There’s a common misconception that sexual harassment only happens in the workplace. Well, if you spent most of your day in one location, chances are many things will be happening to you exclusively in one location. But don’t fall prey to these assumptions. It’s not any safer for women outside of their cubicles.
Grabbing coffee, walking down the street, taking the bus, waiting for an uber, bending down to pick up a toddler, eating ice cream on a hot ass day… can we just agree that these are all extra-ridiculous scenarios in which to be sexualized and harassed? And can we also agree that there’s never a “right time” to sexually harass anyone?
Great, now that we got that out of the way let’s get real.
If (thankfully) you haven’t experienced this for yourself, ask any woman you know if they’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted and chances are you’ll feel pretty shitty about how many of them say yes. Go ahead and ask them at what age they were first sexually harassed or assaulted. Yeah, that one’s not for the faint-hearted.
Here’s a DO NOW for you: Read this article from start to finish, then send to anyone you know who said they were “shocked” by the number of “me too’s” they saw on social media last week.
#Metoo is one too many
Look, this shit has been happening everywhere, all the time, for a long time. The #metoo campaign has been shedding light on how prevalent these incidents are (did you think we were kidding, though?) but it’s not enough to stop the madness. Luckily, we have the power of social media to keep conversations going and amplify voices that would otherwise be invalidated.
Not only are the voices of victims being amplified, but the faces and names of their assaulters are as well. Because of this, we’ve seen that they don’t fit in the box of “creep in the alley”-- they can be a neighbor, a family member, an otherwise well respected member of society.
Standing in solidarity with victims of sexual harassment and assault can be difficult if you don’t know who needs your support. This isn’t exactly something that people talk about, even amongst friends.
The extra bullshit women of color are dealing with
According to Rainn.org, a case of sexual assault happens every 98 seconds. How are we even supposed to process that? For women of color, there’s an added layer of oppression to consider.
Let’s be real: In all forms of media, stereotypes involving women of color often allude to sexualization and promiscuity. You would think it gets old after a while, but clearly not for those with power in the industry (*cough, cough Harvey Weinstein cough*). These typecasts do more harm by creating a false sense of consent and can make it harder to put the burden of proof on the assaulter. WTF, right?
This is what we call Institutionalized racism, and it can make it harder for women of color to trust the systems that are supposed to help them…which is why many cases of sexual harassment go unreported. Then there’s the retaliation that often follows… and then you wonder why 54% of rapes aren’t reported? SMH
Take a look at some stats and figures:
We know the story well. Think Oprah Winfrey, Viola Davis, America Ferrera. Even some of the most well-known and powerful women of color have found it difficult to share their stories until recently:
Do we really have to go there?
If you want to be that person and talk about false rape reports, then yes, those do unfortunately occur and they account for 2-8% of all reports (keep in mind that only a fraction of all sexual assaults and rapes are actually reported).
For the sake of giving you some perspective, roughly 10% of all carjackings are false reports. So, if you’re ever in the unfortunate predicament of having your car stolen (read: something taken from you without your consent) and someone doesn’t take you seriously because there are cases of false reports, think about the women whose humanity and dignity were taken from them without their consent and what it must have been like to be turned away and shamed because of a mere 8%.
It’s not just the moguls
The latest story about Harvey Weinstein has reignited conversations about the Hollywood industry and its open secrets. Whether it was Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Riley, or the president himself, it seems people haven’t learned (or don’t want to learn) how rampant sexual harassment and assault are; not just in the entertainment industry, but in literally every industry out there.
While we could easily make this about how rich men in power are taking advantage of their status, it’s not just the rich media moguls. The Brock Turners of the world are getting away with these heinous crimes because any jail time would have a negative impact on their futures.
Did you get that? Apparently the well-being and future of white rapists is more important than the justice for their victims.
Something tells us Harvey Weinstein won’t be the last of these filthy predators.
But there is hope! Social media has made it harder for voices to be silenced and easier for solidarity to spread. You can also support your friends by knowing how to read the signs:
- Physical injuries- like bruising, soreness or difficulty walking
- Challenges maintaining relationships and trusting others
- Isolation from their community and loves ones, along with outbursts of anger
Also- If you know someone who’s worried about being accused of sexual harassment, we’ve got something that might help. A quick word to the not-so-wise: it’s not up to women to “fix” and educate men about assault. Got it? Get the facts straight, listen up, and keep your hands to yourself.
Here’s what late-night television host Samantha “Bae” Bee has to say about it.
And don't forget your homework assignment:
Send this article to five friends, and help set the record straight.
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