I was on Twitter recently and saw the whole debate on sexual harassment and what women should and shouldn’t do. Honestly, I got angrier the more I read through the threads, I can’t comprehend how some people can be completely tone deaf and ignorant of things concerning sexual harassment.
So, I will start by apologizing for the tone this article will take because even after taking a day to calm down, I still get agitated whenever the topic comes up. So it will be a little angry.
I will start by giving a story of a girl who doesn’t walk at night, I’m not talking about the middle of the night, no this girl can’t walk anywhere past 6.40 pm and if she does, she is always worried about who is around her and when she will get home. So she walks with a very fast pace that her friends always joke about.
She wasn’t always like this, there was a time she enjoyed the darkness, again she wasn’t walking in the middle of the night alone but she was comfortable with walking past 7 pm. Then something happened that changed all that, she was walking from work one time, and just a few minutes away from home, three men surrounded her.
The usual rude remarks ensued before the asked for her phone, her first instinct was to run, and after all, she wasn’t that far from home. That idea died when she saw a knife, so she gave them her phone one of them grabbed her arm, then real fear struck her, she couldn’t move, luckily it was a busy road and at that moment a group of people appeared and the men ran in the opposite direction.
The attack happened a few minutes before 7 pm.
Her saviors offered to walk her home the rest of the way but she turned them down and said she will be okay. She didn’t trust these people either and she also didn’t want anyone seeing her tears. She didn’t cry because she was afraid or relieved, no she was angry that she didn’t do anything about it, she froze and that was what annoyed her the most.
Weird considering she had just escaped possible sexual assault and instead of being mad at the attackers she was mad at herself. She should have done better considering it wasn’t happening for the first time.
No, a few months earlier she had to face another almost similar situation. This one happened in a matatu, she was with her best friend and they were minding their own business when two guys came and sat beside them.
It didn’t take long for the nasty comments and grabby hands, there was nowhere to go. They were stuck in a moving vehicle with no other empty seats so at first, she ignored them until it became too much and she stood up for herself.
They spoke up and asked the men to quit their behavior, she even pushed one of them and showed that she was not afraid of them and was willing to fight if possible. Of course, everyone else in the matatu acted like nothing was happening and didn’t offer any help.
They ended up alighting at the next possible stage but she still wonders why she had to remove herself from the situation when it should have been the attackers that were punished.
So now even when using a matatu she ensures she sits next to a woman if possible, if not she moves as soon as there is space.
However, why is it on the victim to prevent it, when will the victim shaming ever stop, I am not responsible for your lack of manners and bad behavior, I am not to blame if you are a harasser that is on you, I shouldn’t have to live my life tiptoeing around you to avoid being assaulted.
I would like to say that these are the only cases of sexual harassment I have faced but sadly this isn’t it. I would like to say that I won’t experience anymore but this is also not true, because until people acknowledge that the problem is not the victim or what they do, and realize that the problem is the person going around harassing people, nothing will change.
So no I refuse to accept that I can prevent sexual harassment by just saying no ‘calmly’ it takes more than that. My no actually has to be heard, so the mentality that no means yes or maybe is what needs to change.