In recent times sexual harassment has been brought to light in a rushing wave through the #METOO campaign. As more and more information unfolded I found myself unable to relate to mass media exposure. I doubt the experience for these women were any less than that of those who were assaulted in the humble abodes of their own homes, but the publicity was just not there to capture it. There are plenty of not so powerful men who succeeded at doing just as much damage if not more to many unknown, unrecognized females. And so my story begins….
“Girl! You got to use what the good Lord gave you! “ Just, another ‘raw’ lesson of wisdom downloaded from my mom. If you have been following my blog, then you are quite familiar with my mother’s passive-aggressive parenting style. Sadly, her statement of cliché’s was not pointed toward my intellect but rather my outer appearance and sensuality. Thus, making sexual harassment, today’s focal topic right up there with Trump’s tweeting shenanigans a norm in my childhood household.
It is possible I suppose to recollect thousands of sexual harassment incidents that I was exposed to back in my day. But most were bushed off as , “Oh, that’s just how Uncle John is” or “Everyone has that ‘one’ family member, you know what I mean”. So, I was forced to ignore any such advancement and just keep it moving. After all, objections to the matter were met with an entourage of hand gestures “poo-pooing” my concerns away.
I learned very early on that my environment was not going to protect me from many things that children should feel safe about in the presence of adults. I never took for granted nor convinced myself to ignore any of my instincts. This practice unfortunately developed into an extreme heightened sense of danger. Sometimes warranted and sometimes not.
Regardless, I found myself quick to open my mouth like the “Body Snatchers” to expose any human from trying to pull a fast one.(a reference you would understand if you saw the movie Body Snatchers. It was quite the thriller from back in my day).
Unfortunately, this is not the typical behavior of most that have been subject to sexual harassment. In fact, most victims often turn the incident inward generating undeserved shame and fear where this type of blame never belongs.
I believe I could walk butt naked through the streets and that still does not give permission to anyone to sexually assault me. (Threaten me maybe for the disturbing the mental peace of those trying to make it across the street safely --- but alas that is a whole other matter.)
Our society and government lack horribly in support of people, especially women who have been sexually assaulted. As I reflect on my mother’s statement of encouraging me to use my sex appeal to get the things I want in life, shines a light on the normalcy her generation placed on the idea that my body features were meant to be utilized as a marketing tool for all to benefit. Hence, the idea of the process was simply a business transaction.
Course, we could blame our parents before us for most things and the cycle could continue with our children and their children thereafter. However, when you have learned better – taking responsibility for this knowledge and spreading a different message is essential. Standing up for your loved ones when they express concern, remaining aware of their body language when words are amiss, gaining the courage to speak out against the biggest most powerful abusers of all is a collective effort.
Courage and support are the indispensable keys to exposing the abuse long before it becomes an assault. Never easy – but absolutely crucial.