This is showing up on my facebook feed today:
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.
It occurred to me that while nothing incredibly traumatic like rape has ever happened to me, I nonetheless have a list of sexually harassing experiences that I have tried to forget or in weaker (younger, inexperienced) moments, rationalized or minimized.
In no particular order,
- The creepy old guy that worked at the shoe store in Ottawa with me, who constantly made inappropriate comments about my body and my appearance. I never reported it, but dreaded and feared every moment that we worked alone together.
- My male ‘stalker’ in Ottawa, who was a customer at the shoe store. I was being nice to him because I was selling him shoes, he misunderstood and thought I was flirting with him. He tried to ‘visit’ me at the store a number of times, but I always managed to hide in the stockroom until he left. Thank god he never found out where I lived.
- The guy at university who plied me and my girlfriends with drinks all night and was incensed when I wouldn’t let him ‘take me home’. Found out later (from one of his own friends) that this was his MO for date-rape.
- The guy at work who said ‘no offense, but are your boobs getting bigger?’
- The manager at a place I worked that sells Chicago-style deep dish pizza who would ask me about my weekend plans with my boyfriend by saying inappropriate things like ‘ooooh are you going to do the nasty?’ I heard he got fired for sexual harassment a few months later, so obviously someone was more proactive than I was.
- The man who exposed himself to me while I was about twelve and walking home from school. I turned away quickly and didn’t see much, but I was too afraid to tell anybody. We had been decorating Easter eggs with beeswax designs that day in school and to this day the scent of beeswax elicits a faint memory – I’ve all but suppressed it otherwise.
- All the high school dude-bros who barked like dogs when I passed them in the hallway.
- Two guys at a sandwich place who openly leered at my cleavage while I ate my sandwich.
- Any guy who ever asked if ‘the carpets match the drapes’.
- All the places I haven’t been able to go to on my own after dark for fear of assault or rape.
And this is just a short list, of a fortunate woman who:
- is in a long term relationship with a respectful partner
- has lots of wonderful male friends who always have her back on nights out
- was raised with a take-no-shit attitude
- has never doubted her access to equal rights
- has worked (for the most part) in places with excellent HR departments
- has never been desperate for money, food or shelter
How much longer would my list have been without any of those things?