No matter your political persuasion, the topic of the moment is men groping women and what’s been termed the “rape culture” of our society. Over the weekend, Canadian writer Kelly Oxford posted on Twitter that she had been groped by a strange man on a bus when she was just 12 years old. She encouraged other women to share their stories of sexual assault under the hashtag #notokay. She got a lot more than she bargained for. She began receiving posts from women at the rate of 50 per minute (minimum) over a period of 14 hours. Let the magnitude of that sink in for a moment.
Chances are, most women you know have been sexually molested at least once at some point in their lives. If you’re a woman of a certain age, you might not have known what to call it at the time, since it’s been only in recent years that terms like “sexual molestation,” “groping,” and “date rape” have become part of our daily lexicon. When we first heard the term “date rape” some years ago, a friend of mine told me that upon hearing its definition, she realized that she had been date raped on three separate occasions. There was never a name for it before. It’s like a kid today asking what a “rotary” phone is. If you didn’t grow up with it, you don’t know.
Here’s what I know – I was groped twice when I was a young girl. It was on the school bus as I was getting off at my stop. This older boy, whose entire family had a reputation for being “rough,” was sitting between me and the door of the bus. As I was walking toward the door, he leered at me with an evil sneer and reached out to grab me between my legs, in the front as I approached, and again in the back as I quickly walked away. I felt a flash of nausea and humiliation, and I was instantly even more intimidated by him than I was before.
Today, as an adult, I so wish I had whirled around and backhanded him hard across the face. But the sad truth is, had I done that, I would most likely have been the one to be reprimanded by the bus driver. In those days, that kind of behavior by boys (and men, unfortunately) was merely winked at and dismissed. So I never told anyone. Until now.
I am sharing this detail of my growing up years now because I believe it’s important for women to stand in solidarity and shine a bright light on this kind of degrading behavior by males who simply do not feel it’s a big deal. The picture I have in my mind is of flipping on the light in the kitchen and watching the roaches scatter back under the sink.
When the conversation turns salacious, as it has recently, those of us who have been groped, and worse, against our will, often experience the same sickening feeling of violation that we felt at the time it happened. We are triggered, as they say. I’m always happy when elections are over, but this year, more so than ever. If anything good has come of this year’s disgusting, embarrassing, and obscene presidential campaign, it’s that millions of sexual molestation survivors have come forward to expose the roaches.
Published by Kelly Z Conrad