This isn’t the kind of thing I usually post. This isn’t what lifestyle blogs usually consist of. But it’s real, and it’s important, and it’s raw. And 75% of my audience is female, which means at least 75% can relate to this.
For those who don’t know, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein revelations, the hashtag and movement of “Me too” has spread on social media, where women are sharing their stories of sexual harassment and assault. This is mine.
TW for gross comments by men and a lot of swearing.
Me too. Of course. All of us, too.
Everyone I know has a story. Chances are, even if you think you don’t, you do.
I didn’t want to share this. I wrote it all out and was embarrassed by what I saw, by who would read it if I posted it here.
But then I thought – why should I be embarrassed? These men should be embarrassed. They should be ashamed of themselves. I’m proud to say that, of the ones I knew, none of them are on my friend list anymore. But I hope they’re reading these stories from hundreds of thousands of women and feeling a sick, prickling sense of shame.
I also hope they get mauled by rabid dogs, just a little, because I’m not above that.
So, without further ado, here’s a brief and largely incomplete history of horrible things men have said to me:
- “I wouldn’t let my daughter out of the house looking as grown up as you.” I was 13. He was 65. This was mostly directed at my chest.
- “You would look so sexy in nothing but black lace.”
“You have a girlfriend.”
“Yeah but she’s not here right now.”
“Well maybe I should tell her.”
This stopped him for about a week. It was a pattern of conversation that continued for about 8 months. And if you want to know why I continued to talk to him, it was because he was a close friend of mine at the time and I didn’t want to believe he was being so disgusting.
- “What do you mean you haven’t had sex? You’re way too pretty. Well how far have you gone then? I could show you some things.” Another friend of mine, also with a girlfriend.
- “Hey baby girl, give me a smile.”
“Well damn, fuck you then bitch.”
- “Hey baby I know I’m 60 but I could treat you right.”
- “Hey cutie. You’re so beautiful. Why didn’t you follow me back? Fuck you bitch.”
- “Do those fangs come off if you’re sucking too hard? Wouldn’t want you to swallow them.” Halloween. Why must they desecrate my favorite holiday like this?
- “We can just cuddle. Don’t tell my girlfriend I was here.” 3/3 man why was I a magnet for this? 19 & 20 were weird years for me.
- Not to mention all the jeers, stares, whistles, catcalls, “accidentally” brushing up against me in dark bars, staring at me like freshly packaged meat when I’m just trying to dance with my friends, the list goes on and on and on and on.
All of this (and plenty more) for daring to exist inside a female body and refusing to be ashamed of it.
In my life I have been lucky. This is what it looks like to be lucky. None of these men were too violent or got too angry or succeeded in getting me alone. I have a good support system, good friends who look out for me, and I’m not afraid to tell people to fuck off.
Too many other women I know (and don’t know) have not been this “lucky.” 1 in 4 college-aged women are sexually assaulted. 1 in 4. This is a widespread issue. It is not a “women’s” issue. It is not something to be swept under the rug. It is the direct result of a society that still degrades and belittles women, that places too much importance on violent, repressive masculinity.
Every single little girl learns how to say no, learns not to leave her drink unattended, learns to go everywhere in pairs, learns how to aim the pepper spray, learns how not to go out after dark, but if you do, hold your keys in your hand like a fist and keep your finger on the 911 button.
This society blames and degrades victims and survivors by what they were wearing and what they were drinking and who they were with, but the onus should not be on women (or any survivors) to protect or defend themselves.
This is an issue that stems from toxic masculinity, first and foremost. Men believing and being conditioned that they’re entitled to whatever they want, whenever they want, including women’s bodies.
If you have sons, teach them boundaries. Teach them that they are not entitled to ANYTHING from ANY woman. Teach them to stand up and say something if their friends are acting shitty.
The only way we’re going to end this is if we do it together. And a big part of that is to stop making excuses for the men in our lives. Stop being complicit in your own destruction. Being “one of the boys” or being a “cool girl” who laughs it off when their guy friends say gross things will not grant you any favors from them.
Now for a disclaimer: I know there are incredible men in the world. I have had the great fortune of knowing and loving some truly amazing men. That’s not what this story is about right now, so don’t even bother coming in here with the #NotAllMen stuff.
We need change. We need some sort of revolution. Excusing this stuff in our media, in our government, in our homes, it has to stop. There is never any excuse. Men, be better allies. Stand up to your friends. Don’t excuse locker room talk.
Listen to women’s stories. We all have them. Learn and do better.