That brought up a memory for me that I wanted to share. Inspired by Kelly Oxford on Twitter, who is asking women to share sexual assault stories, I want to let people know just how common and pervasive this type of sexual assault is, how wrong it is, and how much things have changed so that in 2016 we can talk openly about these things and help empower other women to talk about them too.
|I didn't make this. I don't know who did, or I would credit them. It makes a nice cover photo for your social media page.|
When I was in high school, we had a big classroom for band with a hall of practice rooms off the side that went down to the choir room. I loved that space because it was where we could get away, practice our instruments, be with friends, and do something we loved. A lot of practicing and a lot of cool conversations happened in that space. One time I was in that space alone and a boy who wasn't in band was in there and came up to me, grabbed around my body so I couldn't get away, groped me in the crotch, and ran off. It happened so fast I didn't even think to fight back or scream or anything.
I knew who he was, but he wasn't a friend or someone in my world normally. He really had no business in the practice rooms at all. I remembered him and stayed away from him all through high school. Oddly, a friend of mine ran into him about a decade after high school and had a one-night-stand with him. But when she first brought him up to me as if she might date him, I was really worried I would have to face him again. I was bolder and more aware then, and I did tell her what he had done, and I think she's the only person I've told other than men who were in my life. She didn't date him, but I don't know if it was because of my revelation. I'm 43 now and I don't remember his name any more, but I still remember the moment and the feeling.
I was wary to go into the practice room areas for a long time after that and carefully watched to make sure a friend or an adult was in there as well before I would enter. I didn't tell anyone because I didn't even think of that as an option. Back then people didn't talk about consent or sexual assault the way they do now. It was a time and a place where it was OK for my drivers' ed teacher to make comments about "women drivers" when I was driving, and even though I DID complain about that, nothing happened. If someone had raped me, I would have probably reported it, but this "groping" was just a scary and embarrassing thing that happened that I kept to myself. A lot of girls have this type of thing happen and just get told "boys will be boys." But I feel bad now for not saying anything because I wonder if this happened to anyone else. I hope that practice room hallway was not an unsafe space for very many girls.
I feel lucky because I was able to move past it. The practice rooms and the hallway were usually full of people, so it didn't hinder my practicing, and I was still able to reach my goals in band. But it's not OK, and I can't believe we have a Presidential candidate, a chronological adult with a ton of money and power, laughing and joking about doing the same thing. The woman in the video was there with them unaware of what had been said about her just moments before. I keep imagining that if things had gone slightly differently, he could have tried to grab her, or maybe he did in some dressing room after the cameras went away and he took off his mic. How many times has that happened to that woman? We see women abused by men in power in Hollywood and in politics left and right. We know that sexual harassment and abuse is par for the course in Hollywood. We know that what Trump said is true on so many levels that it's sickening and it has to stop.
Before you bring up Bill Clinton, I didn't vote for him either. I don't think you can blame his wife for his misdeeds. She suffered them too; she did not commit them. All the allegations you can dig up about her are provably false and yet people continue to repeat them. She's worked diligently over her entire career to make life better and safer for women and children in this country and around the world. What happened to me was not OK and even though I knew it wasn't OK, I didn't know I could tell others then. So I'm telling you now. It's not OK.