Tomorrow is the first of April. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the goal of this month is to raise public awareness of the issue of sexual assault and educate our community on how we can all play a part in prevention. Though it is not unusual, today I was sexually harassed. This is certainly not the first time this has happened and I am almost certain that it will not be the last time. This is a letter to men (and women who can relate), whether you are against sexual harassment/assault or not, please read and understand what I am trying to convey.
To all men,
Today I was at my local library, minding my own business. I asked to use the computer and sat down to print my flyers. The swine beside me, who was 30 years old or so, got up to stand over me and began verbally harassing me. He said things like; So hot! What a sexy woman! Whilst he made questionable noises and let out obnoxious and uncontrolled laughter. I looked at him, to be sure he was addressing these comments towards me, then did the best of my ability to stay calm and go on with my work. His hollow eyes freely scanned up and down my body, grimly. This went on for the entire time I was in his sight. I made eye contact with the other man who was sitting to my left. He didn’t stop to speak up for me but just went on with whatever he was doing. I continued to be harassed until I skimmed through my work and was ready to leave. I felt sickened as I shakily handed my money to the librarian and left as fast as I could. The swine went on shouting harassment at me until I was well out of the door and crossing the street.
This is a daily occurrence for some women and unfortunately, though not often to this extent, a common occurrence every time I leave my home. Often, it happens within my house, feeling safe behind screens, men beg for images of my body or send unsolicited images. Walking on the street, wolf whistles and catcalls come from men older than my dad and boys younger than my little brothers. To name a few, I have been touched inappropriately by my brother’s friend, stalked by a pedophile at a camp as a tween and given sleazy looks by men of all ages in supermarkets. This is not okay. This is not acceptable.
I, and probably all women, do not feel safe in the company of you. If you are not the type of man to behave in the ways I have mentioned, you are probably taken aback by that statement so let me clarify. Women are always on guard to protect themselves against something they have experienced in the past or something their family or friends has experienced. We do not know if, you, the guy walking behind us, is the type of guy that will assault or harass us. If could be any of yous’. It’s scary and uncomfortable to exist socially. Being a woman in today’s society is scary.
So, you don’t wolf whistle, catcall or behave inappropriately towards women? What can you do to help combat this very serious issue in society?
- Defend us
Let’s go back to the man in the library who didn’t say a thing in my defence. If you witness anything like I experienced today, please speak up! Honestly, that would have made me feel a lot less at risk if he would have spoken up against this harassment.
- Don’t validate a harassers behavior
You most likely wouldn’t be friends with a serial killer because you (hopefully) don’t agree with what they do. By being friends with them you would be confirming to yourself that their behavior is ‘okay’. The same goes for harassers. Of course, I don’t want you to cut off all of your friendships but please stand up for what is right and don’t continue to acquaint yourself with people who are constantly behaving in such a way. Be sure to tell them why you deserve friends of higher class.
- Don’t make women feel uncomfortable
This is an obvious one. Do not demand inappropriate request from strangers over the internet. Do not wolf whistle, catcall or give inappropriate compliments, etc.
- Spread Awareness
Share this post, write your own and have open discussions among your friends and family about such matters.
If you are still reading, you are amazing! Thank you so much for your time I hope you learnt a lesson or two from this little awareness spreader.
I would also like to strongly emphasize that, although it is not so common, men are also sexually harassed whether while they are children or as an adult. We need to raise awareness to sexual harassment and assault issues with both women and men in mind. This letter was specifically tapered towards the harassment afflicted on women by men.
The comments will be open as a safe space for anyone who would like to share their experiences with harassment or assault. What is your best advice that we can pass on to quality men so that women can gain a feeling of safety in their communities? Men, how do you react when you witness such harassment?
I love you all so so much! Thank you so much for reading! xx
– Jasmine Rose