So tonight I am tackling a subject that, in all honesty, I'd rather not discuss, but I feel compelled and it always seems best to share when that happens, on the hopes of one good result or another.
Feminism in general isn't a topic I tend to take part in. Not because I think it's unimportant, but because it seems to skew and digress into something counter-productive and negative rather than empowering for either gender. Sexual assault, harassment, rape, none of these things are gender specific, and often the argument becomes convoluted and one-sided.
Let me preface any content with the fact that I can only speak for myself, and so I will speak.
I was sexually assaulted both as a small child and again as a young adult. It's not something I talk about, because I'm a very private person and because I never want to be the object of pity and sympathy. I don't want appear as the victim. It's a pride thing in the end, I guess. Which I know is very silly. I want to be a badass...and I am, because I have to be. But as much as I want to feel as though I can handle any situation that I face, the truth is I am constantly on high-alert.
Today, a man approached me and asked me to google a phone number of a local business for him. I was happy to help; I try hard to be kind to others and never be off-putting. As I googled the number for him, he moved closer and closer to my back, almost resting his head on my shoulder as he looked at my phone. As I scrolled to find the business, that started to seem non-existent, he wrapped a hand around my upper arm. I pulled away and asked him not to touch me again. His charming response was "Oh baby girl, I don't bite."
Luckily then, my bus arrived. This is one small incident. Among the many I encounter on a regular basis. I've been touched inappropriately, stopped aggressively and followed, whistled at, and spoken to like a piece of sex trash. It's draining always being on defense mode when I'm alone. Draining isn't even the right word.
It fucking pisses me off.
A few dickbags ruin it for everyone and it makes me not want to be kind to strange men.
It shouldn't be like that. Like I said, I can't speak for anyone but myself, but I know other women deal with the same sort of behavior and I'm sure it makes them feel vulnerable.
I bring this up, mostly as a rant, based on my own personal experience, but I also bring this up, because I know it helps no one to keep quiet. Being one of hundreds of thousands of people who have experienced rape, I know how awful you feel, and that those feelings dissipate, but never really go away. There may always be a part of you that feels weak and defeated. Something about being overpowered in that way makes you feel less of yourself, and that's what your attacker wants. I also know that if you can overcome all of those horrible feelings and self-abuse that comes afterward, you can become the most empowered version of yourself. No one should ever, EVER have to go through any kind of abuse, but if it does happen, you can become a phoenix. And you can kick ass. And you can help others.
All of this being said, if you have your own story, don't be afraid to tell it. And if you're not ready to tell it, that's ok! But know that there are people you can tell, one of them being me.