Like the church a few years ago, Harvey Weinstein and lots of other big Hollywood bozo’s suddenly collapse under the force that’s the united complaints of loads of people who finally go and tell who exactly harassed them when they were young.
I hear many men complain ‘oi, it’s not ALL MEN?! I was actually raised pretty properly!’ and I can imagine it feels like being trapped in the ‘guilty’ box even though you’re pretty sure you’ve never done anything.
First of all: hello and welcome aboard the Shittrain Of Accusations that women endure when they even so much as try to report what happened to them.
First questions asked aren’t ‘what did he wear? What does he look like? Shall I punch him in the face for you?’ most likely it’s:
‘What were you wearing? Did you say something that might have given him the idea you wanted it?’ or ‘how did he get to be alone with you?’
It’s mostly trying to see if it could be blamed on you. You. The one who just reported the harassment.
As a society we’re clear: it’s NEVER your fault.
Then again, as a society, our first approach is still that is COULD BE your fault after all. Maybe it’s not how you intend it, but it is how you approach it, quite likely.
Ages ago, when I was quite heavily underage (or at least very heavily underdeveloped as I recall), an aquantaince found a way to spend time with me. I hadn’t realised I had never been alone with this man, nor what the look in his eyes had meant when I had been wearing a bathing suit around him some time before that. I do recall -afterwards- that I had never seen anyone look at me like that. Not knowing what it meant, I didn’t act upon it in any way.
One afternoon his wife went out. It then happened. I am not a person to actually verbally say ‘stop that, please’. Even without the please. I just freeze. I’m quite introvert. I have learned from a young age that telling ‘stop, I don’t like it’ doesn’t help. Being the daily target of bullies at school, I had, in fact, learned that usually had the opposite effect.
I did try to at least turn my legs away, but being in a rather small space, that wasn’t a real option. It was caressing, touching, without actual looking at me. I got up, in hopes of escaping, but my leg was caught in his arms and he pulled me closer to him. As I couldn’t use my leg to keep my balance, my automatic response was to look for a way to keep my balance. That was sort of a ‘wrap my arm around his head’ kind of situation. So he got to touch my breast aswell in his next move. Given that my leg was now free, I got to walk away from that scene after that.
It took me quite some time to get over that. I had no idea what just happened, why it happened and especially not why it had happened to ME. I have never found myself attractive in any way whatsoever, people have always told me I look far too skinny to be that in case I might think different: so WHY me, really? And for the record: I had been wearing short skirts and dresses around this man for quite some time (it was summer and I was a daily visitor to the pool that was less than 10 feet away) but I was actually wearing trousers and an oversized T-shirt that particular day. Just so you know.
I decided to tell someone that same day, as I couldn’t stop crying for a full hour when I got back to where I was staying. I told the right one, thankfully, as the aquaintance who did it got an angry visit after that right away. I was told, before that visit ‘you have done NOTHING wrong, it wasn’t your fault and I’m glad that you have told me’. To be fair I have no idea what would have happened if the first one I told it to hadn’t responded like that.
I do recall telling some of my family members, and at least one of them responded with:
‘Are you sure it was that bad what happened? Uncle Blahblah has sometimes touched me weirdly too, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything’. I was a bit shocked by that. Not just Uncle Blahblah apparently not being able to keep their hands away -something I never have endured, thankfully- but also the idea that my interpretation of the experience could be questioned.
I’ve noticed something else too, with the #MeToo hashtag: women are being far braver than ever before. They still hardly mention any names though. Only when it’s one of them big bastards, like Harvey Weinstein, they do. He is already proven guilty after admitting he has done wrong things. So women do feel they no longer have to keep silent on his part. Good for them. But these other men, why still protect them?
I get it and I don’t get it, is all. And yes, I’m aware I’m doing exactly the same, but I think everyone’s story as to why they protect their harasser is different. I’m just curious to why others do it.
In my case, I find the fact that this man was already confronted with what he had done and afterwards apologised to me with the demands of the one who confronted him, he’s had his punishment. He thought he could get away with it, he couldn’t. I told, it was solved.
Another thing to be noticed with the hashtag: mostly it’s women coming forward about men harassing them. Unfortunately, men are sufferers too. There’s a book out about a boy growing up in an unsafe environment too. It’s called When The Waves Break The Silence and will be available soon on pumbo.com.