The last couple of weeks I have been trying to deal with my feelings around the sexual abuse allegations against many of Hollywood’s famous men. I know that being sexually harassed and/or assaulted as a woman is a commonplace and daily occurrence.
Women all over the world are sadly used to being sexually harassed. We bear it because sexism has made it so that women have no choice but to deal with unwanted sexual attention from men. The reason is, even if you do speak up, chances are the men won’t be held accountable for their inappropriate behavior. This behavior is taught and reinforced in multiple cultures throughout the world. Not only are men not held accountable, women are blamed for men’s behavior.
On top of that men, (and unfortunately many women), turn a blind eye to men behaving inappropriately towards women, which leaves men feeling entitled to women. Men feeling entitled to women is an accepted norm. Every woman I have ever known has a story about sexual harassment and/or assault…EVERY WOMAN. The #MeToo movement has shown that sexual harassment and assault is a pervasive problem. Millions of women around the world have dealt with predatory men.
I am no different. I can remember unwanted sexual contact from boys starting in first grade. I remember my teachers seeing this and turning a blind eye. That’s how it begins for many women. As girls we are put in situations where boys are allowed to touch us inappropriately and adults say nothing. We don’t even know at that age that it’s not ok. And, by the reactions of the adults, we learn that it must be ok.
Even when young girls speak up they are told it had to have been what they were wearing or doing that made the boys treat them that way. This behavior is perpetuated into adulthood. Men behave badly, it is assumed to be the woman’s fault, everyone turns a blind eye, or both. The acceptance of inappropriate unwanted sexual contact has been normalized. Men in every industry are allowed to behave badly towards women (as well as girls and boys), because they know they won’t be held accountable. Men have never really been held accountable for their reprehensible actions, until now, it seems. And, now that some powerful men are being held accountable, many women are speaking out.
However wonderful this progress of men being held accountable is, many women are being triggered into reliving horrible experiences with men, experiences that deeply affect how women deal with men, especially when it comes to dating. Many women have had traumatizing experiences with men, including date rape. In fact, since basically every woman has been harassed or assaulted by a man, how is it that so many women manage to continue to date? How do you get past the trauma of sexual harassment and assault?? Honestly I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you the number of times I’ve been sexually harassed, just know it’s in the hundreds, starting somewhere around six years old and never ending.
My experience is the norm not the exception. Yet, somehow women like me still manage to date. However, these past couple of weeks have really resonated deep within me, maybe because it’s forced me to think about all the things women have to do to get past the predators.
Pedators often come in a “nice guy” package, the guy who flies under the radar, the guy that no one will ever believe is a predator, which makes dating that much harder. No man is safe. Every man has the potential to be a predator. Women know this. We navigate this dangerous ground daily. And, honestly I can’t explain how, I just know that we do. Somehow all women have developed a way to navigate the dangerous world that is men. We know these monsters are out there mixed in with the normal men. We have no way to know exactly who they are, yet we still take a chance. That’s exactly what women do each time we date a new man. We gamble.
Every man has the potential to be a sexual predator. Women navigate this danger. We have no choice. If you want to date, you have to gamble that a man you date may be a predator. Hopefully, one day this will change. Until then I encourage all women to continue to speak out and I encourage all men to start holding your fellow men accountable for this epidemic of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse.