Posted by: CeCe | May 31, 2014

Yes, all women

This post has been going around in my head for a few days now, since the news out of Isla Vista broke last weekend, but truthfully I was too hurt and angry to even think about tackling it. Now I need to write this before I explode.

A few months ago, I wrote a post about how I had asked a question of my Facebook friends regarding whether or not they had ever been sexually harassed or assaulted. In the post I link above (go ahead and click it if you want, it’ll open in a new window or tab, depending on your settings), I focused on the men. This time, I’m focusing on the women. I’m not going to say how many women answered the post I reference. What I will say is that all but two answered yes. Just let that sink in for a moment. All but two answered yesAll but two answered yes.

I look at the world and what we women face, and I’m terrified, terrified, for my nieces, for my boyfriend’s adorable five year old daughters, for all the girls in my life who someday are going to have to face this, or worse, already have.

I think about how I began being sexually assaulted on a regular basis when I was the same age as my boyfriend’s daughters [edited, I realized that after I wrote it]. I think about how unsafe I felt on the bus because men nearly twice my age or older didn’t let the fact that I was only 16 stop them from hitting on me in the creepiest way possible. I had one guy put his hand on my leg like that was perfectly okay, and even when I pushed him away, he kept trying to put it further and further up my leg. And this was on public transit. And I was too terrified to yell at him, because first I had no idea how he would react (he was close enough to stab me and I didn’t know if he had a gun or not), and second, as women we’re often taught not to rock the boat, we’re supposed to be polite at all times. I remember a guy who told me he was fresh out of prison hitting on me in spite of my insistence that I wasn’t interested, and I was looking around wishing that someone would say something, but from the disapproving glances I received from some of the people on the bus, I think they thought I was leading him on somehow. Asking for it, obviously, just by merely existing. My fault for being a female in public.

I got to the point where I started to wear a ring set that was made to look like a wedding set, just to keep men from hitting on me. “I’m married!” And even that didn’t always work. “Oh yeah? What’s your husband’s name? How long have you been married? Are you happy? Do you want to have an affair?” Ugh, seriously?

I think about how street harassment is so normal that many of us have simply learned to try to ignore it. But it’s so hard, because sometimes just ignoring the creeps doesn’t work. Sometimes they decide it would be just hilarious to follow a woman at 9 o’clock at night, yelling things about her butt and what they’d like to do to her, until finally giving up after several blocks. I think about how responding is dangerous, but not responding doesn’t do any good either, because sometimes it just inflames them and makes them yell about how you’re some “stuck-up b****”. I think about how quickly a “nice guy” can become the type of guy that would call a woman all kinds of horrible names no matter how polite she is in turning him down. I think about the guy at a bar in Oklahoma who wouldn’t leave me alone, to the point where I had to beg a couple friends for intervention. While we were just having friendly conversation and he was sneaking me drinks (I was under 21), it was fine, and I was perfectly okay with a little bit of flirting but then later, when I went to use the bathroom, he grabbed my arm and demanded to know where I was going. I had a couple friends who were there help me create a distraction so I could escape without him seeing me when I came out. I hope he waited outside the bathroom all night.

Worst part? They weren’t surprised. They just accepted that yeah, I needed a distraction to get me away from this creep, and no, telling him that it’s not acceptable to put your hands on a woman without her consent would not have worked. It never works in situations like that. Men should know better, and most men do know better.

I think about how I know I’m not alone in these experiences. There are so, so many women who share them. The creepy guys at the bar. The ones who won’t take no for an answer. The boyfriends who tell lies. The perverts who hide amongst family and family friends and at church. The ones who abuse their positions of power. The rapists. The abusers. The list goes on and on and on.

And no, not all men are like this. We know that. But it’s so hard to know the difference, when even the men we trust hurt us. And it’s so hard not to be furious when everywhere I look, there’s someone talking about how women “owe” men this, or “owe” men that, or how sometimes women should be blamed for their own sexual assault, or how women who reject men rudely should be punched in the face.

Sigh.

I’m furious, yes, but I’m more terrified. I keep hoping that I can help instill the girls in my life with strength, independence, and the idea that they own their own body. I hope I can teach them that if they’re harassed or assaulted, it’s not because they did something wrong but because the world is wrong.

What’s the solution? I don’t know, but I do know we badly need one. Maybe the solution will begin to manifest if we keep having this conversation, if we drag it all into the light, if we continually talk about it and not allow ourselves to be shamed into silence.

So here, few people who may read this, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Ladies, please feel free to tell your stories here. Men, please listen to us and understand that we know it’s not all of you who do this. We know, and we appreciate that more than you’ll ever know. But we badly need you as allies. Just not being one of the evil ones is not enough. We need you to actively reach out to the women you know. But more importantly, we need you to teach your sons, your brothers, your friends, and your coworkers that this is not acceptable. We need to have this conversation, over and over and over again until something changes, and until the creeps can no longer hide in the shadows.

Thanks as always for reading, and feel free to hit that share button!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: