All the ways I’ve not been raped
Being online feels like one giant trigger warning these days. Racial atrocities, natural disasters, terrible politicians, and guys with too many guns keep killing strangers. There’s always a new way to be sad about the world if you are paying attention. The latest of topics-that-make-it-hard-to-get-stuff-done is sexual assault. I’ve not been raped, but I’ve been sexually assaulted and attempts have been made. Most women (shout out to transgender, non-binary folk and men who have been abused — you’re in this too) have been living the ‘is someone going to rape me today’ existence this whole time and we shouldn’t have to feel lucky that it hasn’t happened yet, or not again.
While there have always been gross men being inappropriate towards young girls, I believe it was grade three or four when I started noticing. There was a substitute teacher ‘patting’ the girls bums during softball at gym. I told my mom and she had him removed. I don’t recall anything about charges.
When I was twelve through fourteen years old, my oldest brothers’ friends who were five to seven years older than me would regularly sexually harass me. Commenting on my appearance, offering to get rid of my pesky virginity, and explaining all the things they’d love to do me while I was on my period. They stopped because he moved out. He brought me to a house party with his friends when I turned sixteen and he made his girl friends go to the washroom with me because he couldn’t and didn’t trust the guys. This was all considered normal and LOL, boys will be boys, amirite? When I saw these guys years later as an adult, I was still very shaken. After I called them all out on their past behaviours in front of their current girlfriends, it was their turn to be shaken.
I was fifteen when I was waiting for the bus at night and a man sat too closely next to me and started whispering that he doesn’t rape girls. I got up and moved away from him over towards another man who was in a business suit. Business Man asked me if I was okay, and asked if I was a runaway (I had a back pack on). I said no and that I was fine. He said he had a house for girls like me and that you didn’t have to do anything the first night. I muttered that I had to call my mom, and ran to a pay phone. She told me to wait for her at the police station that was a few blocks away.
The videography internship I did at the school board media centre during high school was run by two men who would comment on the physical appearance of the high school girls in the videos and wonder about their skills in bed. They never harassed me directly, but I always felt I had to defend the girls in the video and remind them they had daughters the same age. I’m always very uncomfortable when they sexualize young actresses in the media.
I was seventeen when my ass was grabbed by Jian Ghomeshi at an autograph signing for Moxy Fruvous. I was wearing ripped jeans, and he asked me if I wanted a hug. I was thrilled and then during the hug, he put his hand through a rip in my jeans and grabbed a bit more than just my butt. He told me and my fourteen year old sister to visit him backstage at the concert. We did not. I was very shaken learning about all of his victims.
I have been ‘roofied’ three times. One time, I saw the guy spike my drink at a club, told the bouncer and he was ejected. Next time I was at a New Year’s Eve club party that my friends had put on and someone put a pill in my complimentary champagne. My friends noticed I was acting strangely and brought me home. I felt everyone was my enemy and escaped from their house. A friend walked behind me until I made it home. The third time, I was at a bar waiting for a friend and a group of guys asked if they could share my booth. I didn’t notice them spike my drink. They tried to force me out of the bar with them, but I got to the bartender, gave him my friends address and he called me a taxi then waited with me. I cannot go out and drink in a public group without keeping my hand over the top of my beverage now.
In university I had just moved into my apartment and my room mates were a few days out from moving in. I got into the elevator of the building and two men came in right afterwards. I picked my floor, then they picked one higher up. They were making me feel uneasy with how they looked at me, so I rushed to my door. Then they got out of the elevator and one guy said, “Quick, get her.” I got into my apartment and locked the door. They banged on the door demanding to be let in. I didn’t have a phone installed yet and was thinking about jumping to a balcony next to mine if they got in. They eventually left. After I told my brothers about the incident, they came over, practiced how to fight with me and gave me pepper spray. I now never push my button first.
One night in the rain at the same apartment, a man chased me home from the bus. I got into the security entrance and hid with the security guard. The man who chased me came into the building and used his key card. The security guard offered to call the police but said they wouldn’t likely do anything so I didn’t have him call.
A year later I was going to the bank machine at night to get laundry money while my boyfriend guarded the clothes. A man asked me for directions, and I explained where he needed to go. Then he followed me on a bike, trying to hit me against the buildings with it. He kept saying that he loved me and that I should go with him. I asked people in the bank area to walk with me but no one would. I asked a convenience store owner for help and he pushed me out of the store saying he didn’t want any trouble. I had to run into traffic to get away from him.
I was a temp receptionist at Xerox for a few weeks. Three of the repair men who worked there would regularly proposition me. One kept trying to get me to go into the supply closet with him. I reminded them that with the switch board system, their wives went through me when they called the office. I told my supervisor and she found me a new placement. Nothing was ever said to them.
A boss I had at an online comic would regularly pontificate on the sexual abilities of women walking past on the side walk below his window. He would loudly banter with the sales guys about all the things he’d do to them while I was taking notes in meetings. I made lunch dates for him and his wife. He had two daughters. I told the CEO about it and after my vacation I came back to learn my job was given to the temp and I was moved to a different department with a woman manager. He was never disciplined.
This is all peppered with a lifetime of creative and not-so-creative cat calling. My favourites have been when I have my son with me. Plus all the unwanted advances, and general space taking some men seems to thrive on. Not to mention all the fun of guys online.
So if you’re a guy who is getting stressed out from all the #metoo happening right now, imagine living a whole life of this. I’ve not even included all the incidences because it would take too much day to read. The fact is, even though I shouldn’t have to feel lucky for not being full on raped (now I have to knock on wood), I do. Forever women have been teaching each other how to avoid terrible men, take self defence classes, don’t walk there, don’t wear that… Now it’s on men. Call other guys on their behaviour. Come down hard on guys making rape or other similar jokes. Tell your cat calling friend he’s a dick. Teach boys about consent and consequences. Also, law officials, it wouldn’t hurt if you convicted a few rapists ever. It’s exhausting to live it and then re-tell it. We’d all love if the only #metoo story we had was about eating brunch. So get on it, I need a mimosa about now.