Last week tapes surfaced on the Washington Post of Presidential Candidate (!!!), Donald Trump, objectifying and discussing what can only be described as sexual assault and objectification of women. The tapes have caused outrage with some suggesting Trump should give up his Republican nomination. Kelly Oxford, a best selling Canadian author, shared her disgust with Trumps comments with her followers along with several tweets of her own sexual assault experiences.
The replies came pouring in and looking at Kelly's twitter feed, you can see that sexual assault against women is alive and well in the world. All of this prompted me to ask, have I ever been sexually assaulted? I said to my partner, "I don't think I've ever been sexually assaulted."
"Of course you have". He then reminded me of two separate occasions where I was sexually assaulted. HE HAD TO REMIND ME. Our culture is so blatantly accepting of casual sexual assault, so quick to forgive men because it's just 'boys being boys', so quick to victim blame, that I couldn't even remember my sexual assaults as being sexual assaults. I had to be reminded. And the longer I thought about them, the more I remember. So I'm sharing my stories. The ones I CAN remember. Not just about sexual assault, but also the ones that perpetuate rape culture and the double standard attitudes that I've experienced and observed.
1. I am walking home and pass a construction site. The workers are two stories above the sidewalk. They call out to each other and start commenting and yelling out to each other at the way my breasts look. They are looking down my shirt. They start to call out to me, one of them asking for my number. I always cross the street or take the longer route just to avoid construction sites now. #notokay
2. I am catcalled several times while walking along a main road. I am wearing sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt. #notokay
3. In highschool, I watched a mentally disabled girl be stalked by the 'popular kids'. She was ignoring them so one grabbed her arm, bent her back and kissed her as the rest laughed and cheered #notokay
4. I went to a Halloween themed birthday party one weekend. I wore a fairy/doll costume with a corset bodice and tutu. I was happy with my effort. Makeup was on point and hair was too. It was slightly too big for my body, but I decided to wear it anyway because I was excited to dress up and didn't have anything else. I told myself I wouldn't be drinking but was convinced by a friend that I should drink to loosen up and have fun. So I drank, and drank quickly. I don't remember anything much else of the night. I have glimpses of taking photos with friends, dancing, and laughing. I also remember throwing up into a toilet bowl and not knowing where my tutu had gone. The next morning I woke up with no clothes on. A group came into the room and pulled off the blanket, laughing and whooping at my naked body.
I showered, got dressed and went downstairs for breakfast. I was made fun of for being so 'messy' and 'loose' by one male 'friend'. Days later I was told that he had been groping my breasts while I threw up over the toilet. My friend yelled at him to stop touching me. He told her he was "helping me". Still to this day I don't remember him touching me. #notokay
5. I was walking to work one morning when a man started following me. I noticed him but wasn't sure what to do. He came up to my side and started asking me about myself. I was polite and answered his questions though not so much that I gave him too much information. I gave him one or two word answers. But felt rude not engaging more. Where do you work? How old are you? Where do you live? What are you doing after work? You are very beautiful. Can I have your number?
I asked him to give me his number so I could be the one to call him (I had no intentions of calling). He asked for my phone so he could put in his number and I gave it to him. He put it in and then called himself. He now had my phone number. I took my phone back and crossed the street. He continued following me. As a rounded a corner he started to hold my hand and then pushed my against a wall. He pushed his body against me and started kissing me. I didn't know what to do. He pulled away and I started to move away from him. I told him I had a boyfriend and was going to see him now. He said okay and continued to follow me.
I walked to the gym and asked to see my personal trainer. I pretended and he played along too, not knowing exactly what was going on. I said goodbye to the man and he finally left, turning back at me to wave and wink.
I thanked my PT. He offered to drive me home after work to which I said yes. He left to get his lunch and said to me, 'you owe me one'. I realized later that's why he offered to drive me home. #notokay
In my mind, I think, this is my fault. I shouldn't have been drunk. I shouldn't have drank so much. I should have worn a better fitting costume. Maybe I was asking for it? Maybe I was flirting with him? Maybe I was giving him the impression that I wanted to be kissed against the wall? Maybe I did owe him a 'favour'?
I was taught that it is my job to protect myself, to not put myself in a situation where a man can do something to me. Because if something happens, it's my fault. I shouldn't have been there, I shouldn't have done that. I should have worn something that made it hard for him to rape me. I should have said no.
In some uncomfortable way, it's true. I have put myself in situations where I was vulnerable. Where I wasn't able to consciously control myself. I was too busy not wanting to hurt someone's feelings therefore it's my fault for giving him the wrong idea. I feel yes, I should have SOME blame in SOME situations. But not all of it.
That Person/Man/Boy/Male put his hands on me without my permission. I was incapacitated. I was unable to communicate coherently. He wasn't drunk. He hadn't drunk. He was sober. He made he decision to touch an incapacitated, vulnerable person. He took advantage of my state and used it for his own desires. He is to blame for HIS decision. I am not to blame for his choices.
That Person/Man/Boy/Male pushed me against a wall and kissed me against my will. He pressed himself against me. He touched me without my permission. He is to blame for HIS decision. I am not to blame for his choices.
Those people/Men/Boys/Males on the construction site chose to shout out rude and demeaning comments to me. They chose to violate me and look down my shirt. I am not to blame for their behaviour.
That girl in high school didn't solicit that kiss. She was walking to class. She was at school trying to learn. She was violated. That kiss could have been her first and it was stolen from her.
I am saddened that my daughter will experience things like this. That she will come across men who choose to objectify her body no matter how she chooses to dress, speak and act. But as long as she knows it's not her fault. She is not to blame.
Published by Em Boyd