As I noted in my last blog post, a lot of people have been reading my blog and my Facebook posts and then telling me their own stories of a time when they felt like they were being objectified and/or harassed. I think it is really important for people to share their harassment stories for two reasons: 1. So that people know that they are not the only people who experience this sort of behaviour, and 2. So that people get a chance to tell someone about what happened to them. A lot of people tend to keep their harassment experience stories to themselves because they are embarrassed or they think that no one will care/listen (among other reasons, I’m sure). So with the permission of some of these people, I decided to take some of these stories and write a blog about it.
Before I start, I would like to thank everyone who shared their stories with me. It was very eye opening for me and I hope that they have the same impact on my readers as they did on me. And for the purpose of keeping the blog a reasonable length, I am only going to share 3 stories, and may do another one of these at a later date.
The first story I am going to share was given to me by my mother. This happened quite some time ago, but she remembers it as if it were just yesterday, which automatically tells you that when someone is harassed, the memory sticks with them forever, no matter what it is that happened. The story reads this:
Now how much do you want to bet that this man doesn’t even remember doing that to her? He probably thought that what he did was completely harmless! But my mother (a teenager at the time) was mortified. She went home and she thought about it and clearly has never stopped thinking about that moment.
My next story is from a friend (we will call them Jamie) from school, but it takes place about 2 years ago at Toronto’s Union Station. They were waiting to pay to get on the subway when the man in front of Jamie starts giving the ticket guy a hard time (a topic for another day):
Jamie thinks the man was most likely intoxicated, probably from some sort of drug, but I don’t consider that to be any excuse for treating someone with that much disrespect. I do want to congratulate Jamie for standing up to the man. That is something that I, personally, usually never do. I usually just ignore the person and walk away, but I think that standing up for yourself is very brave, and probably more affective, although it can definitely be dangerous if the harasser is a violent person. Still, good on you, Jamie.
My last story is from my friend, Emily, who was totally all for me using her real name for this. Now Emily is currently living in Laos doing a teaching internship for the next few months (she has been gone for a few months too, miss you Em!). Anyway, she went into great detail telling me this story, so I will give you a moment to read all of it:
Again, another case of intoxication, and again, not a valid excuse to treat people like shit. Emily was really upset about this encounter, rightfully so, but apparently her friends didn’t seem to care as much. They were more upset about the man calling them American rather than the man insinuating that Emily was a “slut” and calling her a bitch, not to mention that had there not been something physically separating her from him, what he could have done to her for defending herself. Once again, some people have a reputation for become very violent when intoxicated, especially after someone tells them something that they do not want to hear. And, no offence to the girl this man was with, I highly doubt she would have stepped in to help if he had tried to physically harm Emily. I only say this because clearly she wasn’t trying to stand up for Emily when he was verbally attacking her. Now I have no doubt that Emily would have put up one hell of a fight – she is a seriously tough girl who doesn’t put up with anyone’s shit – and that hopefully one of the other people in the house would have been there to help her in an instant, but really, she should never have to. And that is the whole point.
I really hope that upon reading this blog, whether you identify as a man or a woman (or anything in between), that you realize that you are not alone when it comes to harassment and objectification, and that maybe you will reconsider the next time you feel like you need to come on to a total stranger, call someone a bitch, slut, whore etc., or even just stare at someone as they walk past.
I will plan to write another blog like this one, so if you have a story that you want to share with me and the people on my Facebook (since no one else really seems to read this but that is 100% ok with me), please inbox me and I will try to put your story in an upcoming blog.