And it’s been so difficult to say anything about it because, while your rationale will tell you you’re not alone, you still feel like you are in this dark corner hiding. You still feel like you somehow brought it on yourself. Sometimes it’s complete strangers, sometimes it’s a loved one.
This isn’t the full story. Honestly, this is just from the last year. I have dealt with sexual harassment/assault my entire life, so telling that complete story would probably end up as a novella. However, with all of the Harvey-fucking-Weinstein bullshit, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share my experience; and I think it’s important to focus on the use of technology and social media as a vessel for abuse. If you choose to read on, you take full responsibility of the assumed and associated “trigger warning”. I’d also like to preface that I will be proceeding with minimal effort to mask identities. These are the words they chose, not me.
WE NEED TO TALK.
YOU NEED TO LISTEN.
And if you for one second try to “not all men” me, feminists everywhere will duplicate and revolt with Tiki torches. This is no place for your fragile masculinity, but you definitely need to read on. We desperately need you to listen.
Every 98 seconds in America.
What the fuck are these statistics and how can they be real in 2017? 1 in 6 women experience sexual assault at some point in their lifetime. Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. And this doesn't even account for campus statistics. This is our reality. Unfortunately, I am a statistic. This is my “Me, too”.
Can we all laugh for just one second and revel in the comic relief of dating today? It’s complete and utter bullshit. From Tinder to PornHub, we have no chance in hell. We have a President and supporting administration that refuses to take seriously what so many Americans experience daily. The world we live in sets victims up for failure. So, in putting Millennial men on blast, it’s only natural that I should start with the mild offenders first.
I don’t know who the fuck this is from high school, but someone needs to come and collect their friend. Not only do women have to endure this barrage of messages daily from random men, we are almost chastised for simply not responding.
Your voluntary compliment does not constitute any response or reaction from the recipient.
And please, do not think for one naïve second that I didn’t know exactly what you were asking. You boys used to ask me all the time if the carpet matched the drapes, and constantly complimented and grabbed my ass in the halls. My nicknames, starting in 8th grade mind you, ranged from Ginger Puss, Ghetto Booty (GB for short), Donkey Butt, Fire Crotch (FC for short), Tuna (this deserves its own excerpt, see below), the list goes on. I had to laugh with them and play it cool in fear of coming off bitchy, lame, or even worse, bothered. I couldn’t show them it bothered me. I can’t imagine how much worse it would have been if I had shown how I really felt. This all happened without technology. Without pictures on phones, without Snapchat, without Facebook, without any of the anonymity of social media. The worst that happened was you would get your house rolled (papered, toilet papered, etc.) and they would write BITCH in shaving cream on the sidewalk so it would bleach the concrete after washing it off. I cannot imagine raising kids today. It’s terrifying.
Reading Joe’s messages is nothing short of annoying as fuck. But it’s another example of how men just won’t stop. You won’t let up. Taking no for an answer is not an option. No, I don’t need new friends. I don’t need to meet you just to see in person. No. I need none of that, but thanks for offering.
Circling back to Tuna as a nickname… This was hard because it was the first time I actually needed to see a therapist for anything other than my parents getting separated back in elementary school. I had a boyfriend in 8th grade, Brian. He was a “man’s man”, as much as a 13-year-old could be. He and a friend came over one night when my friend and I were having a sleepover. We did what normal hormonal horny teenagers would do. He put his hand down my panties, and I let him. The next school day, I walked into groups of people I knew and didn’t know calling me Tuna. I wanted to die right there. Not only was I being totally embarrassed by the whole 8th grade, one of my most intimate moments was no longer intimate. It was public. My newfound sexuality was pitted against me. And again, I am reminded of my worth. Today, he has children of his own. I can only hope that he reads this and swallows his pride to realize this is not okay. This behavior has to stop. And you can help by teaching your boys how you have learned from your mistakes.
Dating apps in general are a wading pool of the ready and willing; it’s virtual cat calling. There’s zero romance, there’s no courtship, just a bunch of entitled men who are going to get it, if not from you, from someone. In these examples, we can easily see that men are awful and feel entitled to our time and our bodies, and have nothing more to offer than prepubescent flirtation or unnecessary attitude. That’s our reality.
A TALE OF TWO CASEY'S
Believe it or not, this all happened in the same night. One Casey was new, the other a repeat. New Casey wanted to amount me to nothing more than a quick bang-n-go, and had no problem sharing his sentiments. New Casey apparently DJs at some shitty bar in Deep Ellum on Tuesday nights, if you feel like saying hello for me. Pretty sure my ex also hangs out there. Fitting. Repeat Casey on the other hand, had no problem amounting me to nothing more than… well… nothing. In one night, I was reminded that regardless of my personality, my caring and understanding nature, my intelligence… none of that matters. In the end, I’m just a warm hole for the night. Yes, writing that grosses me out just as much as it probably is to read. That’s our reality.
Speaking of the ex-from-hell, we went through exactly what everyone goes through during a breakup. There’s the grey-area where you still see each other because heartbreak can convince you that really unhealthy behaviors are healthy. So, we slept together a few times. One night, I was having a breakdown and really needed him. Of course I did. Because I had convinced myself that he and I still had something; because he let me believe it. So when he didn’t answer and I asked if he was with someone, this was his response. And yet again, I’m reminded of my worth. That’s our reality.
Twenty-two. That’s how many messages you (hopefully) flipped through. He is SO LUCKY I decided to crop his name out. He can thank Facebook for displaying both first and last name in messenger. Meet Kendall. I met him on Bumble and we immediately hit it off. He was sweet, attentive and charming. So, we decided to meet in person and – for whatever reason – I felt that my birthday would be the appropriate time for adding in a new dynamic… Good God was I wrong.
I do have to quickly apologize for the language I used in the messages to him (i.e. insane, crazy). It’s not okay to presume anything about someone’s mental health, especially in a tone of insult. It was in the heat of the moment and I now know how hurtful that can be to those of you reading who struggle with mental health, myself included.
Kendall was immediately possessive and territorial. Unbeknownst to me, he left to find something to perk him up, an all too familiar episode I experienced with the ex. When he returned, he was now 6’5” and intimidating. I had to kick him out. The next morning I woke up to these messages, and for some reason thought I needed to participate. I shouldn’t have responded. I was dragged along his rollercoaster and eventually had to leave my apartment as I realized there was no mother fucking shirt that was left here. There was no shirt. I was terrified at that point knowing he was just trying to manipulate me to let him into my apartment. I gave my building’s security his picture and name, and they would text me if he showed up. That’s our reality.
And still, even through writing this narrative, I feel the guilt. I feel the shame and embarrassment. But it’s a very small sampling of what we go through every day. It doesn’t even touch on the physical assault and abuse that is experienced throughout our lives. We deserve better. Men, you need to do better. Please. Do better.
This is for those who have experienced this and come forward, and for those who have experienced worse and fear coming forward. This is for us. This is my Me, Too.