#MeToo and not once, or twice or even three times but so many times I almost can’t keep track. That’s not an exaggeration.
The incidents have ranged from serious, to those I’ve brushed off as “not so bad”. I am genuinely disappointed in myself for some of the things I’ve brushed off as “not so bad”.
I am just one woman. This is my experience of sexual assault and harassment. I am 31 years old. Not even half way thorough my life and #ThisIsMyList:
• I have had to quit a job before because my boss would lock the restaurant each night and then proceed to aggressively hit on me, openly talking about how much he wanted to f**k me (in fact his descriptions were much more lewd than that). I stayed in that job for a week until I started fearing for my safety because his advances were getting more persistent and always took place in a locked room to which he had the only key.
• I have had a male friend repeatedly try to grab my body even though I told him not to.
• I have had men ask for my number, me say no and them continue to ask. They’ve then told me they won’t leave until I give it to them and said “but don’t give me a fake number because I’m going to call it now to check”.
• I have been told to wear a shorter skirt and stand near the window while working as a waitress in a restaurant to entice people in to have dinner there.
• I have had a man follow me home. This has happened twice. One of those men interacted with me and continued to harass me the entire of my walk home. He probably thought he was just hitting on a women. I was scared. The other ended the walk by making the below gesture to me through my glass door after I managed to slam it and lock it behind me without him getting in. I sat and cried afterward.
• I have had a male coworker say that he bets I “eat sausage” in response to me saying that I don’t eat meat.
• I have had a man in a bar pull my skirt up to expose my bum to him and everyone else.
• I have had sex with a man because I ran out of ways to say no and just gave in.
• I have been catcalled, A LOT.
• I have had my boss, when I was 17 years old, repeatedly try to hit on me (he was almost 20 years my senior).
• I have had a guy remove a condom during sex without consent (this has actually happened twice even though I expressly stated that no sex would be taking place without a condom but apparently they “just wanted to feel it”).
• I have had a guy cut holes in our condoms to get me pregnant against my wishes.
• I have been raped.
This list may seem too long to be real to some. You may be thinking there’s no way all of this happened to one person or that I clearly make bad choices in the men I interact with if I have been subjected to all of this. That is not the case.
A disturbing number of these acts were carried out by “good men”. Men I considered friends before these events took place. Men who were friends with other friends of mine too. Men who I thought were allies in the feminist fight but yet it turns out clearly do not respect women.
All of this is so common among my peers that it currently appears to be an unavoidable part of being a woman that at least something like this will happen at some point.
Among my friends I have those who have been orally raped, date raped, sexually abused by a family member and touched multiple times without their permission.
This should not be part and parcel of the experience of being a woman*. It should not be normal for me to have a list like the above.
My male friends are posting that they’re surprised about the number of women posting #MeToo. I’m not. That was exactly the point. It’s happened to almost every woman I know at some point.
If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet. pic.twitter.com/k2oeCiUf9n
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) October 15, 2017
Women are not sex objects there purely for another’s gratification.
Men are asking what they can do. There is no one piece of advice I, or anyone else, can give that will instantly stop this happening but here’s three tips to start with:
- Always look for enthusiastic consent to whatever is taking place.
- If there is a chance your intentions could be misconstrued, state them so you’re both going into the situation with the same expectations. For example if you’re asking a colleague out for lunch and perceive that lunch to be a date, not a business meeting, tell your colleague. Most people will probably respect you for the honesty.
- Call out any instances of sexual harassment and abuse you see, no matter how minor they may appear to be.
Help stop others’ lists increasing.
*I am aware that sexual assault and harassment takes place towards men too and that men are also not always the perpetrators of sexual assault and harassment. I do not hate men. In fact I really quite like them. Statically however these acts take place more against women by men.