The night before we left for our honeymoon, we had some wedding gift money to deposit in the bank. My husband was busy packing for our trip, and asked me to go to the ATM—it was just down the block.
I looked outside of our New York City apartment and saw a group of men milling around near the ATM. So I said, “Babe, actually can you come with me? There are a bunch of guys over there, and I don’t wanna go by myself.”
His visceral, immediate reaction was, “Why not?”
I explained that I didn’t feel safe being alone, outside, at night. He came with me so I would feel better. Spoiler alert—nothing eventful happened at all. But I remember so clearly the moment when, on our walk home he stopped me and said, “Sorry—I totally see now why that would make you uncomfortable,” and then he was quiet for a while.
Let me be clear—this is not a rant about my husband. He’s probably more sensitive and pro-women’s rights than I am (he wrote this, after all).
The thing is, it never crossed his mind that a scenario like that could be a threat, and that he should adjust accordingly.
Because he’s never had to.
But I feel confident that most women reading this started to get uncomfortable by the end of the second paragraph.
Because this is our reality every. day.
From our childhoods, women are slowly, subtly, quietly given the message that this is the world we live in, and that it’s okay.
It’s in movies and in music. It’s in colloquialisms. It’s in our daily interactions. It’s everywhere—the notion that we are somehow less than, and that our objectification is part of the deal.
This notion has become so internalized that it has become a truth.
When the #MeToo movement started, at first I didn't copy/paste it on my Facebook wall. My initial thought was, “No, I've never been raped so it's never been a problem for me.” I realize how fortunate I am for that.
In actuality, I have been sexually harassed more times than I can count, felt threatened by a man on more than one occasion, been without a voice—and yet somehow in my brain that didn't register initially as a problem.
It took several hours of thought for my brain to realize, “Oh wait, I guess that was harassment.” It’s just become part of the deal.
And now, we have an onslaught of reports about various male celebrities harassing women. Not to mention the sexual assault accusations from teenagers coming forward around a Republican Senate candidate.
It’s presented as news—yet most women see it and simply think, “Um, yeah.”
Because this is our reality. An awful part of our society that has become so present that we accept it as truth, as the way it is.
So this is not new to us. What’s new is that it’s finally starting to matter.
It matters because even though he’s the one that threatened, yelled and got aggressive, we’re the ones that get blamed and labeled.
It matters because children that are sexually harassed in high school have more eating disorders, drug use and thoughts of self-harm.
It matters because people who experience sexual harassment are at a higher risk of developing physical ailments like elevated blood pressure, headaches and heart disease.
It matters because “boys will be boys” is an acceptable doctrine in a court of law.
And it matters because we are the generation to stand up and say, enough.
Boys will be boys? Fine. Then girl will be girls.
Not the way the world portrays girls—real girls, the way we actually are. Strong, smart, and very ready for this fight.
We are ready to support each other as we come forward with our stories.
We are ready to stand up for everyone, not just cis-gendered women, who has been a victim.
This is how it is right now. But not for long.