Content warning: Discussion of sexual assault, sexual harassment.
This post in response to the “me too” movement to post the phrase online to show how many people are victims of sexual harassment and assault, in hopes of raising awareness to the problem and (I guess) inspiring change at the personal level.
To all others with “me too” experiences: I love you. I see you. I’m sorry.
There is help out there if you need it: 800.656.HOPE (4673)
I didn’t want to do a “me too” post because I don’t think it’s going to change anything. It’s solidarity at best. I’m not optimistic to believe that sharing this will spurn any conversations or wake anyone up.
I can’t write about all of my experiences yet. None of them feel legitimate enough, I’ve been told that it could have been much worse or there’s nothing that can be done. But there are a couple that are a perfect example, as far as what I’ve experienced myself, in how this problem is normalized.
These are only my personal experiences and I will not attempt to co-opt or comment on the experiences of other women that I know and love. Those are not my stories to tell.
I’ve also deleted a few stories that would be too easy to identify the offenders. I don’t know if those people would even know that they have caused me any damage and I’m not sure they would care.
I’m 21 years old. I’m working at a restaurant.
We close for the night, I change into a “party dress” as I’m going from work to a birthday party.
I’m informed weeks later, by a romantic partner who also is a coworker, that my shift manager pulled him into the manager’s office to watch security tapes of me walking through the restaurant in my dress.
My partner thought it was funny or at least flattering.
I was mortified. I still worked there and had for months, with the same manager.
When I told him that it was upsetting, he said I should take it as a compliment.
I felt unsafe and disrespected.
But in the end I dropped the subject, because I was too immature and insecure to press my partner on why he didn’t tell the manager to stop or tell him why I didn’t have to take it as a compliment.
The sad part of this experience was that at least then I knew that I couldn’t trust that manager and that I was being recorded at work.
I’m 22 years old. I’m working at a different restaurant.
A regular patron asks me a sexually explicit question in front of a table of 8 people that I have been serving brunch to for a couple of hours.
They are drunk. I am working.
The others at the table all laugh nervously at his question, even the two girls who try to shush him and tell him to leave me alone.
I go to the back of the house and have a panic attack.
My (sweet, amazing, wonderful) manager kicks him and his friends out. They get banned from the restaurant.
That is my one experience with prompt and equitable justice for sexual harassment.
I’m 24 years old. I’m living in Tallahassee.
I find out, through a friend, that there is an anonymous online forum where men are trying to barter for sexually explicit pictures of Tallahassee women they know and want to see naked.
There are explicit comments about my appearance and why people want these photos of me.
I have a panic attack.
I still don’t know who these men are. I could know them. They could be reading this. They think we don’t know about it. We do.
I asked all the men I had dated in Tallahassee that I still had contact with if they had been approached by anyone asking for explicit pictures of me or my friends, or if they knew about this forum. I sent screenshots for proof.
They all said no, claimed to know nothing.
A couple of them offered to do some research on shutting the forum down. Eventually, it just disappeared or went quiet. Nothing happened to these men and I don’t know if any of them were ever identified.
I still don’t know who I can trust about that. I still want to ask people point blank about why this happened. Why this happens. Didn’t anyone see how wrong that was?
There is the question floating around of why don’t the people (in my experiences, all have been straight men and one bisexual female) who cross these boundaries and perpetuate this abusive culture out themselves as part of the problem instead of the onus being on the victims to out themselves?
That makes me feel more guilt and shame because I’ve never told any of these people how much they have damaged me. In the cases of abuse, many of these men have considered it my fault that I made them angry, broke up with them or dared to have a physical form they considered attractive.
In other cases, like the online forum or the security videos, they don’t think we know. They don’t think that anyone is going to rat them out. They sure as hell don’t think they are going to get in trouble for any of it.
I want to say fuck being polite, fuck being respectful of these men’s current relationships, I want to say so many things. But I’m still scared and I don’t want to have to deal with it.
I’m tired and I’m hurting, we are tired and we are hurting and god damn it. That’s just so much.
I don’t have an answer. I don’t want to have to fix this. I don’t want to have to teach someone how they scarred me.
Just leave us alone.
We are so tired.