I have. Many times and in many ways. By men who were at least 20 years older than me. By relatives. By my mother’s boyfriends. By my best friends’ fathers. All of whom knew I wouldn’t say anything. Sometimes I went into a period of mental shock, “He didn’t just really do that, did he? I must have misunderstood”. Mostly, I knew that I would either not be believed or I would be blamed. For certain I knew that he had power over me, and my best bet was to shut up and take it.
This sort of disregard for another human being’s personal space and shitting all over self identity and worth is not an act perpetrated only on females or by females. I know of horrific examples of men who were exposed to this demeaning and damaging attitude and behavior, only to remain silent and try to become the best people they could be despite it. Yet it is more common for someone (often a man) to see a female walking by and reach out and touch, feel, grab what he wants. No man would allow unwanted attention like this stand, not usually.
When our current Commander in Chief (such a bully title) joked about grabbing women by the pussy and getting away with it, I could not help but flash back to the many feels that have been copped upon me, especially when I was younger. Grab ’em, grope ’em, kiss ’em even, or perhaps especially when, they don’t want it. This statement broke my heart and I was certain that we had come far enough that a human that espoused such predilections would never be allowed to become president. He was not only elected, but was probably voted for by groped and silent women who say at least he was “honest about it”.
Why are we quiet? I can’t imagine my tween daughter putting up with this. She is so clear on how she expects to be treated in the world that I can’t imagine another response from her than, “what the fuck are you doing?” (this is an instant in which she is allowed to curse loud and strong). But what if she freezes? Doesn’t know what is happening? Only later says to herself, “Did that really happen?” This frightens me.
With a dynamic of power over another, cowardly people see the relationship as permission to behave very badly, to see the other as less than, and to do with them whatever they wish. We won’t tell if we value our relationships and our place in our family and friend circles. Somehow it is seen as a badge of courage to be silent. I call BULLSHIT.
Disregard for another’s body and integrity is obviously still rampant and goes to the highest levels of government. The perpetrators are lined up and awaiting their opportunity. The cone of silence is still instilled among the victims; most still do not report rape. I thought we had come so far. But the festering pus of this problem has only been revealed again by order of the president.
How do we protect our children? How do we get women to tell others who invade their personal space and grab what they want to back up and fuck off?