I think that it is important to share with each other not only our experiences, but how they make us feel- our innermost experiences & feelings. To be vulnerable with one another can be highly valuable. I feel like one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity is to deeply connect with one another and the intimacy that these experiences foster. Outside of my family there is no greater earthly joy than the joy of connecting with another human being, especially when that human being is a sweet friend.
In honor of all the women that have been coming forward in recent months (& years, really), I want to share an experience with you that I have mostly kept to myself. I don’t know if you would even call it “sexual harassment” & honestly, I think that’s part of the problem…sometimes we don’t know what to think. It had to be sometime in November 2015, I don’t remember the exact date, but I was super pregnant & just trying to get through another day at work. I was standing in front of the computer “analyzing data” or whatever you want to call it, it doesn’t matter. I called my boss over to look at something that I had a question about. Now when two people are sharing a computer screen it’s inevitable that your space bubble will be a bit compromised, but I realized that he was getting uncomfortably close to me. Then he moved a little closer & shifted his leg forward so that his penis was touching my outer thigh! You know, when someone you don’t know well (or even do know well) touches you unexpectedly & you want to jerk away but don’t want to seem awkward or even rude? So I didn’t immediately pull away, I just froze. I was suddenly flooded with embarrassment & thoughts like “Did he just put his penis on me?” & “Or am I crazy or just blowing it out of proportion?” & “I am a big, fat, pregnant girl, there is no way he is actually coming on to me!”. Then he proceeded to bounce his leg up & down (like we all do sometimes, letting off nervous energy or something like that) & right then I knew that it was intentionally done. I acted like nothing happened & walked away. I was quite perplexed, & after thinking about for a while I actually started to feel guilty, because hey I am a married woman & and I just pretty much let some guy, who wasn’t my husband, rub his penis all over my thigh! I really didn’t know what to do about the situation, I wondered if I should have contacted our company’s HR department, but I was afraid. Afraid that I was “overthinking ” it, or making it a bigger deal than it actually was, I was afraid that he would deny it & that I would just look like a big dumbass! Besides, did I really want to get him fired over what might have been a trivial event? I knew that I would be quitting my job as soon as I gave birth (which would be any day now) & I didn’t want to “cause trouble”, so I did nothing.
I didn’t really think about it much after that, I mean some creep putting his clothed penis on my leg isn’t what I would label as a traumatic or life-altering experience. I actually felt guilty bringing attention to the “event” because there are so many people that have suffered immensely from far worse instances of sexual harassment & abuse. But that is not the point. Why did I not feel like it was okay to jerk away & say “Hey creep! Get your dick off of me!”? I’m sure there are plenty of women out there who would have been brave enough to act differently, & I applaud those women. But what about the rest of us?
I don’t have all the answers & it’s not even really about me & my experience. The point is to support all of the other women who have spoken out. The point is to encourage the next women or girl to speak out, or better yet to say “NO!”. I want my daughter, & all girls & women, to know & feel like they can say no. I don’t think we will ever live in a world where things like this don’t happen. Unfortunately, there will always be people willing to hurt others to get what they want. But we can be educated, encouraged, & empowered to react differently! I want to encourage you to make standing up for yourself & “speaking out” normal, for yourselves, for our daughters & our sons, for the generations to come.
My inspiration for writing this was the women & girls of the world, but let’s face it sexual harassment & abuse is a reality our sons face as well. I hope we can all be encouraged to stand up & speak out for all who suffer regardless of gender or any differences we may have between us.
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.” Proverbs 31:8
With our love,