We aren’t so far from April now which has been labeled as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. As many as 1 in 6 women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime, 1 in 33 men. I’m starting this now because April isn’t the only month to worry about, and maybe this post will gain some momentum by then. I didn’t start writing this list with such a goal in mind, but when I’d more or less finished with it I wanted to do something. I have known many, many people to experience various forms of sexual abuse and assault, but their stories are not mine to share. Just remember that the people you know help to make up these statistics. Keep this in mind when you see someone being taken advantage of, when you find yourself facing a similar situation, or when you are tempted to make a joke about rape or the fact that your ____test “totally raped” you, or when you laugh at these jokes on shows like Family Guy or in so many popular movies.
And remember that even the “small things” are part of the big picture in a culture where these kinds of crimes are so prominent, ranging from street harassment to violent assaults.
Feel free to pass on this message as you like, and to change the latter half with a “This is my list:”
Please include links to RAINN.ORG or similar resources.
These are the things I’ve experienced. No names are mentioned.
(Warning: This post is potentially triggering and many may not be comfortable reading it.)
- A boy in my seventh or eighth grade classroom talked to me explicitly about blow jobs (and a story with a girl in it who he’d obviously humiliated too if the story was true) while I tried to make him stop talking to me and kept turning away. He mocked me. Another girl and another boy, who made similar comments often, both encouraged him and laughed.
- A boy I walked with on the beach asked me repeatedly about my sexual experiences and how often I’d kissed anyone and let me know that he and his friend (who was walking with my friend) were in a sort of competition with each other, betting who would get kissed and so on. He kept trying to make me walk further away with him to leave my friend behind. He was annoyed I wouldn’t hold his hand. He showed me the pot leaf on his “cool” watch and told me about making out with various girls and how it was. He asked if my mother would approve, clearly amused. He kept asking if I would do anything even when I said no. He pointed to a bra laying on the beach and made and off remark. In fact, I documented most of this one in an old journal entry:
Then he’s trying to woo me on the beach or something, for the past hour or so he’s been mercilessly hounding me with questions and going “so are you afraid to let a guy kiss you” and I keep responding with things like. “No, I just dont kiss guys I’m not attracted to” or “I havent met anyone here worth it” and “i never said I hadnt, I just said that I’m picky” and so many other things and then I emphasized that I would never even go near him, but he just didnt get it. So then he’s trying to be all suave or subtle like and he goes :
“So if I tried to kiss you right now, you’d probably slap me or something right?”
He’s obviously hoping I’ll be like “Of course not” or “Why don’t we see”
And so I say “Possibly” and decide I’m going to kick the shit out of him if I get the chance because he’s really getting on my nerves now.
And he’s all like “damn, too much of that, you probably would.” and I want to scream “No I wouldnt, I’d punch you before I’d slap you, and then let you bleed to death on the beach and hope someone tore your kidneys out.”
(Actually at one point in the walk he’d stepped on a crab claw, I was kind of hoping infection would set in quickly and take him out.)
While I channeled much of my anger here, and probably my friends and I laughed about some of this story, I still remember how anxious I was the whole time.
- Some of the boys on my bus in high school made inappropriate comments to me. Others snapped rubber bands against me as I walked off the bus and grabbed for my butt. I’m still furious that I didn’t do anything about it, and that it’s a “normal” experience.
- When I broke up with a highschool boyfriend his “close friend” tormented me over AIM that summer, asking me if I had ever “been with a guy,” and calling me a “frigid lesbian” and a “c***.” He told me I would be alone and that no one would ever want to touch me. The meanest thing I ever said in response? That I just didn’t “feel that way” about the person, and that I didn’t like being harrassed. Do I still get mad when I see this guy, years later? Yeah. He verbally, sexually harassed me over a matter that was none of his business to begin with and found numerous ways to state that I was a worthless human being.
- The same summer I was sexually assaulted/molested/abused by a boy near my age who didn’t care if I said “No.” The way he talked to me and treated me were similarly horrible. What do I owe to him? A legacy of panic attacks, PTSD symptoms, and possibly my fibromyalgia.
- A guy in college talked to me and two friends, putting down the guy and trying to “impress” us two girls with his unwanted presence. After he verbally announced it was clear he wasn’t “going to get laid here,” he left.
- On the way to a club in D.C. several men yelled at me and my friends, most notably “How much for head?”
- On the dance floor a guy who I refused to dance with grinded against me anyway as I pushed and elbowed him. He tried to put his hands in my pockets and then tried to put them in the waistband of my jeans before I turned around again and he left. Another young man watched my friends and I dancing together, just standing there leering. When I stopped because I felt so uncomfortable he looked at me and said “Don’t stop, keep going” in one of the creepiest tones I’ve heard. A guy in another club grabbed my arm to pull me to dance with him even as I pulled away and told him no, I was unavailable. He tried to justify forgetting my boyfriend as he was married. I had to twist my arm around to get away. I can’t even begin to number the similar scenarios. I have been asked politely to dance without any accompanying grabbing ONCE.
- When visiting my boyfriend I sat inside his dorm room while his hallmates pounded on the door, cheering loudly, and shouting “Way to tap that.”
- Last year a group of boys in a truck honked and shouted at me, the driver revving the engine. I avoided looking back, but when they continued and I turned my head for a moment they added “YEAH, YOU!” Not so flattering.