Weaving your body through a sea of crowded strangers just comes with the territory of living in New York City. For some people, it’s the thrill of surviving yet another level of human Tetris that fuels this melatonin-less city. For others, it’s a stressful game of dodgeball—dodging cabs, various bags, dogs, small children, and unfortunately wandering fingertips. There isn’t a day where I’m not channeling my inner Serena Williams, equipped with the skills of a mean backhand to strange hands that know no bounds or random fingers that have no jurisdiction over my body. The sad truth is that no matter where you are if you’re not attentive enough, a complete stranger can get away with testing the waters of your personal boundaries without your consent.
2017 seems to be the expiration date for a laundry list of spoiled topics that have been lurking in the back corners of society, leaving behind the foul odor of disdain/indifference. With social media holding many people accountable — all while educating followers on change & equality by fueling the many social revolutions of 2017 — there are still many barriers to be broken. With household names like Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Louis C.K., and John Lasseter, these names are barely even touching the surface of a growing list of perpetrators.
I didn't tell anyone about the sexual abuse until a while after the relationship ended. I've still only told a few people, even though part of me wanted to plaster signs all over the city so everyone would know what he did to me. He convinced me that what he did was okay, that I was just being a prude. Even the physical violence wasn't his fault. It wouldn't have happened if I wasn't such a bitch. A part of me still believes him. Slowly after he left, I started telling my friends and family about the emotional abuse, the violence, and finally how he raped and sexually assaulted me. Talking about it is freeing after keeping all these secrets for the years we were together. #metoo image is a repost from @rosemcgowan
Every time I turn on the news, it’s a new name, new face, new allegation(s), and new disappointment. There is indeed sadness in the air for the brave souls who are reopening the old wounds they’ve become victim to whose alarming concerns once fell onto deaf ears, employment was terminated, or who faced silenced pay-offs in which no price tag could ever merit. But there is a silver lining—in the wake of this handsy epidemic, it has brought on new consequences, new empathy, new community, and new change. This is a bittersweet victory within the realm of sexual harassment. Despite the latest trends in all industries across the board, it’s something that nests deeper than mainstream and high profile. Sexual harassment happens every day to anyone, anywhere with zero regards or preference for size, color, or gender. Although the news has been devastating in its wake of creating an end to this masquerade circuit, the tolerance for the pervasive culture of sexual harassment has truly reached a boiling point.
Carrying the sensation of being on pins and needles, we all await the responses from each and every high-profile-named perpetrator to come out in the news. From the aftermath of these allegations to the responses ranging from denial to regret, the main theme of is being apologetic. As I scroll through each public statement, “I’m sorry,” is a common phrase that greets us at the door within the realm of sexual misconduct wrongdoings. Without the fluff of open-ended excuses, we are supposed to find solace in apologies. “Sorry” doesn’t have the same ring to it when you’ve heard it time and time again as the list of sexual assault accusations grow; for some reason, that phrase seems to find a home in unwanted spaces lately; but what happens when the public eye is not involved?
I will never forget the day that I was walking with my roommate and a man briskly passed by her and whispered in her ear, “You have really nice breasts.” I will never forget the man thrice my age who believed that relentlessly asking me out for drinks at noon was synonymous with a butt grab. I will never forget the man who did not understand my friend’s personal boundaries, who grabbed her and kept going as she walked home. I will never forget that kissing and touching are not considered sexual harassment and charges cannot be pressed unless penetration was involved, stated in a safety brief when my friend studied abroad. I will never forget the story of a woman being cornered in the bathroom at an office party in regards to a promotion. I will never forget waking up to a man in a business suit discretely caressing my outer thigh when I fell asleep on my commute to the city. Six different places, six different stories, all versions of sexual harassment for everyday people with no grandiose apology.
A reckoning. That’s what’s happening. Women have been abused, assaulted, harassed, marginalized, oppressed, hushed, shamed, ridiculed and there was a tipping point. Enough is enough. _ Trump. Brock Turner. #metoo. Weinstein. Louis CK. Matt Lauer…onandonandon. Women aren’t speaking up for the first time. This isn’t anything new. Women have dealt with this since the beginning of time. What’s new is that the culture is shifting and listening. There was a crack – and the light poured in. _ The reckoning is the response to the tipping point. We as a culture must deal with what has been hidden and dismissed and denied – the accounts must be settled, the darkness brought into light. Perpetrators must get on the hook before they can be let off the hook. Redemption will come. Forgiveness too. But first, the Reckoning. _ #reckoning #sexualassault #sexualharassment #accountability #courage #vulnerability #women #men #misdeeds #light #metoo
I can only speak from the perspective of a woman who has seen it at an arm’s length away, heard horrifying stories, and endured sexual harassment first hand. I don’t need physical evidence to believe someone when they say that they have been violated, and it seems as if judgment day has finally arrived. This issue is more universal then we think and it’s time to solidify higher consequences and uplift the victims without invalidating them.
The hashtag #MeToo has helped open the conversation about sexual harassment & assault by breaking the silence and revealing its true magnitude. Too often women have had to face the pressure of fear, being accused of attention seeking, being black-balled, or good ole’ nostalgic ‘hysteria.’ In times like this, we must refer to figures like Anita Hill, an American lawyer who accused U.S Supreme Court nominee, Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, in speaking out against this inappropriate nature even in times of fear and misunderstanding.
If you’ve studied communication or psychology, you’ve probably heard about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs — a motivational theory of human needs expressed in a five-tier pyramid model. Ranging from the highest level of importance to least, the main categories are basic, psychological, and self-fulfillment. Interestingly enough, under the umbrella of basic needs, security and safety are deemed as an essential for humans.
Safety on the street and in the workplace should be given to all—regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, or disability. Catcalling is wrong, un-solicited touching or exposure is wrong, sexual misconduct is wrong — don’t do it. It’s a very simple concept, yet people both in and out of powerful roles have gone decades without bearing true consequence. It’s refreshing to see the veil being torn back and justice being made. 2017 has been the year of change and has brought so many issues to light for so many people with different backgrounds.
This is a call to speak up, regardless of how many years have passed, it was wrong 50 years ago, it is still wrong now. There is power in holding people accountable for their actions and helping create change in how we address sexual harassment and assault. This is non-negotiable behavior and breaches basic human rights. More than ever, this is a time for women to come closer, building upon a community of positivity and strength. Nothing can stop us and as long as we have each other’s back through unjust times. The more cracks we can make in that ceiling, the better chances we have of creating a safe society for the girls of our future. A note to all of those accused of sexual misconduct — Save your sorry, justice is on the way.
Written by Caela Collins
Feature image via @highstrungg