Sunday, March 16, 2014

Women Have it Worse and that's Positively Scary (A Personal Story)

[T/W: sexual harassment, misogyny, copious swearing]

[tfw I'm not actually a cis guy--I'm a genderqueer woman--and this piece is cissexist but y'know, let's republish this anyway]

I've noticed something recently as a member of my school's Feminist Club: it sucks to be female. Holy shit does it suck to be female. Cat-calls, sexual harassment, being called overly sensitive or irrational. Seriously, it boggles my mind how women live this day in and day out without just castrating all the cis-men. Seriously. Although I do have some terrible stories related to patriarchal oppression, I HAVE TO SEARCH FOR THEM. Women, and trans people don't. It's way more common. Anyway, with this odd transition, here's a detailed account of how fucked up my school is because of the two times I got sexually harassed and I didn't bother reporting because "men don't get sexually harassed." Fun! /sarcasm

I've been seriously* sexually harassed twice. Physically and verbally once and just verbally another time. The first one was female presenting; the second person was male presenting. 

*I think I can consider some other behaviors sexual harassment like non-consensual, deliberate touching of non-sexual areas and bullying oftentimes relating to sexual content, but I'll chalk that up more towards she's a fucking asshole who thinks it's fun to touch people with SPD so they "overact" and I could get in trouble. God I hated middle school. 

So, the first story starts in AP Human Geography (a required class for freshman) or "AP HuG." I'm sitting near two misogynistic assholes. I didn't like that. One of my friends was sitting in a group of three males and one girl. I moved there on my own volition eventually. I sit next to the girl because that's the only seat left. I know her from middle school (different person, by the way), so I figure: "whatever, at least I don't have to learn a new name." 

I'm half paying attention to the teacher. For some reason--probably because we're a bunch of 14 and 15 year olds, the conversation turns really dirty and I joined in. I remember it fairly vaguely. One person is essentially trying to slut shame her by talking about her pseudo-sexual history. The conversation later turns into stuff about how--apparently--getting high right before physics class makes everything "like, make" (Not her exact words.) Essentially, everyone was trying to make everyone else really uncomfortable. One-upping everyone, she starts telling everyone at the table group that one of the people there is masturbating to the conversation. Yes, seriously. She pesters him about it. He's not, by the way, but he's pissed off. I'm sitting there thinking: "what the actual fuck?" That was Tuesday. 

Wednesdays are always longer days--40 minutes longer, in fact. That's where it turns from "holy fuck that's inappropriate" to "what the fuck?" She starts talking disparagingly about other people in a sexual manner. I'm sitting next to her again. She's the only one talking. I feel very uncomfortable as does everyone else. The hallmark of a good sexual harasser is causing discomfort. I still don't really care. She then starts saying that I'm staring at her. I'm not. I happen to be looking at the white-board at that time, which, and I cannot stress this enough, is clearly not at her. So I basically say: "no I'm fucking not." She tells me that she's going to [sex act I can't remember] to me. After a few minutes of this and the insistence of the other guys at the table that I've "got it" with a girl, or something, she touches my leg. She then proceeds to go nearer to my crotch with her hand. Now, if you know anything about me, or Autistics in general, WE HATE BEING TOUCHED ANYWHERE (without consent). I recoil and move to the far edge of my seat. I tell her "that's fucking sexual harassment, what the fucking fuck?!" She then does the same behaviors. My "friend*" tells what: "what are you gay? You totally had it!" Yeah, because obviously I'd "want it" and women are objects. THANKS GUYS. 

I move away to the back of the room (still within the area). She moves closer to me, but not able to touch me again. She's acting sexually provocative still. By sexually provocative, I mean she's STILL telling me things she "wants to do to me" and licking her lips or whatever the fuck she was doing. (I'm like 99% sure it was a fellatio reference.) Of course, out of sight from the teacher that is. In my frustration, I tell her I'm going to sue her. She replies: "oooh, can I be the lawyer?" It continues like this for basically the rest of the class period. After class, I walk up to my friend and ask "what the fuck is the deal with [name redacted]?" He replies: "oh, she's just a slut." I may have been more pissed off at that assertion than the entire incident. A, because that implies she had no control over it, and B, it implied I should just "take it." (Sound familiar?) I tell my teacher non-confidently about it, but nothing happens. There's some more to the story, but this is about it. 
*we're cool now

The second time, however, was more drawn out, so it's harder for me to remember a specific incident.I don't know this guy. He goes to my school, sure, but he's been in none of my classes. He goes to my same math tutorial, though. This would be January of last year and I'm actively questioning my sexual orientation. Am I really bisexual? On the asexual spectrum? Are some of my feelings towards guys not actually real and am I really just straight? What am I? WHAT AM I GODDAMMIT? These are not questions that provide itself with immediate answers. It should also be re-emphasized that I'm 15 at the time. 

This person thinks I'm gay. Consequently, he scored high on my gaydar, too, but that's not important to the story. He keeps badgering me about it. 

[Extra Trigger/Content Warning: mention of rape in the abstract.] 

Finally, one day, he asks me a question: "would you rather get raped by a guy or rape a girl?" Now, to most, this is inherently fucked up and most people wouldn't answer. I, however, think of really weird ethical questions a lot, so I, oddly enough, had a ready answer:  "because I believe I probably wouldn't care too much--naively and as offensive as that is--and since I know from stories on the internet and people I know that rape is a traumatic thing, being a rapist seems worse and therefore, I'd choose the former since I value other people more than me anyway. Plus, this a ludicrous question and why the fuck did you ask it?" This, OBVIOUSLY, to him at least, MUST mean I'm gay. Because there are no gay rape victims, obviously. /sarcasm He then, for some reason, declares it to everyone.

This goes on for several months. On more than one occasion he tried to tell me about his friend who "likes topping white boys." I decline, horrified. He tells me "I need to come out of the closet." Because obviously every gay man has sex with every other gay men. He continues insinuating I'm gay. By the end of this, I was pretty sure I am bisexual. I don't come out. I'm scared to give him the satisfaction of knowing I'm bisexual. I stop going to math tutorial; my grade drops in the class. Finally, by the end of it, he says that--and yes, this is an actual thing--that he wants me to do a pornography shoot with the guy mentioned earlier. (It's really fucked up.) I of course declined in disgust.  After that, for some reason, I don't cross paths with him again. THANK. FUCKING. GOD.

I never reported any of this. Sure, I told my parents, but I never reported. I never will. I don't see the point in reporting. It's not like I could get sexually harassed, anyway. And still, I'm not terribly unnerved by it. Despite all this, it's not the most unsettling thing I wanted to write about. What I really wanted to write about was my experience with restraint, seclusion, and bullying from when I was in elementary school--but that is of yet too hard to write. It will have to wait.

(Before anyone asks, I'm fine.)


  1. What strikes me is that the dynamics of sexual harassment are always the same, regardless of the gender(s) involved. It's something I've been aware of for some years, but it took reading your story to illustrate it for me. Like you, I don't feel terribly unnerved by my personal experiences with sexual harassment and rape, but it does make me very angry to think that this kind of behaviour is directed towards other people on a daily, evenly hourly basis. That far more often, it's the victim who gets blamed (which is why I think you felt you couldn't come out, knowing that it would be seen as the "reason" you got harassed - pure victim blaming).

    Thank you for writing this.

    1. Thank you for your comment. The dynamics of sexual harassment and bullying are the same in my opinion. It is all about controlling how other people think of themselves. Why waste your time constantly asserting your authority when you can make others do it for you? Sexual humiliation is no different from other forms--just a more potent tool. It makes me furious that it happens to other people and I'm so sorry you have been sexually harassed and raped!

      And yeah, I was hesitant to come out because everyone knows bisexuals can't refuse sex. /sarcasm If people knew that I was attracted to some men, then no one would care. Again, thanks for your comment and reading this!

  2. I hinted to my father that I'd been (mildly) sexually harassed by a stranger, because I wanted to see how he'd react before I told him anything about what had happened, and his response was basically that I should have reported it and that ultimately the idea is to keep myself safe by doing whatever it takes to make sure that someone else is being harassed (his suggestions for this included not going home alone after dark and calling the police if someone is sexually harassing me so that the person will leave me alone etc.)