Recently, a very good friend of mine shared some of her feelings on the latest Trump BS. I asked if she’d mind me sharing her feelings with you guys. So, today, on the blog, my friend shares why it’s not okay to dismiss assaulting women as “locker room” banter…
TEN YEARS BETWEEN
Sexual assault, or the talk thereof, seems to be the topic of the hour lately. We all know why; I’m not going to recap the latest news on that front. But I’ve been hearing a lot of rhetoric about locker room banter and boys being boys. Like somehow talk doesn’t lead to action. Every woman at some point or another has experienced it. And today, I’m sharing a small glance into a ten-year window of my own life, during my vulnerable years as a budding young woman.
When I’m 12, a boy on the bus tells me I’m flat-chested, and spends the ride to school expounding on that fact. It’s not the first time a boy has commented on my body, but it’s the first time the comments have made me feel violated. Because, I guess, by twelve, I should have the bust of a playboy bunny, and the fact that I don’t is an offense to him.
When I’m 14, I go to the high school cafeteria for lunch with my friends. Our table is one chair short, so I pull an empty one from a nearby table. A few minutes later, a boy who wants to sit with his friends at that other table decides I’ve stolen his chair, and spends the next several minutes verbally accosting me with the insults that I am fat and ugly. A fat pig. Too fat for his chair. I weigh 135lbs. I don’t go to lunch again after that.
When I’m 15, I’m walking two blocks from my house to a friend’s. I’m wearing long pants and a long-sleeved blouse. A middle-aged man in a pick-up pulls up next to me and asks, “How much?” I’m confused at first, and respond, “Pardon?” He clarifies. It would seem that a fully clothed teenage girl walking down a suburban street in the middle of the afternoon must, of course, be hooking.
When I’m 16, I go with a friend to the house party of a guy she’s seeing. A few of us go into the hot tub. One guy grabs my ankle, yanks me into his lap, and tries to penetrate me. I do get away, though I’m bruised and sore for days—but my virginity is intact, so I don’t say anything. After all, it was my fault for going in the hot tub, right? Or maybe I’m to blame for even going to the party at all.
When I’m 17, my boyfriend’s best friend tells everyone who will listen that we slept together. We never did, and I never would. But no one except my boyfriend believes me.
When I’m 18, I’m working graveyard at a diner to make ends meet. There’s a regular who comes in drunk and gives all the female servers the creeps. He won’t stop touching me, my hand, my arm, my waist, my back. I tell him, “Don’t touch me.” His response is both confused and angry. How dare I say that when he was just being friendly?
When I’m 20, I’m a shift manager at a pizza joint. The store manager has a fondness for pretty young girls. I don’t think much of it until he smacks my ass in front of a store full of people. I call him on it. He acknowledges what he’s done, but doesn’t understand why it was a problem for me. I almost don’t say anything else. Until I find out he’s been doing much worse to the other female shift runner. She has a baby on the way and can’t afford to lose her job. So she kept quiet. I go to the area supervisor to protect her.
When I’m 22, I’m working as a marketing assistant in a very small office. Some days it’s just my boss and me in the office. One day, I forget to lock the bathroom door. I’m just zipping up when my boss barges in. “Oh, I didn’t know you were in here,” he says, and I believe him. But a week later, he tries again. And fails, because I locked the door obsessively after that first time. Years later, I’m still friends with the girl I trained as my replacement there. He tried the same thing with her after I left.
These men weren’t born in test tubes and raised in solitary confinement. Every single one of these men were someone’s son, someone’s husband, someone’s father, and for the most part functioning members of society. They all have families, careers, circles of friends. And morally grotesque conversation absolutely can (and does) manifest physically.
And I am not unique.
Sometimes we speak up; sometimes we don’t. That doesn’t make us the ones in the wrong. It’s NEVER a woman’s fault. It’s never a man’s privilege to touch a woman, or make her feel unsafe.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying all men are like this. My husband certainly isn’t. He would never dream of saying, or even thinking the types of things that are making headlines these days, and I know plenty of other men just like him. But to excuse the reprehensible conversation that is trying to be passed off as “locker room banter” is only perpetuating rape culture. And that’s an inexcusable way to raise our next generation.