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Today, someone who works in my building (a stranger essentially), said to me, “you always look like a million bucks” as I walked by him in the hallway. While complaining about this to Tim (in what world does someone think that this is an acceptable thing to say to someone in the workplace?), he asked, how often does this sort of thing happen? And while he meant more innocent-type unwanted flirting, I just immediately began recalling all of the icky/ creepy/ scary attention I’ve received over the years.
I normally shy away from talking about difficult things. A lot of times, I’ll queue a reblog of something that I want to say something about, or I’ll save a draft of something, and then when I go back to it, it seems unimportant, or like the time has passed, or why bother. I’ve had this post in my drafts for a while.
By now, the furor has mostly died down from the Daniel Tosh fuckup, and, whatever, the world certainly does not need one more person weighing in on that. But one thing that happened as a result was that I paid attention to more women speaking out, not just about their experience with rape, but their experiences with casual sexual assault.
I was in Dupont Circle at 3:30 pm yesterday and was sexually assaulted while walking. In my hometown, in a nice neighborhood, in broad daylight, in public. I’m a city girl; I walk fast and have rules. A man pulled up behind me on his bicycle and reached up my skirt. He put his finger into my vagina through my underwear. He laughed and biked away. That was it. No 10-5, no catcall. No exchange. I didn’t see his face. At least when I was robbed at gunpoint, I knew who to look for on the street.
The number of things that a woman has to be aware of when she leaves her home or allows (if she’s lucky) someone into her home is mind-boggling. In high school sociology class, we did the exercise where the teacher asks the boys in the class what they do to feel safe when they walk down the street, and makes a list on the blackboard - usually it’s like 1 or 2 things. And then the teacher asks the girls, and the list goes on, and on, and on. We have to learn young.
I’m lucky to not have been raped. But I’ve had cars drive next to me when I’m walking the opposite direction, and drive in reverse so they stay alongside me. I’ve had a stranger in a bar stare at me for an extended amount of time, then forcibly grab my arm to try to make me stay when I made to leave. I’ve been outside a bar and have had a stranger come up to me and get thisclose to kissing me. I’ve had to always make sure to keep earbuds on hand when I walk down a city street, because I don’t want to hear it anymore. And on, and on, and on.
I don’t say anything because I don’t want it to seem like I’m full of myself, thinking that someone would XYZ.
I don’t say anything because it seems inconvenient, or annoying, or unnecessarily open.
I don’t say anything because I don’t want to seem like one of those reactionary people who lives their life in fear, forwarding emails on how not to get raped in a parking garage.
But these things happen. All the time. To women everywhere. I think I also get the doll-like fetishization/oversexualization of Asian women, which keeps unwanted innocent flirting from feeling so innocent. So I don’t want this to be just another post that I delete, because I think it’s important to share this stupid feeling. For some reason. I don’t know. I’m saying something.