I entered college when I was 18.
When I went to my first college party, a guy grabbed my butt, and one of my male friends saw and reacted by shoving him away from me while yelling some expletive. My friend was stared at for “overreacting”. Their stares made me question him too… was he overreacting?
When I went to a club for the first time, a guy stuck his arm out to grab me while I walked by him. When I said, “don’t touch me,” and pulled him off me, he looked at me and called me a bitch… was I being a bitch?
That same night at that same club, a guy repeatedly TOLD me to give him my number by throwing his phone my way. He didn’t stop asking when I said no, so I acted like I was too drunk to function and told him I didn’t remember my number.
One instance that will always stick out to me was when I was 20 and at a house party. It was nearing the end of the night, I was ready to go home, but had to wait for my friends to wrap up their conversations. One of the guys living at the house was really, really drunk, took his shirt off, and proceeded to chase me around the house trying to press his body against me. Luckily he was too drunk and wobbly and kept failing to keep close to me as I hurried away. This lasted maybe 3 minutes, but felt like an eternity. Finally, another girl at the house saw what was happening, saw the worry and fear across my face and yelled at him to stop and leave me alone. I thanked her, held back tears and tried to find my friends. I found one of them outside, told her I wanted to leave now and explained what happened and she said, “you’ll be ok. Just run away.”
In the moment, her reaction deeply pained me, but looking back, I just see it as proof on how girls and women are groomed from the start to put their feelings, security and peace of mind on hold for the sake of what men might want or think of us.
I couldn’t believe she would say that to me, found an empty corner on the porch, collapsed to the ground and started uncontrollably crying. After leaving a dozen calls and texts, my other friend finally got back to me, we called an uber to my apartment, I sat on my bed and just cried more. (Don’t worry, we’re still homies. Yay for communication).
I was 23 when I went to a day club in Vegas and a random man accidentally touched my butt while I was dancing near a platonic male friend. He said sorry, but not to me. He said sorry to my friend, whom he assumed was my boyfriend, like a, “Sorry for accidentally touching your girl”, when instead the apology should have definitely been given directly to me.
In the grand scheme of things, I get how these instances can seem minuscule to others. in fact, I’ve minimized and normalized them again and again in my head. But I’ve only named a few. There are so many more instances in which I’ve been subject to or seen my friends subjected to demeaning actions by males for simply being women. Every time I go out and boys stare at me weird, grab at me, catcall, or say or do whatever the hell they think their penis allows them to, I think of these instances and many others where my worth as a person felt like nothing. I thank God I haven’t gone through severe acts of sexual harassment or violence, like so many other men, women and children in this country have experienced. But the experiences I have gone through terrified me. They made me feel small and weak. They may have been from years ago, but they stay with me everywhere I go. I believe Christine Blasey Ford.
Notes: me and the guy from that main story don’t talk, but not cause of harbored resentment. He was always nice to me following this incident and people related to the situation apologized.
Feature illustration by @ashlukadraws (IG)