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#METOO

You’re not the only one.
My boyfriend and I have opened up a dialogue about the day-to-day experiences of women.He is an intelligent, thoughtful, considerate, and sensitive man. Despite this, however, there are just things that a lot of men don’t and can’t understand, until we teach them and talk to them. Fortunately, he’s kept an open mind and has asked questions, and has tried to understand. I am so thankful to him for that, and I can only hope that he passes the message along. I feel like I should pass the message along as well.

I’m compelled to write this today not only because it’s timely and news-worthy at the moment, but because sometimes, I feel like my own reaction to  sexual harassment and the incessant need some men have to make me and other women feel uncomfortable, fetishized, and less-than is part of the problem.During one of our conversations about how men treat women on the street with cat-calling and the like, my boyfriend said something along the lines of, “but I feel like you’re not always complaining about that stuff.” Sure, at the age of 28, I’ve built up a mechanism to block out most of the noise I hear on a regular basis – some of which include:

“Hey, why aren’t you smiling? Smile!”“Yo, yo! Come here! Where are you going?”

“Come here and talk to me. Let me get your number.”

“Looking good!”

“Konnichiwa!”

“So you’re not even going to say hi?”

“Nice lipstick.”

At this point, including all of the glances, the straight up staring, blocking my way on the sidewalk, and honking at me from a car – I truly cannot recall every single thing that a stranger has done or said to creep me out or upset me. This is why I don’t complain.I’ve also heard people make judgements when women “complain too much” or “brag about” all of the unwanted male attention they receive, as if they think we wear every comment and gaze as a badge of honour, reaffirming our attractiveness and how desirable we are. I’ve even heard people compare someone’s looks to the amount of cat-calls she “claims” to get, as if it’s disproportionate to how attractive she is. I’ve even thought, “Well I’m no bombshell, so what I deal with can’t be nearly that bad.” This is why I don’t complain.

Every day, I am thankful that I have never been attacked, abused, or raped. However, my gratitude doesn’t come from a sense of mindful reflection or some sort of daily affirmation to be grateful for my blessings. Every day, I am thankful that I have never been attacked, abused, or raped, because every day, I fear that it could happen to me. The fear doesn’t go away. I am fearful at night, walking home alone. I am fearful during the day, when I’m among a crowd of people on a busy street. I am fearful when I enter a public bathroom, and I am fearful when I take public transportation. I am fearful because I was taught that there were bad men out there who would want to cause me harm, and that I alone, was in charge of my own safety. Many, if not all, of my male peers have never been taught to be afraid like I have. This is why I don’t complain.
There are so many other reasons why I stay quiet about what I go through, like not wanting to seem dramatic, or feeling like my experiences are trivial in comparison to other people’s. However, perhaps if we all just said “Fuck it,” and reacted and spoke up more – not just for ourselves, but for others as well – people would see that EVERY SINGLE DAY women are objectified, harassed, creeped out, ogled at, and when we try to ignore it or reject advances, we’re made to feel uncomfortable, or like prudes, or like stuck-up bitches. Women shouldn’t be afraid, and men shouldn’t feel like being predatory or aggressive is okay, so long as they get what they want.Men need to be given the opportunity to learn and understand that even things that they think aren’t harmful or problematic do affect us. Men who ignore this should be held accountable for their actions.

You can’t open up a dialogue if you don’t say anything, so here I am, saying something.

I hope that more women speak up too, and I hope that women who have been abused or raped find the courage to speak out as well, because there are people listening, and we believe you, and we’re not here to judge. Every day is different, and some days will be tougher than others, but I’ll try to do my part.

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