Sexual harassment has been talked about a lot this past year. I’ve talked about it a lot this past year. And I know there are still plenty of people who think the daily sexual harassment women are “claiming” is exaggerated, over reacted, and is still be dangerously downplayed. There are even people who still claim that it’s not sexual harassment, just compliments, and we should be flattered. And I’m here to tell you that that could not be farther from the truth.
So let me take you through what can happen in just 48 hours walking this world as a woman:
-I went to the grocery store on my break. On the walk back, a man jogged up to catch up to me. This is not a man I know. By all initial appearances he looked like a normal man, not a homeless man or drugged out or drunk man, just a normal man in typical Seattle casual ensemble. When he catches up with me he says to me, “Hey can I get your number, we should hang out”. I simply said, “No thank you” and changed my course so I was now walking away from him rather than with him. He starts shouting after me, “Whatever Bitch thanks for nothing”. This was roughly 11AM on a weekday.
-There are lots of construction workers striking in Seattle right now. And there are lots of construction workers picketing outside our building. Meaning I have to walk right through them to get into work. As I am walking into work one of the picketers, “Hey you look nice today let’s talk for a bit”. I smile uncomfortably as I continue on my way into my job. “That’s rude, you know that! Bitch!”. This was about 9:30AM on a weekday.
-I went running on Saturday. A man got in my way so I could not walk past him and started waving his hand wanting me to take my headphones out to talk to him. I do so, while keeping my distance, maybe he just wants directions. “How long can you run for?” A very disturbing question, why are you going to chase me now? “Have a good day” I say as I put my headphones back in and continue on my way. “Come on, just talk to me for a bit!” I continued running. This was about 4:30PM on a weekend.
-I went running again during the week. A bus stopped and many people got off, as they do. Most of these people were considerate enough to make room for me to run past them without trouble. One man in particular, a very tech-bro Amazon/Microsoft looking man, decided to purposefully get in my way, moving back into my way as I tried to navigate around him. I finally had to stop where I was because it was obvious he was not planning on letting me pass. I was visibly not amused. He laughed and told me he was “just kidding around”, tapped me on the arm, and finally let me pass. This was about 6:30PM on a weekday.
Over the course of 48 hours I was harassed by four different men, none of whom seemed homeless or intoxicated. These were normal, regular men, who felt entitled to my time, and my company, and my space. In almost all instances, my choice to politely keep to my self and go about my business invoked anger.
And all things considered, I actually consider myself lucky. I don’t have to deal with harassment in the work place. In past jobs that has not always been the case. So I only deal with this harassment when I am walking out and about. And yet, in 48 hour I was still harassed by four different men.
In none of these instances did I feel flattered, I felt uncomfortable and unsafe. My guard instantly went up as soon as these men started interacting with me, because I knew they wanted something from me. They weren’t asking for directions or help (though I was asked for directions during this 48 hours as well, and it was a perfectly pleasant exchange where I was neither harassed nor felt unsafe), they wanted something from me that I wasn’t willing to give. These men all felt entitled to me. And that is in no way flattering or complimentary.
These aren’t isolated instances, this is a typical day in the life. These aren’t a small ratio of men giving the rest a bad rep. These aren’t crazies and drunks. These are normal men harassing normal women on a daily basis. And every time I go outside I put my guard up. Because every time I go outside some man decides to bother me.