The last few days I have watched some of the various stories that are surfacing in Hollywood about the sexual harassment and abuse that has gone on and has been kept silent and tied to shame for far too long. Then I started to think of my own experiences in life and was hit with an overwhelming sadness. I can’t even count the number of times that I have experienced what by definition is harassment or abuse. Some certainly more severe than others, but none are really truly excusable.
As a way to vent those emotions, I grabbed a pen and paper and wrote down the below. At the time I threw it away because I had written it solely for my own eyes and a way to get my emotions out. This morning I dug it out of the recycle bin and decided that I would post it:
Forcing yourself onto someone is never acceptable, regardless of how you justify it.
I’ve heard a gamut of excuses from “I can’t resist you”, “if you didn’t want it, you wouldn’t look like that”, or “this is the only way I know how to show you what you mean to me”.
I myself am guilty of making excuses for those people. I’ve bought into the excuses even though my gut says otherwise. We make excuses to make ourselves feel better even though we know this isn’t true.
Guys who expect sexual favours in exchange for their time, nude photos to avoid conflict or being cheated on and then we end up desiring some kind of positive reinforcement even for our dirty deeds. Our esteems are skewed, tied to it in a sense and we seek that validation from these men and begin to lose sight of what we stand for.
We cannot expect a global movement unless we as collective individuals are willing to say that this is not ok. Often times when we say no to someone they will either press us for what they want, take it for themselves or move on to the next one who he very well will repeat those actions towards.
I am sure that I am not alone in saying that I’ve given into the harassment in hope that I would be saving someone else from having to experience it. I justified things in my mind time after time.
Sometimes I’ve worked up courage to tell someone: a friend, their partner, HR… I’ve received a variety of reactions but the most frequent has been that I wasn’t clear enough that it was unwanted. Why do we need to jump up and down screaming that something isn’t ok before it’s clear enough? Simply walking away, saying no, not reciprocating or making eye contact should be an indication to back the fuck off and to leave me alone.
We need to demand this level of respect for ourselves on all accounts. We need to feel safe in our own skin.
An invitation to go for a walk is not an invitation to grab my ass or attempt to get me in the bushes for a romp. A walk is a walk.
Also, just because I might have been into something one day doesn’t mean that everyday for the indefinite future I will be a willing participant. I have every right to say no at any point as I do to say yes to whomever I want.
I do not have the right to push myself onto someone else either. Mutual respect is so much sexier than that rock in your gut that tells you that something isn’t right.
If you are ever asking yourself if you are actually wanting to partake, please walk away or stop what you are doing. That question is doubt. Doubt often leads to regret and trust me when I say that you do not need anymore regret in your life, especially with something so intimate.
Trust your gut when something doesn’t feel right. Reach out for help if you need it. Surround yourself with people who haven’t even made you question yourself, your value or your right to choose.
There is no level of alcohol, drug or commitment that ever makes it ok.
The thumbnail for this post is from BBC.com