Trigger Warning: This post discusses sexual harassment and sexual assault.
So #metoo is trending on Facebook and Twitter today. The thought behind #metoo is that “if all the people who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” I think it’s important that it says “people” and not women. I didn’t write #metoo on my Facebook page, but I’ve been sexually harassed. In fact, I’m not sure there’s a woman on this earth who hasn’t been.
I’m lucky. I’ve never been raped. I’ve never been assaulted. I put myself in some precarious situations as a teenager so I count myself lucky. I had one incident happen to me as a child. My sister’s friend, a girl, used to take me into the closet and dry hump me. She was two years older than me. And I hated her with all my might. I also felt endlessly guilty about this situation. But I never told my parents…until last year. Was that molestation? Assault? We were fully clothed, and while she was older than me she was still a child. I don’t know. I have mixed feelings about it. But I do know, whenever that particular friend would come over I’d get upset. So it affected me, and it’s something I still think about today.
I had another experience in college. My Junior Year, I took an Environmental Science class. I sat next to this guy, pretend his name was Bob, and I thought he was kinda cute. I was also pining over not-my-boyfriend at the time, but I thought Bob might be boyfriend material. Boy was I wrong. Bob became insistent that we study together. Okay, I thought. We met at Mary Graydon Center and studied for a bit. After awhile, Bob asked if we could go to my house. I said sure. I should have been weary, but I’d never really been distrustful of a guy before. I guess I surrounded myself with guys who never gave me a reason to mistrust then. Perhaps I was naive. Bob came over, and we went up to my room. And he immediately started kissing me, full on making out, and then put his hand under my shirt. He was pushy and insistent, and I said no. I pushed his hand out from under my shirt. He didn’t rape me. I told him to get out, and he said, “Oh, come on.” I told him that I didn’t just have sex with random guys that I saved that for relationships. He was pissed. Literally pissed and angry, but I eventually got him to leave. During the time he was in my room to the time he left, I was scared of him. And things could have ended differently. Bob never came back to that class. I think it was after drop too, so I’m pretty sure he failed. He was embarrassed by his behavior, as he should have been. No woman should ever have to feel that way about a guy. A lot of girls are not as lucky as I was in that situation.
Here’s the thing: we need to teach our boys to respect women. We need to tell them that a woman’s body is her own, and it’s not public property for them to touch. We need to tell them that no woman is going to respond to you in a positive way if you are catcalling her. We need to teach them that forcing a woman is wrong. We need to teach them that a relationship takes two people and that in order for women to be okay with having sex it has to be mutual. We need to teach our boys that assaulting is never okay. That if they see someone harassing our assaulting a girl they need to speak up. Don’t be complicit.
We need to empower our girls. We need to let them know that their voice matters. We need to let them know it is their right to say “no” even in a committed relationship. We need them to know that being forced is NEVER OKAY. We need to tell them that they have a voice, and they should use that voice to tell the men in their life how they feel. They need to tell men when they want to be touched and when they don’t want to be touched. They need to speak up when they’re assaulted. We need to help them not to justify a man’s behavior when he’s in the wrong. A lot of us do this. I know I am guilty of it.
I used to have a friend when I lived in Maryland. I was young…25…and had a boy baby. She got pregnant for the second time and found out it was a girl, and she was horrified. I said to her, “I’ve always wanted a girl. They’re a mom’s best friend!” And she said, “But girls get raped and assaulted.” I thought, at the time, it was the strangest thing for her to say. But you know what, it’s true. Girls get assaulted. Girls get harassed. And people sweep it under the rug. Or worse, they blame the victim. I want to scream every time I hear, “But she was wearing.” Who gives a fuck what she was wearing? No one deserves to be raped. Our girls deserve better. And it’s time to make a change for our next generation. It’s time for women to speak up and say it’s not okay for them to be treated that way. We are not second class citizens. We have rights, and Our bodies are OUR bodies not anyone else’s.
It’s time for things to change.
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