Strangers made me feel like I should be thankful that I'm attractive enough to be assaulted.
I was looking for change while standing on the sidewalk when I heard the shuffling. I hadn’t even been aware of his presence until I heard his feet move past me and stop directly behind me. I froze, my hands gripping my cell phone as I turned around to face a 50-something year old old man, who was smiling at me creepily.
“Oh hi, uh, did you need something?” I squeaked while trying not to sound overly rude, but at the same time wanting to send the message that I could take his ass down if I needed to. “Oh no,” he said, “I was just checking you out.”
I knew it. I had a feeling that was coming from the moment I noticed him looking at me as if I were in a store window, something to be ogled at, something he could possibly take home. Yuck.
I quickly moved to a more public area and spent the next several hours fuming because this wasn’t the first time something like this has happened to me. Three months ago, some dude grabbed my ass at the mall and before that, a complete stranger put his arm around me while whispering in my ear that he would like to get to know me, as I was walking out of a courthouse. (Yes, a courthouse.) So this wasn't the first time I was sexually harassed; it was just the first time I didn't tell anyone.
Nope. I didn’t call any of my friends, I didn’t write about it on my blog, I just kept it to myself because the last few times I told anyone about what had happened, I was accused of humble bragging. That's right. Apparently, being harassed or assaulted and telling anyone about it is apparently a new form of egotism.
“Hey everyone, look at me, I keep getting assaulted! Go me, I must be so hot!”
A few months ago I went to a dance club with a girlfriend when out of nowhere, I felt a hard dick being pressed into my ass. Before I even had a chance to turn around and face this complete stranger, the sweaty disgusting arm of a man wrapped itself around me from behind and pressed his mouth against my ear, telling me to "back that ass up, baby." WHAT?! NOT OKAY.
When I recounted the story later on my blog, some of the commentors (read: trolls) were nothing less than infuriated. “Good freaking grief, Eden, do you feel better now that you've pointed out that a dude at the club tried to grind on you? Yes, we get it, you're so hot, thanks for the humble brag.”
So let me get this straight: When I get assaulted, the issue is that I have the audacity to talk about it later? The problem isn’t the men that are touching me, the problem is ME for telling people about it?
Let me set the record straight to all my haters: In no way am I bragging about being “desired," because the truth is, it's not about that. Men who sexually harrass women aren't looking for a wonderful woman to settle down with; they're looking for opportunities. They're looking for the girl on the street alone and the one without a male partner at the club. They aren’t looking at ME; they're just looking at what I represent.
And this isn't just about me; this kind of sh*t happens every. single. day. (Case in point: The viral video of the woman who used a hidden camera to film 10 hours of her walking around New York City, as men walk up next to her, stroll creepily beside her, and yell out unwanted "compliments" to her.) In no way is this flattering to her and in no way do I find it flattering when it happens to me; it's frustrating, degrading, objectifying, and in many instances, scary.
Yet apparently I can’t talk about it, because then I’m just humble bragging.
And that makes me sad. It makes me sad that our society is currently a place where men can say (and sometimes do) whatever they want to women and we're supposed to take that as a compliment of our worthiness. But how worthy should we feel when we're not allowed to feel like we deserve respect? It makes me sad that I was assaulted and I shouldn’t talk about it and that I'm made to feel like I should "just be thankful" the dude found me attractive enough to assault me in the first place.