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The #MeToo Campaign

Fingers crossed that this trend continues. For the past 10 days, I've been feeling energetic for the first time since? It's been so long I can't remember. I'm feeling cautiously optimistic. It feels like I don't have depression anymore. What an amazing feeling that I hope never ends. Its kind of ironic as this time of year gets difficult with the shorter days. I've been using my Verilux lamp in the morning as I have for the last few years so I'm not sure if that has anything to do with why I'm feeling good? I'm feeling better now than I did a year ago. 

I was fortunate enough to attend a Hillary Clinton
book signing. It was an amazing experience
to get to meet her. She has actively worked
on improving the lives of women and children
and continues to do so.

Depression doesn't affect me in ways someone might think when it comes to energy. I'm high functioning in that I'm not catatonic. It's just that my energy is limited (occasionally it feels like gravity is turned up or I'm trying to walk through waist-deep snow thankfully not often). A friend once explained to me what it's like to have Lyme disease (unfortunately she has chronic Lyme) and used a spoon example. Let's say you have 15 spoons and each spoon is worth energy.  If you want to complete a task such as doing your laundry that may cost you say 3 spoons. Because you have a limited number of spoons you have to choose very carefully what you spend your spoons on. I have to spend my spoons wisely because while I may have 15 spoons everyone else has 25. Today I'm lucky as I feel like I have 23 spoons instead of 15. Over the past 10 days, it has felt like I had 25 spoons every day. I have the energy to do the things I originally had to put off for not having enough spoons. I feel like I have the energy for some 'extras'.

It's been a busy summer and fall for me (when is life not busy?). I studied and passed the ACSM CPT exam and the ACE GFI exam. I'm especially relieved and happy that I passed the ACSM CPT exam. It's an exam that isn't always passed necessarily on the first try. I attempted the exam two years ago and waited a while to make sure I had the information down solid before I took the exam again. Now I'm focusing on my personal training business, my health, and my family.

When I think back to when I was first diagnosed with depression it felt like my life was over. I was putting so much pressure on myself to be the perfect student, mom, and spouse. Perfection is a dangerous trap because there is never an end to it and it has taken me a while to come to that realization. It's impossible to be a mom who is in college to get straight A's, train for a marathon, manage a house, the kids' schedules and make time for your partner. That's the trap I fell into and it nearly ended my life because I felt like I was a failure for not keeping up. Are there moms who can do all the above and be happy? I haven't met one yet. I think about my boys and the example I'm setting for them. It's important to have goals and aspirations but not to the point where you drive yourself mad. There is a meme that I saw that has a triangle of three options and you can only pick two. The options are: clean house, happy family, happy mom. 

Lately, there has been much talk in the media about the #MeToo campaign along with all the allegations that are coming out against actors, politicians and anyone basically in a position of power. Tarana Burke is the originator of #MeToo that started 10 years ago. She has an organization Just Be Inc. that helps young women of color in Philadelphia. Alyssa Milano used the hashtag #MeToo on twitter in reference to Tarana Burke. Since then many people have posted #MeToo on social media in response to sexual assault or harassment in the workplace or everyday life.

When I first saw the tweet I wasn't sure it was appropriate for me in turn to use the hashtag #MeToo. There's this feeling that it's something so personal and I feel like it comes across as jumping on the bandwagon. In addition, the phrase originated to bring awareness to young women of color who have been victimized and I'm white. Then the thought of how so many people are #MeToo struck me. Everyone who tweets it isn't a young woman of color as the original intent of the 'Me too' phrase began. I also read an unusual and angry post on social media from a woman that was seemingly offended at all the women who were posting their experiences and that an individual doesn't have to post #MeToo to validate the fact that they have had an experience. After thinking about it I decided for myself that it was OK to declare #MeToo. Am I a woman of color? No. But I did experience sexual harassment in my early 20's (not to minimize the sexual abuse I experienced as a child).

One of my #MeToo experiences: My boss was being a little bit short with me and would come up behind me at times while I was sitting at my desk and put his hands on my shoulders and massaged them. As time went on he would become more forceful to the point where it was painful. In addition to this, there were other abuses or nuances such as treating me like a pariah, playing mental games and stealing my work.  Over time I felt more and more isolated. My breaking point is when my boss stole my work for a presentation I was supposed to be doing and presented it as his own. I contacted my boss's boss and told her I needed to meet with her. I sobbed in her office and was so afraid that no one would believe me. After telling her all of my experiences she said: "He did this to the last person that worked for him". Thankfully I was heard and he lost his position working for the nonprofit. He was immediately let go and I never saw him again. Unfortunately that same day at work my tire was knifed. Coincidence perhaps? I think not but I had no proof. 

The reason I say #MeToo is women have been marginalized for so long. So many untold stories. So much shame victims hold onto for fear of retribution or not being believed. Some people will say: "Why is she coming out now to accuse him? Why did she wait so long to say something?" "I think she wants to make a name for herself or she wants his money." Are there a few woman who may have done this? Nothing in life is 100% outside of death and taxes. What I do know is that history has shown the lack of equality woman have had for decades. What does a woman have to gain in speaking out? Historically speaking it was a woman's fault for how she dressed. The burden of proof was always placed on the victim. Speaking out would lead to a revictimization process. People questioning what your motives are for speaking up. It feels like society was saying men are not to be questioned because they have value in our society in comparison to women. We live in a country of innocent until proven guilty however it gets difficult when the person who has been victimized is forced to show a burden of proof. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to show a burden of proof when the perpetrator is in control of the environment and able to isolate their victim. That, however, is changing. Men who have accusers are now losing their job and do so publicly. 

In some conversations, Feminism is equivalent to the F-word. There can be negative connotations attached to the word Feminism. According to Mirriam Webster, the definition of feminism: 
"1.the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
2.: organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests"

Some view feminism in a negative light because they are uneducated on the issues women face. For example in 1974 the Equal Credit Opportunity Act was passed to prevent creditors from discriminating against women. Before this women couldn't get a credit card of their own.

"ECOA was passed at a time when discrimination against women applying for credit was common. For example, mortgage lenders often discounted a married woman’s income, especially if she was of childbearing age. Things weren’t much better for single women, either. Organizations that lobbied for the passage of ECOA also claimed that mortgage lenders were more likely to deny credit to single women relative to other applicants.

Congress originally passed ECOA in October of 1974. When it was enacted, ECOA prohibited lending discrimination based on sex or marital status.

Not long after the original law was passed, in March of 1976 Congress amended the law to further prohibit lending discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, the receipt of public assistance income, or exercising one’s rights under certain consumer protection laws." - Consumer Finance .gov

Another example of justice is it became illegal to rape your spouse (in all 50 states) starting in 1993. - Some states still vary on what is considered marital rape. - https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=201457 

Women have come a long way but there are more battles to fight. There are anti-discrimination laws for protection in the workplace however that doesn't mean discrimination no longer exists. As a woman, I have experienced this over the years. My experience included finding out an equally qualified male was doing the same job and getting paid more per hour than myself. One time I was being asked questions during an interview in a very roundabout way to see if I had kids or planned on having kids. How was having or not having kids relevant to my job?

What can I do to help change things today? I have two boys that I'm teaching the importance of equality through action and behavior modeling. I am helping to break the cycle. Breaking the cycle starts with each one of us. Change is happening, change is coming, change is for the better. Our nieces, granddaughters, daughters are counting on us. The responsibility of #MeToo weighs on all of us. 

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