- I have been catcalled, whistled, and honked at — not just by older men, but by boys as young as 10.
- I’ve had a man repeatedly come into my workplace to flirt with me, who followed me with his car and talked to me on the street, and who got my e-mail address from my work’s website and e-mailed me. During none of this did I “encourage” him. (When I complained about this to a male friend, he actually said I should have been “nicer” to the man because “it takes a lot of courage” to express interest in a woman!!)
- In high school, one of my male classmates said that his goal that year was to get me drunk. He was later suspended/expelled for grabbing a girl under her skirt.
- I’ve been leered at in at least five languages.
- I’ve been followed when walking in a public park. Now I walk with a walking stick, not just because I have rheumatoid arthritis.
- I’ve been cornered in my residence hall’s laundry room by a man who “loves America and Americans” and wouldn’t let me leave until I told him which room I lived in. (I lied.)
- I have stayed late in my shared office when a female colleague was having a student conference with a male student that had made inappropriate comments to her, “just in case.”
- Years later, I still feel uncomfortable eating ice cream in a cone after a man made a lewd comment about what else I could do with my mouth.
And more. Almost every woman I know has these stories and worse. This is #notokay. #YesAllWomen have these experiences. To be told that “you must have done something to get their attention” or that you are “overreacting” dismisses the validity of these experiences. To have Trump’s comments be glossed over as “locker room talk” and that “every man talks like that” does not make that speech or that behavior acceptable. Instead, it reinforces the victim-blaming rape culture in our society and trivializes how this kind of speech and behavior strips women of their humanity.
I am reminded of this (paraphrased) quote from Margaret Atwood:
“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”
Why else was I taught to carry keys in my fist to use as a weapon? Why else was I taught to park my car under streetlights and to check beneath the car before getting too close? Why else was I taught to always be hyperaware of my surroundings, noting where the men were and reading their body language? I was TAUGHT these things. This is the information passed from woman to woman to keep ourselves safe.
When will enough be enough?