October 18, 2016
I am happy to hear the conversation about sexual assault being brought out into the open. Perhaps talking about it can help prevent it.
I have been thinking about my experiences. In college I found myself in a couple of bad situations. When things got out of hand I blamed myself. I blamed drinking. I figured it was my fault. I had flirted and I had liked the initial attention.
When I moved to New York in the late 80’s I found myself the object of many a man’s cat calls and groping. I started to walk with my hands at attention waiting to feel the contact on my ass. What power I felt when the fingers began the journey between my legs and I grabbed them and bent them backward and in my deepest, strongest voice said, “Keep your fucking hands off me you mother fucker or I will kill you, you fucking asshole!”
With each word I bent his fingers closer to the back of his hand. He pulled away.
“You are crazy!”
“That’s right, motherfucker, and I will kill you!”
Graced with this new sense of empowerment I felt like I was an actual New Yorker.
Why? Why should I have to feel this need to be on the defense.
Recently, I was walking down First Avenue in a new dress. I felt great. It has been some time since I have been groped. I am middle aged and most gropers, I believe, prefer young women to assault, so I no longer feel the need to have my hands at the ready. A man walks toward me moving closer to my personal space and grabs my eyes with his and says,”You are a MILF!” In my best New Yorker way I acted as if he did not exist.
“MILF!” He called after me. “MIIIILLLFFF!”
Was I supposed to be flattered? A tiny part of me thought, “well, I still got it.” Then I was angry. Angry at myself for liking it that tiny bit. And angry at that man who felt he has the power to make me feel a certain way based on his opinion. He wanted to have power over me. He was pissed that he didn’t. But what he didn’t know was that he did in some way. He made me feel like an object.
This made me realize that as a young woman I let myself be objectified. Whose fault was that? Was it mine? My family’s fault? The fault of our culture?
I have two daughters. They are actual born and bred New Yorkers. They are way edgier than I ever was and probably will ever be. I talk to them constantly about being mindful of their bodies. My younger daughter is 1fifteen years old. She often dresses in what should be just comfortable clothes but I have to tell her to cover up. She gets angry. I have to warn her about the other people out there. It is not her. It is our culture. It is the acceptance of Locker Room talk. It is the culture of wealthy men wanting to buy everything including women. Boys will be boys!
Well, guess what? Powerful women will be powerful women. And we will not tolerate this. And the men who are not motherfuckingassholes will not stand by and let this happen.
Keep talking about it! Do not back down. And do not elect a motherfuckingasshole!