If you are unaware, the hashtag #yesallwomen is trending worldwide at the moment on Twitter, the catalyst having been the Santa Barbara shootings that resulted in the death of six people at the hands of a man who felt that women deserved to die for his lack of sexual gratification. If you haven’t read the posts, do it now. As for me, I’m going to tell you why I contributed to it.
- When I was 11 years old I stood with my back against the wall during recess and lunch at school because the teachers wouldn’t stop the boys in class from snapping my bra and it made me uncomfortable. I couldn’t stop them from doing it while I sat in my desk, however, so I had to just deal with it.
- From age 11 to 13 I had the same teacher for math. He always made me uncomfortable. My friend told me that he made her sister very uncomfortable too, and that he always asked about her sister which made her uncomfortable. My feelings were shuffled off as not liking a teacher because of my grades. After leaving the 8th grade, I found that he was a pedophile and was abusing a girl in the 7th grade class.
- When I was 13 years old and riding the bus, a very average, non threatening looking 40 year old man started leering at me. He then got on the floor of the moving bus and began to do pushups while “sweet talking” me in a language I didn’t understand. Being terrified, and not knowing what to do, I decided not to get off the bus at my stop. I had no way of defending myself if he followed me and I was alone. A young man, perhaps 18, in full make-up with glowing blue hair asked him, “Are you talking to her?”. When the man emphatically nodded his head to indicate he was, and wanted this young man’s help in “wooing” me, the blue haired boy literally kicked his ass off the bus and screamed “she is just a child!” then told me that I could sit with his group until I felt safe to get off the bus. I sat with him until I arrived back at my home stop and I learned the valuable lesson to not “judge a book by it’s cover” that day.
- I was 14 when a strange man sat down at the table across from mine and my parents in the local McDonalds. He wasn’t eating anything and he turned his chair to stare at me. It made me uncomfortable, and my father said to ignore him. My mother said it was time to go and we packed up our uneaten food and left.
- At 16 years old I was allowed to drive myself to and from school. It was a long drive, and I relished it. One day a man paced my car for the entirety of the drive, cat calling me and yelling at me to pull over. I was terrified since he knew where I went to school, and if I didn’t think of something he might know where I lived. I took my 8th grade graduation ring from my parents off my middle finger, put it on my ring finger and mimed “Sorry, engaged” to the man. He stopped pursuing me; not because I said no, I had said no for about 10 miles, but because he respected another man more than he respected me.
- While standing in line in the grocery store at the age of 17 a man pinched my butt. I spun around and slapped him, hard. His girlfriend then slapped him and ran out of the store crying. For some reason, I felt we both, her and I, had been violated.
- When I was 18 years old I invited some friends over for a get together at my parents home. One brought I boy I hadn’t met before and he made one of my girlfriends really uncomfortable, probably because he had been told he could “have her” by the guy she had just broken up with. I told the guy friend to take the boy home and he never did forgive me for “cock blocking” and for making him “be the asshole”. He made his friend wait at the end of my driveway for a ride, and he spent the rest of the night impressing on me how rude I was for not giving that guy “the chance to score”.
- At a friends apartment at 19 years old, I was followed into the bathroom by a very large man whom I didn’t know. He had me backed against the wall and was clearly going to do whatever he wanted to me when the owner of the apartment’s girlfriend noticed I was missing and had him kick the bathroom door in.
- When my female roommate moved out of our shared one bedroom apartment, I moved a friend in who had always assured everyone he was “only into men”. I found out two weeks into his living there that he was, at least, interested in this female when I woke up and he was trying to have sex with me.
- At 20 years old a 45 year old man followed me into the bathroom of an ice cream shop. No one noticed my absence. I had to spend about ten minutes in the bathroom with this man while he “offered” to show me all my erogenous zones and how to use them. I smiled and said maybe some time and he patted my butt as I left the bathroom. I cried in the car as I drove home because I felt like I had led him on.
- That same year I worked as the grave yard shift waitress for Denny’s. I learned to deal with butt grabbing, drunk men who only gave their order if I sat in their lap (and I did), and one drunk boy who came in the restaurant and yelled about my “great tits” to the patrons. If I didn’t learn to suck it up, I wasn’t going to get tipped and since the only other person working was the cook, an older man who didn’t speak, I was afraid to start trouble by objecting. I sucked it up.
- When I was 21 I spent a long night consoling a friend who had been brutally raped by her boyfriend while his friends listened from the living room. One took her out for donuts afterward.
- That same year another friend told me she had been raped at a party. She had only one drink. Her rapist drugged her. I was the only person she told because she was ashamed and scared. She worries about sharing that she had anything to drink because people won’t believe her.
- At 24, my husband and I were called at 2:00AM to help our friend move from her apartment. Her best friend’s husband tried to rape her while his wife was in the living room. She was too scared of ruining his marriage to scream for help.
- When I had my children I was shamed by women for nursing in public because breasts turn men on. While discussing this on a women’s debate board, a man told me that I could, should, and would be raped for expressing an opinion opposite his. He then told me I would like it because all women have rape fantasies.
I am an average woman; a stay-at-home mother with two girls. I am just like millions of women all over this world. These are my experiences. All women have these stories and that is why #yesallwomen is trending.
Ironically, if you ever asked me if anything had ever “happened” to me, I would say no, because I have been fortunate enough to console those who were raped and not to have been one. Ask the women in your lives if they have a story, then listen.