Meghan Tschanz

love shines on

“Me too” and why sexual assault matters to all of us.

Earlier this week there was a campaign trending: me too.

It asked for women who had been sexually harassed or assaulted to write “me too” as a status. Slowly, Facebook feeds began to be covered in the words in hopes that people might get a sense of the magnitude of the problem.

I think a lot of people were shocked to see how many women responded. Young and old, of every race, religion and creed, Facebook feeds were filled with the two small and mighty words.

I hate to say that I was not surprised.

Every. single. woman. who I have intentionally asked about sexual assault or harassment has experienced one or the other, often both. Indeed, it was this knowledge and my own personal experience that led me to start this blog, to try and be a voice for women and to get others to care and do something about the pain and injustice so many women face.

“Me too” took me back to all the times I was sexually assaulted or objectified. The list is long but that is exactly why I should share it. At 13, a random man intentionally grabbed my chest when I was walking down the street. At 15, a boy of 13 who I thought was my friend started to feel me up in the back of his father’s truck. I prayed for the car to stop as his hands traced closer and closer to my crotch as I sat paralyzed in fear. Suddenly, miraculously, it did and I switched spots with my friend. At 16, some boy maliciously groped my bottom in a pool and disappeared before I could find him. During sophomore year biology class, there was a football player that would stare at my body and lick his lips at me. I couldn’t decide if it was a compliment or not. At 17, a truck full of young men followed me for about 10 minutes after I flipped them off for whistling at me. At 19, a man with binoculars watched me through my window as I laid in bed. At 20, a friend had a crush on me and I was not interested. One day while playing tackle football our lips brushed as he tackled me and he told everyone we had kissed, and then after that, he told people for weeks I was his girlfriend while I vehemently denied it, he wasn’t joking. At 21, a man wouldn’t take no for an answer when I told him I didn’t want to dance with him, he kept grabbing me until my friends intervened. At 22, an unknown man slapped my butt in a bar. When I worked at a bank a married man would tell me I was the sexiest teller there repeatedly, I began to run to the other room every time he came in. At 23, there was a married pastor who invited me to sit in his lap repeatedly, I politely declined. At 24, on the World Race, I had been grabbed, had my butt slapped, pulled into men’s laps, and cat-called more times than I could count. On a bus, one man pretended to be asleep and touched my chest on and off for an hour. I kept moving my arms in front of my chest and as soon as I would relax he would do it again. Another time a man grabbed my arm and I maneuvered out his grip and told him not to touch me. He mocked me by repeating what I said in sing-song voice inches from my face and grabbed me again. Another man masturbated to me while telling me to “come and eat” for an hour. I fought back, it had no effect, so I hid behind a wall. Another masturbated outside our window while I talked with a friend.

This list in no way conveys the shame, guilt, anger, and absolute terror I felt during those moments. It doesn’t cover the fear of my own sexuality and body parts that ensued afterward. It doesn’t include the prayers and processing and healing that took place in order for me to function again. 

Every woman I know is constantly at risk of sexual assault or harassment. And what does mainstream Christian culture have to say to this? What do they have to say to the women who are victims of abuse? They ask what we were wearing or what we were doing or what we were drinking. Because, we probably asked for it, and of course, this kind of thing didn’t happen to good girls.

But I was a good girl. I always had been. I had never fooled around with boys, and boyfriends never got below the waist, try as they might. I suppose I was lucky that they actually listened. By the time I was married I had only kissed four boys. When I was 19, I told God I didn’t want to kiss another man until it was my husband. I kept that promise and didn’t kiss another man for 8 years until my husband. We were both virgins when we married. I didn’t drink until I was 21 and then never had more than a drink or two, when I did drink. I followed all the “rules”, yet I was sexually assaulted. Being a “good girl” didn’t protect me. Even if I hadn’t been a “good girl”, if I had made every “bad decision” possible, it doesn’t justify sexual assault.

It turns out there is only one factor that makes me vulnerable to sexual assault, and it’s one I can’t control: I am a woman.

To better illustrate this point, Jackson Katz, an educator performed this experiment in his classroom:

“I draw a line down the middle of a chalkboard, sketching a male symbol on one side and a female symbol on the other. Then I ask just the men: What steps do you guys take, on a daily basis, to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted?

At first there is a kind of awkward silence as the men try to figure out if they’ve been asked a trick question. The silence gives way to a smattering of nervous laughter. Occasionally, a young a guy will raise his hand and say, ‘I stay out of prison.’ This is typically followed by another moment of laughter, before someone finally raises his hand and soberly states, ‘Nothing. I don’t think about it.’

Then I ask women the same question. What steps do you take on a daily basis to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? Women throughout the audience immediately start raising their hands. As the men sit in stunned silence, the women recount safety precautions they take as part of their daily routine.

Here are some of their answers: Hold my keys as a potential weapon. Look in the back seat of the car before getting in. Carry a cell phone. Don’t go jogging at night. Lock all the windows when I sleep, even on hot summer nights. Be careful not to drink too much. Don’t put my drink down and come back to it; make sure I see it being poured. Own a big dog. Carry Mace or pepper spray. Have an unlisted phone number. Have a man’s voice on my answering machine. Park in well-lit areas. Don’t use parking garages. Don’t get on elevators with only one man, or with a group of men. Vary my route home from work. Watch what I wear. Don’t use highway rest areas. Use a home alarm system. Don’t wear headphones when jogging. Avoid forests or wooded areas, even in the daytime. Don’t take a first-floor apartment. Go out in groups. Own a firearm. Meet men on first dates in public places. Make sure to have a car or cab fare. Don’t make eye contact with men on the street. Make assertive eye contact with men on the street.

Jackson Katz, The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help”

If you cannot see that this is a problem. You are not listening.

When President Trump was elected last year, I was devastated. Not because of his policies, though I disagreed with those too. I was devastated because a man who had bragged about sexual assault, and who regarded women according to their “beauty” and not their character, was elected to the highest office possible. As a result, it sent a message to the world that not only could you get away with sexual assault, but you could become a leader of the free world even when bragging about it.

It sickened me, it made me cry, and to comfort me a well-meaning Christian woman, who I care very much for, sent me an email. It essentially said, “God is in control,” implying that this election was his will. I explained that my dislike stemmed from a lot of reasons, but mainly about his blatant assault of women, his bragging about it, and his dismissal of it as locker room talk. I told her that I had been sexually assaulted too, and I couldn’t get behind a man who bragged about it.

To which she responded, “I, too, was disrespected by men before I became a Christian. This has gone on for generations in the secular world.” I read it several times to make sure I understood. Was she saying what I think she was? Was she implying that this only happened to non-Christians? Was she implying that I must not have been a Christian to have this happen to me? Was she telling me that it was my fault?

I cried: hot, angry, burning tears. I was enraged, yes, at her for not considering what she was saying, but more so at Christian culture. She was merely repeating what they had all been taught. I doubt she had little idea what her words held under the surface.

She was assuming that the reason I had been sexually assaulted was that I wasn’t a Christian at the time of the assault, because, of course, Christians are never sexually assaulted. It was as if she believed the only women who were sexually assaulted weren’t Christians. And that if you were, it was probably partly your fault for not being in the right culture. It was victim-blaming to the maximum and mainstream American Christian culture had been doing it for far too long with their viral modesty articles about yoga pants, one-piece swimsuits, and how women should be helping men not to lust. And I had had enough.

Guess who’s responsible for one’s thoughts and actions? That’s right you are. And if a man is having lustful thoughts about a woman it is HIS responsibility to deal with it. If he sexually harasses someone, if he assaults someone, if he rapes someone, it’s HIS responsibility. Stop asking questions about the victim, in the end, HE DID IT.

You know what articles I wish I saw go viral in Christian culture, articles that actually address the problem. Articles where men and women alike suggest ways that men can manage lust, what they can do to empower women, maybe even a few about them owning up about the times they may have objectified women. Maybe they could even say sorry.

Do you want to know why young people are leaving the church in droves? Because sometimes when we are brave enough to open up about our sexual assault, they ask us what we were wearing. Or, more commonly, when half the internet shares their stories about the times when they were harassed or assaulted, they say nothing. They get more angry about people kneeling to our flag protesting another injustice, than the fact that their daughters (and sometimes sons) are getting assaulted right and left.

They say their God is a God of compassion, that He is close to the broken-hearted, that He stands up to injustice. Yet, they remain silent on the injustice we tell them about, or worse, they tell us it doesn’t exist. That the women who share their stories are being dramatic, or that the men who kneel are lying, that white privilege is a myth.

“Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

Rape culture is alive. Racism exists. Sexism thrives.

And if you’re alive you can do something about it. If you’re not raising your voice and standing up to injustice, you’re allowing it to continue.

I’m not saying it has to be on social media, maybe it can be a conversation with close friends where you don’t feel judged, maybe it can be with your spouse, maybe with your children. But please, say something, talk about it, vote, do something to make this world better for all of us.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” ~Desmond Tutu

About Meghan Tschanz

I believe in love, empowerment. and adventure. The kind of love that believes in the face of adversity, the empowerment that allows people to step into their destiny, and the kind of adventure that leaves your heart pounding in your chest. I write because I want to remind us all that there is so much more to life.

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10 Replies

  1. Megan Briggs

    Thank you so much for writing, this Meghan. Telling someone “God is in control” when oppressors take power, when men silence women who dare to speak out against them, when children are abused, trafficked, or belittled, is nothing short of cowardly. I love the church, but we have to acknowledge we have a problem when we offer people who are suffering trite answers like “God is in control.” I don’t think this is the heart of God.

    1. Meghan Tschanz

      Thank you Megan. I love the church too, but we have some things we need to address. We need to get closer to God’s heart.

  2. Courtney

    I was harassed and assaulted multiple times on the mission field. Sexual assault happens to Christians, non Christians, men, women, and children. It’s pervasive in cultures around the world, and as believers, it’s time we address it. The church is suppose to be the hope of the world. It’s time for th church to step up and bring awareness, change, and hope to sexual assault victims and perpetrators! Thanks for sharing your powerful story!

    1. Meghan Tschanz

      thanks Courtney!

  3. Emily Diehl

    Thank you for writing this out Meghan. !

    1. Meghan Tschanz

      Thanks Em!

  4. Mike Tschanz

    While this is a serious problem, the widespread acceptance of porn just fuels the fire and the sin. Unfortunately the majority of men use porn, feeding their lust, rotting their hearts and minds.

    1. Meghan Tschanz

      100% agree! I hate porn and I hate what it does to men and women. Thanks for your thoughts!

  5. “Stop asking questions about the victim, in the end, HE DID IT.” Thank you, brave One. #metoo as a child. #metoo as an adult #metoobyChristianmen

    1. Meghan Tschanz

      thanks for coming alongside Allie! I think we are making a difference!