I usually don't "go deep" on this blog, but today I want to share my thoughts on this topic which I definitely feel is a very important one.
I'm sure most of you have seen this hashtag blowing up on social media for the past couple of days. I've been spending a lot of time thinking about what actually counts as sexual harassment or sexual assault, and how I have or haven't experienced it.
My initial thought when I first read about the hashtag and the idea behind it was "Yes, of course I've experienced it". I thought about all the times I've had an unwanted hand gripping my waist on the dance floor, or even worse - trying to reach down my pants. Or the times I've had a customer comment on my looks, as if it has anything to do with how I perform at work. This summer I had a man ask me to come up to his hotel room, and another one ask me to sit on his lap while he payed this bill. Those kind of comments are totally unacceptable and it is frankly disgusting behavior. Luckily, my real life experiences are pretty mild compared to other cases of sexual harassment or assault. It still doesn't mean that they are ok.
Which brings me to my second thought, which was "I can't post this". I contemplated for so long whether my experiences of sexual harassment were severe enough to actually matter. Unfortunately this is a thought process which is very much alive in victim blaming culture, and one of the reason why victims are afraid to speak up. And I guess this is the whole message of the hashtag: anyone, man or woman, who has experienced sexual assault, harassment or injustice shouldn't have to feel like they are an inconvenience. And that's one of the reasons I wanted to share my thoughts in this post.
(By this I don't mean that victims have to come out with their stories. My cousin shared a text on her page which I completely agree with: "Reminder that if a woman didn't post #MeToo, it doesn't mean she wasn't sexually assaulted or harassed. Survivors don't owe you their story")
I also want to say that I by no means think that all men behave this way, I don't think most men do (and obviously it doesn't just have to be men who harass and women who get harassed. The main point is that it shouldn't happen). I was discussing feminism with my mother the other day when my boyfriend jokingly said "Just don't start hating me". I have so many wonderful men in my life, like my boyfriend, my father, my brother and lots of men I know from school, or work, or who are friends who I know would never act like that. I also know that there is a difference between sexual harassment and for instance flirting. Because I've had hands gripping my waist, and they have been welcomed. I've gotten flirty comments and replied back in the same manner. And in these cases I've made it very clear that I too am interested. But when I've made it clear that I'm not interested and someone won't stop touching me, that's when there's a problem. Or when I'm working and someone makes an inappropriate comment where I can't help but smile and laugh it off because I'm supposed to act professional, that is an abuse of power.
Anyways, hope you get a sense of how I'm trying to contribute to this conversation. And I do think it is important to highlight just how many women (and men) are affected by this problem.