I’ve never been raped, but . . .
You know how everything goes by so fast on your Twitter and FB feed? I saw this wonderful piece of writing, I think called, “I’ve never been raped, but . . .” which was a woman talking about the ridiculous and sad things she does every day, that no man ever has to—not only to NOT BE ASSAULTED, but to not be blamed for it just in case she is.
I am not even going to attempt to find it and repost it because it was too depressing. And I didn’t realize a lot of the stuff that I—even I—do to cooperate with a culture that will absolutely fault me if I am ever sexually assaulted.
But here’s my contribution to the Why Didn’t She Speak Up Sooner? Culture:
Some years ago, I already had a Bachelor’s Degree, a house in my name, a car payment. I was an Adult. I worked at a place where older teenagers would work side by side with adults. I was just leaving a relationship.
And, at work, an 18 year old grabbed my ass.
Of course I was startled. I was a GROWN UP. He was a teenager. What the hell? And, he reminded me very much of Eugene from Grease. He was not a Don Juan wannabe or a cool kid. He was just this nerdy lil thing. He grinned after doing it, a knowing, “Whatterya gonna do?” look.
I realized pretty quickly that it was unlikely my supervisor would do anything. In fact, as an adult who just left her partner, pretty likely my complaint would be seen as wishful thinking—she can’t keep a man, so she has fantasies for this harmless teen. So for a few days I just avoided the guy.
The part I am most ashamed of is when I decided to do . . . something.
It was not for myself. I came to the realization at some point that Eugene was using his nerdiness, in all likelihood, to do the same thing to other people. So not for myself, but for the sake of potential others, I brought it up.
Which is bullshit. Waiting to protect others but not myself is nonsense. If every assaulted woman could assert “I count!” we would have fewer serial assaulters.
But, surely the Union would have some policy about this. I didn’t want Eugene to go to jail, or even to lose his job, but a formal note in his file would have been great.
It took me days to work up the courage to speak to a supervisor. And the supervisor said, “I am sure you are mistaken. Eugene would never do that.”
I am not kidding.
I was a respected, educated, home owning adult. I was not believed. At my work place.
What would I do then? Go to the police, when my very workplace was against me?
And what do women do who are not “respectable?” Or whose assaulters, rather than being nerdy teens, are rich and famous and powerful?
The system protected a nerdy teen against a respectable adult. How in the world can any woman stand up to any man?
Eugene has gone on, so I hear, to be happily married with three daughters. If it ever happens that he makes the news as a serial rapist, what in the world will I do?
If I say, “OMG, YES! He assaulted me, too,” either I will have to re live not being believed, or I will be condemned for not bringing it up at the time.
“All that is necessary for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing.” Bull. All that is necessary for evil to flourish is for the good people to be powerless.
(PS I handled Eugene, ultimately, by telling him that if he ever touched me again I would break his nose. But I am willing to bet there are dozens of women who didn’t think of that answer. After all, I didn’t, myself, for weeks. And I was willing to do it, which I don’t think others would have been. )
(PPS I apologize to anyone named Eugene or anyone who loves someone named Eugene. I promise the next time I use the name it will be for a good person.)