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#MeToo has Oklahoma roots

Chelsea Copeland / Red Dirt Report
Broken Arrow, Okla. resident Kelly Lisenbee.
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COWETA, Okla. -- “Me too."

If you were sexually assaulted and/or sexually harassed, post "Me too" or #MeToo as your status. You can copy and paste this if you like. This way we can demonstrate the tsunami of abused women, make it visible.”

You may have seen this floating around your social networks. You may be shocked, hurt and outraged when you find out who in your life has posted such a thing and just as shocked and outraged at the amount of people who have. You may be shocked that this person or these people didn’t tell you, people you were close with; hurt that they went through this and did so alone; and outraged that such a thing has happened and on such a large scale.

This hashtag #MeToo grew to viral status this month after numerous allegations of sexual misconduct on film producer Harvey Weinstein’s part. The phrase ‘me too’ was created by activist Tarana Burke in the MySpace days. It has since been popularized by actress Alyssa Milano when she Tweeted the phrase above.

Since then, numerous celebrities, politicians, scientists and civilians alike have reposted, retweeted, and reblogged the phrase and hashtag such as Lady Gaga, James Van Der Beek, Lupita Nyong’o, Barry Crimmins, Javier Muñoz and Senator Mazie Hirono.

Broken Arrow native, Kelly Lisenbee is one of those people embracing the #MeToo message, hoping to encourage others to come forward and know they are not alone.

“When I was 15, I had never kissed a boy. My first kiss happened outside of Fort Gibson High School and it wasn't my choice.” Lisenbee wrote on her Facebookpage. “I was at an athletic event and one of the athletes asked me to go outside with him. I didn't know he was going to forcibly kiss me. I didn't know he was going to put his hand in my jeans. I didn't know he was going to ask me to perform oral sex on him. I didn't know that after I pushed him away and told him no that he was going to tell all his buddies that it happened anyway. He told me we should tell people it happened and I said no to that as well but it didn't matter.

"In the hallway at school next week, he winked at me and stuck his tongue out. I flipped him the bird and hoped no one saw me. I was already a food addict with a mild weight problem. Was I thicker than most girls? Yeah. I'm guessing the athlete thought I would have low enough self-esteem to do whatever he wanted. I'll never know because I had never talked to him before that day and we never spoke after. Subconsciously, I wonder if this added to my weight problem. Maybe I thought...’If you're fat, boys will leave you alone. So just eat and you'll have a shield.’ When people say, ‘weight loss surgery is the easy way’, it infuriates me for many reasons but this is a big one...I wasn't just choosing to lose weight, I was choosing to lose my shield, too. Don't judge people for where you think they are. People have addictions for a lot of reasons. None of them have to be justified to anyone else. The only reason you should speak to anyone about their addiction is to help them. If you need to talk, I'm available. #metoo

Lisenbee would like others to know that looks do not always play into sexual assaults or rapes. It’s about the abuse of power. Understanding the whys of rape and assault is a muddy minefield. Motives vary from one case to another. Opportunity and ease have been noted University of Minnesota at Duluth as the strongest motivational factors. Weinstein is an example of abusing power for his sexual advantage. Many of his alleged victims feared the consequences that he could bring down on him, as such losing their jobs.

You’re may be wondering why these people didn’t come forward sooner, since DNA evidence is invaluable in a rape case and quickly deteriorates. It’s not that simple.
According to the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault there are numerous factors that play into not reporting an assault or rape. Victims fear the reprisal of their perpetrator either on them or their family. They may fear of the shame and blame will be placed on them (“What were you wearing?” “Were you drunk?”); our society tends to excuse men for their behavior using the ‘boys will be boys’ excuse and in it, sex is a taboo topic filled with shame even in a consensual
setting.
According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network) out of 1000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will walk free. How discouraging. It’s easy to see how victims simply try to move past the trauma rather than go to the police. Also, according to the University of Minnesota at Duluth has found that a vast majority of rapes are planned and the opportunity for it is an
enticing factor for committing the crime.
I befriended Kelly on Facebook and I see a bubbly and infectious smile. I first asked her how she was coping with her assault.
 
“I would say I'm doing well. My life isn't perfect. Ups and downs, same as everyone else. It's not like I posted about my assault and out of nowhere all my problems went away but I did put a serious demon to rest.”
 
I asked her what drove her to post the hashtag.
 
“I have been posting about weight loss journey. I've been very transparent about it and the story behind the hashtag, for me, had a lot to do with my weight problem and how I dealt with the trauma. So, it seemed natural for me to share it.”
 
If you have been a victim of sexual assault or rape, you can call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to talk to a trained sexual assault counselor in your area. It is free and confidential.

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About the Author

Chelsea Copeland

Chelsea Copeland is a native Oklahoman, born in Tulsa and raised in Coweta. She graduated from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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