If there is ever a time for social media trends to take shape, the time is now and I'm proud to be an advocate for this very topic.
WARNING, ADULT CONTENT AND FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY PLEASE.
Call it a fad. Call it victims' remorse. Call it whatever you want. This story, and all stories about sexual misconduct and abuse, should never be shunned and hidden under the carpet like a dirty problem that will soon subside. On the contrary, that dirt will only accumulate to more filth. And soon it will get into the depths of your floorboards and wreak to the point of finger-pointing and comments of "why did you let it get this bad?" or "how could you let this happen?" Well let me tell you my friends, and I'm probably preaching to the choir to whomever is reading this, when it comes to sexual misconduct and abuse of women, we're too often silenced and called "prudish" when and if we feel "uncomfortable." We feel bad and often times feel the need to just "let it go, they're idiots" or "boys will be boys." Unfortunately, our popularity contest among our peers is measured upon how well we can handle a dirty joke here and there or a whistle from across the street. We're told time and time and time again to just let it go. Deal with it. For reporting it and standing up for yourself will only get you into more trouble. Silence is the deadly killer here. And I'm sick and tired of it.
The following experiences I've had personally, are not nearly as horrific as what many other women have had to deal with within their lives. Nor do I claim these to be any less or more significant. What I do want to do is shed light on this epidemic problem of sexual misconduct so that our future generation, both girls and boys, will understand what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior when it comes to their bodies and the treatment of others.
1) When I was in grade school, my male classmates would often pinch and try to unclasp my female classmates' bras. It was a game, they said. Stop being a baby, they said. And for those who reported it to the teacher were forever deemed a "cry baby" or shunned from many lunch tables to join in on any fun.
2) When I was in intermediate, my recess boyfriend (yes, we only saw and spoke to each other during recess) wanted to kiss me for the first time after school. I didn't really want to. I thought he smelled like cheese pizza all the time and his hands would get all clammy when we held hands for those 20 minutes a day. When we walked off campus, he turned to me and gave me a quick wet one on my mouth. It was very brief. No eye contact either. It was as if we were both pressured into this moment by our friends who were idling around back witnessing the awkwardness unfold before them. I however knew that if I didn't follow through, and same goes for the poor guy, we would have been the laughing stock of the school the next day ... until they found someone new to torture.
3) When I was in high school, a male teacher of mine asked me to stay after class to which he proceeded to ask if I had any questions about what I saw during a film we had to watch that day. He was referring to the sex scene in the movie The Basketball Diaries starring Leonardo DiCaprio. "Um no....." I responded as he then smiled, nodded, and went back to his desk.
4) When I was in college, walking, in broad daylight, on my way to class, a male driver turned his car rapidly in front of me before I could cross the street and proceeded to masterbate himself while driving. His eyes locked with mine and I didn't even understand what was going on until he gave me a smirk. He sped off before I gotten a chance to respond.
5) While at a bar, a guy approached me from behind and grabbed my butt before asking me what my name was. Horrified, shocked and infuriated, I pushed him away and ran to my friend who just so happened to have been the bouncer that evening. While my bouncer friend fished him out of the crowd, my attacker's friends asked me why I had to be a "buzzkill" and that "I should take it as a compliment." I even felt bad for my attacker when my bouncer friend held him up by his collar infront of my face before tossing him out into the streets.
6) I once witnessed a male colleague of mine grope my female colleague's butt while saying their goodbyes. What made it especially worse is that he held a superior position over both of us. She was wasted and so was he but he knew exactly where and what he was grabbing. She never brought it up to me, nor do I even think she remembers it. And I never brought it up in fear of possibly losing my job.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of scenarios as I'm sure many of my women friends can concur. I won't even bother going into details of the numerous cat calls that I receive when I'm walking from point A to point B in my own neighborhood; or when a college classmate asked me to lick his beer off the floor after I accidentally spilled it and proceeded to pull my waist in tighter while trying to kiss me; or when I'm repeatedly asked to smile by male strangers when I pass them by on the streets; or when I had to find another route to walk home from grade school as a weird man behind an enclosed gate would whistle at me each time I'd pass. All of these little instances add up, let me tell you, to the point of boilage that just may be the result of this #metoo hashtag. And although sexual misconduct and abuse happens to us all, (girls and boys, transgenders, women, men and elders) I'm especially wanting to call out our young men and those who raise them to be vigilant and stop their actions from the very beginning, or lack thereof, as it will only compound and become a greater load of dirt and filth under the rug, which will ultimately affect all persons that they encounter.
Let's all do a better job—all of us—in protecting and educating our young people that sexual misconduct and abuse has no place in this world. It may just help save a life, but we need to all work together to do so.