Normalizing Sexual Harassment

Normalizing Sexual Harassment

Like many women, I’ve experienced sexual harassment during my life. I’ve also experienced sexual assault, so I’m in no mood to hear people pretend they didn’t know or are somehow shocked by allegations about someone who is a powerful individual in their line of work and known by all of them. I have no idea which ones are lying about what they either knew or heard about, but given the level of gossip in the entertainment industry, I simply do not believe that everyone who is shocked is, in fact, shocked by this predator’s behavior.

Sexual harassment is normalized in our society. Women are supposed to be grateful for the attention because after all, we’ve been waiting a lifetime for it from every man with whom we come into contact. It doesn’t matter if we know the guy or not, in his view, we better shut the fuck up and be grateful because if they have any power over us at all, they’ll use it.

I was harassed at the last business I owned with my husband and I knew better than to say anything lest I lose customers. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I spoke up and promptly lost probably a dozen customers in one fell swoop. After all, a guy has his friends. And because I didn’t play, because I wasn’t grateful for the attention, we lost business. Never mind my husband was in the next room. Never mind they needed him. I was invisible and not even the least bit useful, ungrateful bitch that I am.

It didn’t matter that I was someone’s wife or that they knew my husband. It didn’t matter that I earned a Black Belt in 1991 and that I wasn’t the safest choice to harass. It didn’t matter that sexual harassment in the workplace is actionable. Because I didn’t matter. I was a means to an end and how I felt about any of it was immaterial.

The men in question weren’t attractive or even interesting. They were pathetic and their attempts at flattery or comments about my body were skeevy and at times, pervy. Men like this never get it. Ever. They couldn’t care less about the position in which they put the woman or how uncomfortable she feels. Because it’s not about her. It’s always about them.

And as I sit here now listening to a past clip of Donald threatening to sue the women who accused him of sexual assault over the years, it brings home my decision to not speak up when harassed at my last business. Who wants the bullshit that results? When I finally did, I lost income. And when we finally shut the doors and retired, in spite of the huge change that was taking place, I honestly felt relief. Relief that I didn’t have to see these men anymore and relief that I no longer had to feel panic followed by anger that I didn’t believe I could express.

Again, we’ve normalized this behavior in our society. And for that, we should be ashamed.

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