This was mostly something I did on Facebook, and will likely not post as a separate blog entry. But since there are 3 posts I wanted to put them in one place.
This is all regarding #metoo, and sexual harassment and assault.
The “me, too” thing is going around social media, and I think it has a certain power to it. I believe the notion is (correct me if I’m wrong) if you’ve been a victim of sexual harassment or sexual assault, you post “me, too” to show solidarity and the pervasiveness of the problem.
I feel uncomfortable saying something that could imply I’ve been the victim of sexual assault when I haven’t been.
I have, however, been sexually harassed and I have managed to get out of an attempted assault, and I will say “me, too” for that.
I have been lucky never to have been “successfully” assaulted, and I wish that the fact that I haven’t been wasn’t an indication of “lucky”, but it feels like I’m the exception, not the norm.
I have no idea honestly, because this solidarity statement makes no distinction between harassment and assault. For my own need to accurately tell my story and represent myself truthfully, I am open about what “me, too” means in my case.
So, for “me, too”, there’s been some male participation that I find really interesting. Between public declarations of their own experiences being sexually assaulted or harassed OR their own experiences learning they’d crossed boundaries or hurt others by their actions.
I’m only sharing public ones (I’ve noticed most of the ones admitting having been sexually assaulted are often Friends Only), but in the comments section of this post, I’m commenting with some of the ones I’ve seen. Some people have indicated in other threads that they haven’t seen anything but men mocking the hashtag, or men being mocked, but since I’ve seen some thoughtful ones, I wanted to share them somewhere.
You can find this post and the links here.
Okay, this might be my last post on the subject of #metoo. In the comments you’ll find links to my other 2 posts about it, and then I think it’ll just be discussions on comment threads, but I don’t need to dedicate my Timeline to this topic.
As I mentioned, I’ve been sexually harassed but not sexually assaulted. I’m very grateful for that fact.
There are many people out there concerned about the subjectivity of harassment. What constitutes harassment? Is it just some guy who asks you out or is checking you out? There’s concern out there by a mix of dudes who are either indignant that they could be implicated by their actions OR by guys who simply don’t know where the line is drawn and are concerned as to an objective definition so they can adjust their own behavior.
I am, as always, very sympathetic to the neuroatypical or the socially awkward in general who may actually be seeking points of reference and definitions to help guide them.
So I want to give a few examples —
Regarding what constitutes sexual harassment, I want to be clear that my definition does not include simply “looking at me” or even “leering”. However, inspired by a friend’s thread I wanted to articulate this further:
I will say I generally would never use “looking at me” as an indication of harassment. I have however, experienced men “staring” at me in ways that made me tremendously uncomfortable, and though I’m not sure they fall under the term harassment I’d really like some men to be aware of how uncomfortable this is, so they can recognize and hopefully modify this behavior, which sometimes escalates to harassment as I’ll discuss below.
Use of the word “you” below is referring to the perpetrator, not the reader:
- Continuously starting at my body while I’m talking to you and I’m attempting to make eye contact. It’s one thing to do a quick look, but like, there’s no reason to stare at any part of my anatomy (besides my face) continuously particularly WHILE I’m engaged in a conversation with you.
- Watching me from a distance (not like while I’m on stage or anything, but maybe like, I’m somewhere talking to my friends) and continuously moving to watch me from different angles and places. It’s one thing if like, you wanted to have a conversation with me and I’m busy with one friend or something, and you look over periodically to see if I am free, but I’ve definitely watched a guy literally circle me and never break visual contact. Amazingly, I do have peripheral vision.
- Licking your lips, very obviously, while listening to me speak. Like, a group of people all talking, conversation turns to something I know a lot about/someone asks a question, the group of 3-4 people are all looking at me for an answer and you’re literally starting at me (usually at my mouth not my eyes) and LICKING YOUR LIPS slowly and deliberately.
…these are just a couple things that have happened to me that I don’t call “harassment” but like, somebody’s gotta teach people how to better interact with women. Because those actions are really uncomfortable and are sometimes followed by inappropriate questions, sexually explicit requests or demands, and actually physically following me and not taking both hints and explicit “no”s.
I often prefer to help a socially awkward individual save face by gently hinting towards better behavior or an action, but sometimes I’ve had to very harshly call out someone in person, because they were so oblivious to the hint.
I’ve begun, when someone makes an inappropriate comment, to simply playfully reply “don’t make it weird”, and move on, and way too often some (typically libertarian) dude will actually go ahead and make it as weird as possible. To the extent of making sexual comments about me in front of my boyfriend while he’s trying to take a nice picture of me.
To provide an example of inappropriate commentary that has sometimes followed the “uncomfortable” staring listed above:
- I’ve had men tell me that they collect pictures of me, and based on what they see in these images they believe they know what I like sexually.
- I’ve had men describe without provocation what their sexual fantasies regarding me are.
- I’ve had an elected government representative (a Republican, not that it matters to me which it is) tell me he has sexual fantasies about me. And then ask me if I want to know what they are, and when I said no, he asked “please? I’d just like you to know in case any of them interest you” and when I repeated no, he said, “will you tell me some of your sexual fantasies?”
Frankly, those three example above? Pretty harass-y, yo.
Here’s another two.
I was cornered once, and the guy basically stopped short of assault mostly because I called him on it.
He was standing in my way in a doorway trying to prevent me from leaving so we could “have some fun” as he said.
After trying to get around him and telling him to get out of my way “I said no. my cab is on its way, I’m not staying”… He was all “come on cutie it’s okay, I just think we just lay down together for a bit and see what happens”…
I told him the only way he was gonna get his dick inside me was if he raped me, and I’d be kicking and screaming and scratching and whatever else I needed to do and that tomorrow when the cops showed up they’d know what happened even if he killed me.
He immediately backed off “whoa, I’m not a rapist” and I was like “if you don’t let me leave, you’re going to become one.”
And he let me go.
I met a cute boy. He invited me out after meeting me at work (he was a customer, I was a manager), and due to mutual scheduling issues back and forth, he ended up meeting me at my house to go to a party together. No red flags at first, no sparks either, just an okay guy – I gave him a very simple closed mouth kiss on the lips after, and I wasn’t sure if I’d see him again. He really liked me though, and knew where I worked, so he stopped by a couple times which my boss actually found kind of creepy, but I waved it off.
Invited me out another time and tried holding my hand – being very innocently affectionate, no groping or anything, just literal hand-holding and stuff, and I just wasn’t really into it, so afterwards we parted ways and he asked when he could see me again and I was like “you’re really sweet, but I don’t know that I want to see you anymore, not romantically at least, but we could still be friends”.
Then he started messaging me – MySpace messages, Livejournal comments, texts and calls. Reminding me he knew where I worked and where I lived. Telling me we needed to be together, and that I strung him along by holding his hand or accepting a second date, and that it’s because I secretly wanted to be with him and I was just unwilling to admit it. I told him to stop, he kept making sexual and violent comments about me, and saying crazy shit like “you’ll regret this when all you can see is blood.”
I told him I’d call the police if he messaged me again, and then I blocked him on all socials, etc.
Nobody owes you their stories of abuse or harassment. I’m just an exceptionally open person who is willing to share some of mine. Not because I want your sympathy. But because a bunch of people are talking about #metoo, and abuse and harassment and assault. And if you don’t know what it looks like, I am simply hoping I can help illuminate some of it for you.
I can only tell my stories. I can only try to amplify others’ stories.
But listening to each others’ stories is a way to understand. This world needs WAY more understanding of each other.