I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and eventually decided to write it down. I wanted to say #metoo, and yet I didn’t feel legitimate enough. Some of you have been through so much more, why should I complain? I haven’t been beaten up, I haven’t been raped. Some part of me does not feel legitimate enough, and yet I also realised that some things that happened to me shouldn’t have happened, and shouldn’t be deemed normal.
One day, it was summer, maybe five years ago, and it was hot like hell, I was wearing a t-shirt and a skirt – and why should it matter? – just walking home from the train station, minding my own business, and as I passed some random guy, I heard him mutter “prostitute”. For no reason. I didn’t look at him, didn’t talk to him, I was wearing my headphones, and yet after all these years I can still hear him saying this. I cannot unhear this simple word. It was ridiculous and unjustified. And this guy should not have said them.
So me too, I have been harassed.
Me too, I had random guys catcall me in the street, and even in my own dorm last year, once, when I was in my kitchen, in my pyjamas, minding my own business while baking cookies for my friends.
Me too, I had strangers touch me inappropriately in the commute, just because they felt that if it was too crowded, it would go unnoticed, it was permitted.
When I was in the ninth grade, I was bullied by this guy sitting in front of me in class (we had assigned seats). No one really knew about it, except the people who heard him and just joked around, thinking it didn’t matter. I talked about it with my best friend, but I couldn’t bear to tell her the extent of it. This guy kept making sexual propositions to me – we were fourteen or fifteen, mind you – and asking to “buy my virginity for 20 cents” and continued though I didn’t find it funny, didn’t laugh at all, almost cried and asked him to stop talking to me many times. At some point, I went to see our homeroom teacher, who was probably the professor I trusted the most because she was one of the kindest people I had ever met. I went to see her and asked to change seats because that guy was harassing me, and I couldn’t stand it anymore. But she told me that it wasn’t a problem, he had problems in his family with his brother and parents, and I should be nice to him. Though that was not the problem, and he was the problem and his actions shouldn’t be excused. I felt betrayed by this teacher, who didn’t take my pain seriously.
And here I am, years later, thinking that his actions probably partly led to my depression. Here I stand, and I can say “me too”. Me too, I have been harassed, by people I knew, and by people I didn’t know. There are one time occasions and repetitive ones, and none of them should be minimised. It is still harassment even if it’s just a one time thing. Flirting and harassing people are very different things. It plays in the tone of the words, and it plays in the words spoken. Yes, I do like it when people pay attention to me. But harassment is not paying attention to me. It is unwelcome and unwanted. It makes me uncomfortable. And that’s just a natural reaction.
People go minimising harassment because it’s not as bad as rape. But the same people will tell you that “she was asking for it, come on, have you seen what she was wearing?”. The same people will go tell you that the victim is exaggerating the situation and so on. Don’t listen to them. If someone by their actions towards you makes you feel uncomfortable, you should speak up, and even seek protection if you think it’s necessary.
This is all parts of what makes me a person, what makes me who I am, and I wish it didn’t have to be.
Ps: I recommend you to read this article which expresses my thoughts even better than everthing I just shared https://totalsororitymove.com/literally-why-cant-i-say-metoo/