Me Too

“He keeps pulling my hair in class, I tell him to stop but he won’t”

“You turn around and yell as loud as you can so the teacher hears you “DO NOT PULL MY HAIR. I TOLD YOU TO STOP. SO STOP”

I had this conversation with my mother in third grade. I never told him to stop because I was afraid the teacher would get mad at me for being disruptive in class. The boy eventually started pulling another girl’s hair.

I have never forgotten this.
I think about this every time a man grabs at me on the street. 
Or sends me a dick pic at work when I say “do not send me a dick pic right now, I’m at work”.
I think about this when I say “I just want to go home alone tonight” and they think I’m playing hard to get. 
When a man unzips his pants in the bar, on the subway, in the park and I say “We are in public right now!” and he says “So? No one is watching”, which never makes me feel better. 
I think about this when I have had to put my hand in front of my vagina and say “A penis is not going inside of me without a condom on”
And the couple times I have had to throw a boy off of me screaming “BECAUSE I DO NOT WANT YOUR CHILDREN!”.

Yelling as loud as I can doesn’t always work. Sometimes it does. But sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes my voice isn’t loud enough.

Sometimes I need help. Sometimes no one is listening.

I am thankful my parents tried to instill in me from a young age that my safety and comfort is more important than being convenient for others. It’s a lesson I’m trying to relearn as an adult, when the stakes are higher than pulling hair. Because after hearing so many times that it’s my own fault, I’m lucky enough to have people in my life that say “it’s wrong that he did that to you”.

Recently something happened that depleted the energy which used to fuel my promiscuous pursuits. And I say “promiscuous” because we all know how much I love to kiss people, so I own up to the fact that I am a promiscuous women. 
However, the game is no longer fun to play when one team has written over the word CONSENT with a new definition that is so grossly warped, I can’t bring myself to step foot on the field.

I can’t get by with just a helmet and some shoulder pads anymore, I need a set of armor.

Today I have watched people come to the realization that they are living in a different reality than their friends. 
Tell me, what it’s like to go to a bar and not have to inevitably hide at some point? Tell me, what it’s like to not keep a hand on your phone in case someone texts SOS? Has Uber ever saved your life? Are you afraid of walking home at night? 
Have you ever said “help me” and no one listened?

Start noticing how fast some of your friends are to call you an Uber when your phone is dead. Notice how many of them say “text me when you’re home”. Notice how your friends hear a guy is acting suspicious at the bar, so they quickly spread the word like a game of telephone. One is elected to find the bouncer, while another guards the pack making sure no one is singled out. Notice that this isn’t courtesy, this is a survival technique.

If you can’t help me because it’s too late or because you feel as powerless as I do…. Please, Listen.

Listen when someone tells their story. Listen when someone tells you they’re scared. Listen when someone tells you no. Listen when we ask for help and you can do something about it, even if it’s just make sure that we got home safe and alone. A simple text will do.

The boy eventually started pulling another girl’s hair. 
I wonder what he’s doing now.

By: Sarah Shear