I was 17 the first time I was sexually assaulted. I didn't know that's what it was at the time. I also didn't realize this would be the first time. Of many.
I was working my first real job at a pizza place and was the only female employee. We changed into our uniforms at work. I frequently dealt with my shift manager "jokingly" offering to help me get dressed or joining me to change. Brushing up against me because the space was just "so small". He would call me Tootsie and mention better shifts if I wanted to kiss him.
He was in his 30's.
I was 17.
The first time I was catcalled I was 12. I was walking home from school and a man driving in his car slowed down to tell me that my "legs look good in that little skirt you're wearing". That I should be careful wearing that type of outfit around older boys.
While I was an executive at Macy's I had several male employees make vulgar or sexually driven comments to me. Comments such as:
"You're prime meat for a man in his early 40's. He'd be all over you"
"I bet you're the type of girl who would want big mirrors in the bedroom huh?"
"That shade of lipstick you're wearing is very sexy"
" You're a very attractive woman. If I wasn't married I'd date you in a heartbeat"
I was an executive. I was smart, young, driven. I was successful and yet my worth was still boiled down by men to my appearance.
Lets not even get started at the things I've experienced with male patients at the hospital.
- telling me I look pretty good in my scrubs
- telling me to lean over a little further when I'm drawing their blood so they can see a little more
- a patient looking me dead in the eyes while he masturbates. I was taking his blood pressure.
I get asked about my dating life a lot. When I say I'm not dating or am turned off by dating I get asked why. I'll let everyone know right now why. You meet a guy. They're not like regular guys they always say. They're good guys. They are respectful.
And then after a couple dates you get texts like
"So do you shave your pussy?"
"Trust me, you'd want me to go down on you"
When you tell them you're not interested or you don't appreciate being talked to that way the response is
"I knew you were just a stuck up bitch"
"You're not that hot. You should feel lucky I'd offer"
"Just another Mormon prude huh? I thought you were chill"
I've told these stories before and have been told by men and women that I should be flattered. Flattered. Sexual comments and advances that are not reciprocated or asked for is assault. There is nothing flattering about assault. And what's even crazier to me is that instances like this are considered normal. Even if the comments aren't necessarily vulgar or sexually driven it is still universally accepted that women exist for the pleasure of men. That if we aren't grateful for their attention or their advances, we are just stuck up bitches.
These are just a few of my personal stories. I have many more and I know many of my friends and families have them as well. And these are just stories of sexual assault....not even rape. More of my female friends have been raped than not. I have struggled to express why I am so passionate about this topic. Why I have been so vocal about my disgust with Donald Trump. My absolute horror that anyone could still support him and respect him as a human being let alone as President of the United States. The fact that Donald Trump would play off his vulgar and disgraceful remarks as "locker room talk" and that they are "just words" and people ACCEPT that is the PROBLEM. When someone says it's normal and ok for a man to talk about a woman's body as something they have a right to.....that is rape culture. Rape culture is real. If you need further proof...look at the hashtag #notokay on Twitter. Millions of women have spoken out about their own sexual assaults. Kelly Oxford, the woman who started the hashtag, said that if you saw these tweets as a ticker on a news station you would think there was a war on women. Because there is. It is not made up. It is real. It is a problem. And it has to change. Boys need to be taught women are to be respected. Girls need to be taught that it is ok if you are not flattered by male advances.
This was not meant to be a political statement. Obviously this has been a huge topic because of a political figure and his comments however it is much much bigger than that. I encourage you to take these things into consideration. I would encourage you to speak out against sexual assault. Read through the hashtag on Twitter, read my friend Shaina's brave and personal account.
Let's change this. Let's start by not perpetuating this false belief that this is normal talk for men. It is not. It is not ok. Women deserve better and hell...men deserve better than this reputation that they are all some testosterone crazed sex animals.
We are humans and we all deserve respect as such.