works in health care consulting locally. She has spent many years working with nonprofits and toward social equity.

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The Opinion Page is your place to spout off. This section contains letters to the editor and longer My Shot pieces. Also, the Spout features two bimonthly perspectives — In the Past, delving into Tahoe Truckee history, and In the Moment, an artistic musing of a moment today.

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February 14, 2019