Welcome to Ask April, a no-nonsense advice column focusing on what it is you can do to correct things that need correcting. While we all know much in life is out of our control, and sometimes, our reaction is all we CAN control- we really do have a lot of personal power, thankfully. Our will is just as important as the wills of others around us, and while we need to be considerate, we also need to make sure others are equally considerate of us. It is my hope that when you write in to me, asking advice, that I can help you make a good decision that somehow improves whatever situation you’ve found yourself in. As with anything I share, I recommend people don’t automatically take my word for anything, but include my advice in with the rest of the things that help them make a decision. I wish you well. Read on.
This is Observational Wisdom.
There are so many who have come forward with “Me too”, and I’ve been quiet. Not because it didn’t happen to me, but because I was not ready to talk about it.
It’s very personal, and thinking about it upsets me. Reading what other people are saying upsets me, but it also makes me happy that certain people are being held accountable now, most especially the people who have used their power to assault those they considered to be “below them”, and who nobody will believe.
I have had a lot of men put their hands on me UNINVITED over the years.
For example, I once had to be escorted back and forth wherever I walked at a pub in Arizona because some drunk boy decided to feel me up and slur at me “Oooh, sexy!”. The drummers in the bagpipe band literally babysat me that night, and once the boy saw I was not ” a stray woman”, he backed off.
I should have knocked that guy on his ass.
Is it my fault for “allowing it and not speaking up all these years”?
No, it’s not. It’s the fucker who could not keep his hands to himself.
Was it the alcohol’s fault? No, because the alcohol did not jump into asshole’s body against his will. HE chose to get that fucked up.
When I was in Phoenix, I had two men at work approach me two different ways.
One told me he wanted to talk to me when we were alone in the break room. He told me my hair, clothes, makeup, and body were everything he thought a woman should be and that I was just perfect, and he wanted me to know it.
He never touched me, and he never asked me out. He also said that in private so I had confidentiality.
It was the nicest compliment I ever got.
On the other hand, another co-worker asked me to hangout, and I had initially said yes, but then he reached down and squeezed my knee and said after work he would be “waiting” for me, and he looked deeply into my eyes. There is a way some men can send sexual energy through their hands when they do a thing like that to let you know they mean they want to fuck.
I’m no prude, but I am a Libra. The guy was sweaty, and his deodorant was wearing thin. It offended my nose, and besides that, the guy WAS separated from his wife. You notice I put the married part last. I really did not care that much about her, but that is what I went back before my shift was up, and used as excuse for cancelling our date.
He was disappointed, but it turned out, he and his wife worked things out, and he later made it a point to introduce me to her at the employee Christmas party. He always went out of his way to have my back at work no matter what. Also, at no time after that did I ever observe him to smell lacking in deodorant again, so maybe he could tell I thought he smelled bad that day.
I don’t consider either of those times a “me too” moment.
Another co-worker asked to see my new tattoo, which was at the top of my thigh, and I showed it to him, and he touched it. He did not want to SEE it. He did not just poke at it. He said “OOOOOH!” and rubbed it. However, in the next breath, he complained about the guy he had just gotten fired because they guy seduced some of my co-workers employees. This co-worker never touched me again, or hit on me.
Should I have “turned him in” for touching me? I think some would say so, but I didn’t, and I still don’t feel assaulted by him. Maybe somebody else would have.
At another job, however, I absolutely DID feel assaulted. I raised forty million kinds of hell because a co-worker approached me ON THECLOCK and in the hallway surrounded by clients, and told me he wanted to feel my tongue in his mouth. I was so shocked, that I just started yelling at him. Admin was upset with me, saying I had no business yelling at work, that what happened was not a big deal, and besides that, the man was from a completely different culture, and he could not possibly understand those things were unacceptable in America.
Yes, he fucking did, because he was sneaky about it. He whispered it in my damned ear, and was VERY embarrassed for being outed for it. Beyond that, in his country, you ask a woman’s father for permission to date her.
Needless to say, I bitched until HR agreed to “talk to him.”
I should not have had raise so much hell, and he should have been disciplined. I feel VERY assaulted by that. It was words, not touching, but the way it was delivered, and the response from admin, who was supposed to be watching out for us was unacceptable, and I can never forget it. That was definitely a “me too” moment.
Over the years, various things, including the things mentioned above have happened, and things out of the blue like men putting their hand at the small of my back have occurred. My ass has been grabbed, lovers have badmouthed me AFTER sex, whereas they were OVERLY nice beforehand. I’ve had unwanted sexual advances multiple times from the same person after I explained no, no, NO, and he kept asking for sex until I cut off communication.
There are probably things I have not thought of yet, but suffice to say, “Me too.”
I will also say, I do NOT feel sorry for any of the people losing their jobs due to their being initiators of “me too’s”. If you are feeling people up, grabbing them, trying to fuck them without their permission on the job? Yes, you ought to be fired. I don’t give a fuck what job you have, or what things you do correctly at work.
I don’t feel it is their sexual urges coming out. I feel like it’s a dominance thing. They prey on the people who is an “underling” and who they think won’t speak up, or if they do? That nobody will care, let alone believe them. You are hearing about it happening to reporters, new actresses, and other people who are not as powerful as the people doing it to them.
The sneaky man I worked with knew he could lean on his status of immigrant as a crutch, and he, and others passed me off as crazy for my “over the top reaction”. I find it ironic that no other person I met from his country has ever treated me the same way before or after his unwanted advance.
The man who kept asking for sex after I told him no multiple times after our encounter caused a terrible disaster for me One I won’t talk about. He was an instructor who was respected in his field, and I was just some nobody who was a student in one of the groups he taught seminars to. I never told anybody about what he did. I probably never will.
Now don’t think that I am saying that ASKING for sex is an issue. If people would ask and NOT touch? That would be great. What this guy did was ask and ask and ask for sex on and off over a period of a few years even after he had been told no multiple times.
THAT is harassing for sex, and not at all okay.
If he had asked for a DATE multiple times, I would not have felt harassed. But nagging for sex, especially after what he caused? Get lost, creep.
The world is changing because of brave people who have come forward, and are telling on the people who are guilty. I was not one of the people who changed anything, but I did speak up a couple of times. One of the times resulted in things that contributed to separation from mom’s whole family. Another time got me in trouble at work. A third time resulted in me being safe, of course, but once again, no consequences for the perp. I really wish I had beat the hell out of that fucker.
THIS is why people keep silent.
People help your perpetrator punish you for taking up for yourself, or else they slip by unscathed to hurt somebody else because people either don’t believe you, or they just don’t care.
Some people are NOT in the position to risk the things that come with the retaliation. It’s not out of cowardice. Some people genuinely cannot afford to lose a job or cannot emotionally handle the risk of losing family. I have taken chances anyhow, and maybe it did not always “end well for me”, but I will say, the individuals never tried their shit again.
I am seeing people with a lot of power get fired or lose jobs for things they have done to other people over the years. Misuse of power to sexually assault others isn’t going to be so easy anymore. While many of us have been speaking up over the years, we have the people who have voiced their abuse to the press, and shamed their assaulters to the world to thank. The world is changing because of them, and we are moving forward into a time where sexual assult and abuse won’t be tolerated like before.
I write this immediately following Time Magazine making the Me Too movement the Person of the Year. Naysayers immediately started jumping on people, accusing them of lying, or saying the things the perps did was not so bad. It hasn’t done a bit of good, thankfully. I hope it was worth it for these people in power to abuse their positions enough to make people mad as hell years later so they lose their jobs or positions. Just to be a creep.
It is wonderful we get to witness the demise of some of them.