There’s been much on the news about Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment and assault. What ensued was an explosion of women coming forward to disclose sexual abuse and harassment by this man and other power men. Sexual assault or harassment doesn’t start or end with Weinstein or big Hollywood execs or people with power. It’s everywhere. Ordinary people with ordinary lives commit acts of sexual assault and harassment.
According to RAINN, a person is sexually assaulted ever 98 seconds. Let me repeat that: A person is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds. Let that sink in just a bit.
Storytelling is a powerful tool. Storytelling, when done with intention, gives the storyteller the liberty to share as little or as much as they want to, and sometimes not at all. Storytelling builds community and empathy.
The idea of using stories to address a community issue is not new. Throughout history, people have built support and movement with storytelling. Tarana Burke started the “me too Movement” ten years ago to build empathy in young female survivors through story sharing and empowerment to know that they are not alone. Alyssa Milano took to twitter and trended #metoo.
Today, I share with you some of my experiences of unwanted sexual solicitation and harassment. I can’t even count how many times this has happened to me. And it’s not because I’m walking down a dark alleyway at night. It’s while I’m at work, running errands, picking my kids up from school, shopping, at the gym, online–it’s when I’m living my every day life.
- Men, who are complete strangers, make sexual jokes thinking I will laugh or enjoy them.
- Men who ask how I am in bed because “Asian women may be quiet, but they have a wild side.”
- Men who catcall (honk, whistle, yell) even when I’m pregnant.
- Man who sat right next to me in a room full of empty computers only to give me his “networking card” then follow me around school.
- Men who call the crisis line to get off on describing sexual acts to me.
- Men and boys who take advantage of PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act) and use the crisis line to call from jail to sexually harass me and other advocates. “Hey Ma, What it do?” “Are you single?” “You sound sexy.” These have nothing to do with calling to ask for supportive services for having been sexually assaulted or raped while incarcerated.
- Men who solicit through Facebook Messaging, asking to be more than friends then getting upset when I tell them I’m not interested.
- Man who got angry at me when I blocked him on Facebook for offensive and increasingly violent comments. After he couldn’t contact me any more, he found my partner on Facebook and told him how in love he is with me and talked to my partner about me in vulgar, sexual ways.
- Online men who tell me I deserve to be raped because I’m “triggered,” a “libtard,” or an “SJW.”
- Professor who showed 18-year-old me his erect penis through his pants.
Why does this happen? What can we do about it? The very short and simple answer is we address the root causes and change the status quo.
So, tell me, how do you think we should go about doing it?
If you or someone you know have been sexually assault and need to talk to someone, you can call RAINN at 1 (800) 656-4673. It’s confidential and free.