I’ve Been Sexually Harassed — No One Listened and Now I Won’t Shut Up
Last Tuesday was not a wake up call for me; it was a tragic re-affirmation of what I feared would happen. I feared some people wouldn’t vote. I feared some people wouldn’t be outraged by president-elect Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric towards all kinds of people. I feared that some would be so over the Obama administration they’d vote Trump just to shake things up. I feared people would vote Trump for religious reasons, which will never make any sense to me how Trump is morally more palatable than Hillary Clinton.
After we cried together in my CycleHouse class, and Clinton conceded, I was just sad. I was sad everyone was exactly who I thought they were. I love to be proven wrong when the outcome is one that makes no sense.
In the week that followed, I talked to friends who were upset that half of Americans value themselves over the whole, friends who were scared that their rights would be stripped, and friends who were confused about why other people even had these feelings.
I was paralyzed. A childhood friend who I haven’t talked to in years reached out and reminded me that words have power, and by some stroke of luck, I get to write words for a living. I still didn’t have my thoughts together though.
Then I realized something: I don’t always need to have my thoughts together. I just need to have facts that inform the situation, and present those in a simple way. And even if I do this, some people still won’t understand, and that’s okay. I’ve done my best, and I will continue to do that.
Which brings me to what happened this weekend:
I talked with a family member who voted for Trump, simply because it was a vote against Hillary, and explained that I couldn’t vote for someone who felt like he could do anything he wanted to my body. Of course, that idea is quickly glossed over by people who are angry. So, I stopped him and went into detail about the times I’ve been sexually harassed (which I have never made public in this way, but now is the time):
In high school, our basketball coach used to rub up against me as the team walked into the locker room singing Olivia Newton John’s “Let’s Get Physical.” He’d join our scrimmages and when we boxed him out said things like, “That’s the way I like it.” I told my mom, who now says she vaguely remembers me telling her, but can’t remember why they did nothing. Other kids told their parents. Still, nothing happened. At 16 years old, I learned that people don’t always listen when you tell them important things.
In college, my boss grabbed my boobs and made a joke in front of a room full of men who laughed. I was complete stunned and didn’t want to lose the job, so I kept going on with my day. I’d learned five years earlier that sometimes not even parents listen when you say something happened, and he’s my boss, so why would anyone listen now?
In my adult life, I was on a date with a man who happened to be black. He was pulled over and handcuffed. I politely asked why that was necessary. The officer said because my date was 6’4” and larger than the man who pulled him over, so he needed to be restrained… for an unsafe lane change. The officer then asked to see my ID. I wasn’t sure why but I handed it to him. He responded with, “Oh, you live up the street. Now I can come by and see you whenever I want,” and winked. I never felt safe when a police car drove down my street again until I moved.
Talking to my relative, I reiterated that THIS is why I can not vote for a man who believes and proliferates an ideology that he can do whatever he wants to my body. Because sometimes “locker room talk” eeks its way into the real world. This relative responded with, “Right, but what I’m saying is…” proving once again that sometimes it doesn’t matter if you tell people what happened.
So, that’s why I made myself start writing again. Sometimes people don’t listen, which means we have to continue telling them over and over and over again.
Here is my pledge to you:
I may not always write the most introspective and intriguing things, but from now on I promise to be a better journalist. Even if it’s a group of sources about who will be running our government and why that’s important. I will strive to be non-partisan, but I will not tolerate discrimination against anyone. I will do my best to be timely so we can take action before it’s too late.
And most importantly, I will always remain open to conversations about our differences and why we believe certain things. I will listen to your story and think about how I can help make your life better. This is not about me, this is about us and how we become more informed, more empathetic, and more responsible together