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01 October 2014 @ 11:25 am
on harassment  
Every woman I have ever talked to about it -- and that's a lot -- has experienced harassment by classmates, colleagues, and/or strangers.

The first time it happened to me, I was in high school, and three of my male classmates backed me into a corner and talked about grabbing and sucking my breasts. So that wasn't awesome.

But what was awesome is that at the time, sexual harassment was getting a lot of coverage: Anita Hill was testifying against Clarence Thomas, so I had a role model for the importance of speaking up, and my mom really encouraged me to talk to the teacher about what had happened. I did, and my teacher responded wonderfully, affirming that what had happened was absolutely not okay, and that I did the right thing to bring it up. And then, she took it to the school counselor, and the boys got a talking to that they obviously took really seriously, because all three of them apologized in a very believable way the next day.

As I look back, there are a lot of things I like about what happened: No one doubted my story or suggested that I had done anything to invite the harassment. No one suggested I should just ignore it. The words "boys will be boys" were never uttered. Further, I like that the handling of the boys felt right-sized, and whatever conversation was had was one they took seriously. I don't know where they are, but I have a hope that they learned from this that it's not okay to behave that way to the women and girls in their lives and that this event had a long-lasting effect to the good.

Until sexual harassment is much less common, I hope this kind of response becomes much MORE common.
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veek on October 1st, 2014 03:54 pm (UTC)
Wow. That IS fantastic response, and I also hope that more people respond that way. Of course, we know that many many people don't—and I'm really glad you shared this, because stories like this are critical to helping it happen more often. And to retaining some hope for humanity.

David Policardpolicar on October 1st, 2014 05:13 pm (UTC)
unintentional baitredheadedmuse on October 2nd, 2014 01:28 am (UTC)
thanks for sharing your story and your mature reflections on it.