We all know what this means by now. It’s on all media, my facebook wall is covered, my twitter feed, my instagram, the newspapers and on the news. But this is not news, we all knew it, we’ve just grown a little numb to it. And who wouldn’t? When you’ve felt harassed, assaulted, exploited and/or violated your entire life?
And this I am absolutely certain of, ALL WOMEN have felt or will feel this way at one point in her lifetime, if not more.
Going to twitter to share my story, what stumped me the most wasn’t the amount of women that had joined in, and the men too, by all means, this is not exclusive to women! No, what stumped me was that I didn’t know which story to tell. I didn’t know which story counted. Is it sexual assault if you haven’t been raped? Haven’t been touched? Where does the line go?
Was it the older boy who snuck into the girls locker room when I was 10 and saw me naked and then ran around the whole school telling everybody about my naked body and instructing them to call me “naked” as a nickname? When I cried to adults they only said that the boy had a crush on me. Is that what we want to teach young girls that love is about?
Maybe the boyfriend I had at 14 that talked me into having sex with him, after I said time and time again that I didn’t want to. Psychological coercion that wears you down over time, does that count? If you agreed to it then, but really didn’t want to, is it just your own fault then? If it’s someone you know and love, isn’t it kinda worse then?
Maybe the guy at the club when I was 21 who just came up to me on the dance floor and grabbed me in between the legs. Maybe he counts?
Or the neighbor I had at 26 that pushed me up the side of the wall and told me I looked like I needed a dick in me and force kissed me in doorway and wouldn’t let me enter my own house? How about him?
How about when I was 28 and the guy that jumped me in my car and tried to force himself on me over and over again, begging and pleading for me to “come on, don’t be like that” while I kept saying no before I kicked him out of the car and drove off? How about that guy?
Or my boss commenting on my boobs, but said that I couldn’t claim sexual harassment because he had already resigned anyway.
Or all the guys who’s called me “a fucking tease” if I rejected them, or called me a “frigid bitch” if I dared to say no. Or the ones saying “just take it as a compliment” or “that doesn’t count, don’t take it that way” Do they not count?
I think we know now that we are not alone. I think we know now that it can happen to anyone. I think we know now that it can happen anywhere, at anytime no matter what you’re wearing or what you know.
And since we know that now, that we have the power of the majority, maybe we should exercise that power the next time we encounter a bad situation. Say no. Stand up. Be loud. Be brave. Call them out. However you choose to do it, don’t let it pass without warning that the behavior is inappropriate and unacceptable. Report!
And this has to be the mantra, the thing we know to say to every victim of every single situation large or small: It is never your fault. And: It. All. Counts.