After reading an article from the New York Post, I started thinking about all the times that I was sexually harassed while driving and didn’t do anything to stop it.
In the past year, I’ve spoken to numerous friends who have experienced similar situations, and asked me about whether that was considered sexual assault. YES! It is!!
Being touched without your consent is an invasion of your privacy. Whether it is someone scratching your beard or touching your face, slapping your butt, groping, patting, grabbing, etc. All of these things that make you physically uncomfortable, or make you feel that your privacy and body have been violated is constituted as sexual assault or sexual harassment.
The problem is, a lot of times, people are too embarrassed to speak up or make a big deal about it; maybe people won’t believe them, or maybe it looks weird or they are just plain embarrassed by it. Maybe people won’t think it was such a big deal, and will think you’re being ridiculous. For example, a friend of mine approached me recently and told me a story about how a woman was playing with his beard against his will. He explicitly told her to stop and she laughed and continued to do it. What was he supposed to do? Swat her hand away? Yell? Raise his voice? Curse? Push her? No. None of those things are socially acceptable, especially when asked what prompted him to shove her or swat her hand.
If he were to respond with, “Well, she was scratching my beard and I didn’t like it…”, people would paint him as a monster or an idiot. But the problem is, she was truthfully at fault.
And he took it, worrying and trying to convince himself that what was happening wasn’t a big deal, although he was pretty torn about it for a solid few hours.
That’s not okay.