The last time was just a few weeks ago. It was the night after our rugby game and I went to our bar for a quick drink before picking Gabi up from work. I was sober when I arrived, but it appeared that others weren’t, including one member of the men’s team who bumped into me. Some of us were looking at pictures from our game and we noticed that some of our nipples were hard. When you wear jerseys as tight as ours, it’s hard to miss in still, high quality photos. We giggled. Then the dude, a friend, reached over and poked my nipple. *boop* And I swatted his hand away. He told me it was cool, I could grab his cock if I wanted. I declined.
Before Trump’s video broke, I would’ve said, “It’s harmless; he’s gay.” But I can’t feel like that right now. And I should mention that this isn’t the first gay man to grab my boobs. There are many straight men in that category, too.
This happened a few years ago at a dance club here in Columbia. I was out having a good time with my friends. We were drinking and dancing, like humans do. Some guy started dancing with our group. I danced a little sexy with him. Why not? I was there to have a good time. But in the middle of all the dancing, and it happened so quickly I had no time to process it, he reached over and pulled a Trump. Though, it wasn’t necessarily a grab, but a slow swipe. It was awful. And violating. But what was worse was the look in his face when he did it. A fucking creepy, sly smile. Like not only was he proud of himself, but he was certain that I wanted it. I did not. Not even a little bit.
Chicago. 2014. Rugby weekend. I was with Gabi and we’d been dating just a few months. Some guy walks by our group and grabs my ass.
I can’t believe it wasn’t until last week that I realized all of the times I’ve been sexually harassed and assaulted. Maybe my problem was a lot of our problems: feeling embarrassed to say anything, thinking that no one believes what we’ve said, thinking that they can’t understand how horrifying and violating it is, thinking they’ll just tell us to relax, that we’re over-reacting.
I’m 36 and I just realized I’ve been the victim of sexual assault several times in my life. It took this long because I’ve been taught to understand that it’s “just one of those things.”
I’m 14 and my boyfriend insists on making out with me through “The Fugitive.” I’ve asked him not to. I’m told that it’s what people do. And I should like it. And don’t I love him?
Though I honestly can’t remember if this is the first time, I do remember it vividly. I remember it because I was old enough to almost understand. I was 13. And he was my boyfriend. It was on the bus, on our way to a track meet. He was a track star in our tiny school. He could climb the rope in gym, upside down. We sat in those green plasticy leather seats. He put his hand on my leg, my knee. That I enjoyed. Or, at least, didn’t mind. But his buddies were in the seat in front of us. They turned around and peered over. And there were only guys behind us, too. I was trapped against the window. His hand kept moving down and closer. I asked him to stop. I told him to stop. But those guys in the seat ahead were watching and he had something to prove. And they kept saying, “C’mon, he’s your boyfriend!” And I kept saying no, politely. I didn’t want to be uncool. I also didn’t want his hands anywhere near me. But he did. I mean, my pants were on and everything, so I wasn’t sure if it counted for something I should tell someone. He just kept his hand there for a moment and wiggled a finger. I felt like puking. I broke up with him not long after that.
I’m telling you this because maybe you don’t realize it. Maybe, correct me if I’m wrong, ladies, but this happens to all of us. I’m curious to know just how many numbers we all have. Women are groped and fondled our entire lives. We are pulled into the laps of our uncles and made to kiss our dad’s friends on the cheek when we’re younger. We are expected to be handled by strangers on the street, in bars, at work. We are made to feel shame for not liking it or for telling anyone. We are told we’re over-reacting when we try to explain the violation.
I’m writing this for all of those guys who’ve done this. I’m writing this for those who haven’t.
Most importantly, I’m writing this for all of the women and men who’ve been the victims of these assaults. And I finally feel comfortable defining them that way. But, my hundreds of times are small compared to those stories I’ve heard from other women. Rape is a hard word to say, so most don’t. But I feel like we all know a few people who’ve been a victim.
After Trump’s video @kellyoxford asked women to tweet their first sexual assaults to her at #notokay. She reports getting two per second.
Though 100 might be an exaggeration of my own numbers, I know that once can feel like a million. I’m curious to know your numbers, too.
Maybe, as women, we prefer to be silent because we are taught to be. We are told to be.
I hope you vote loudly this year.