I’m Playing Their “Game” Now…

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.

So, how do we deal with situations like this?  What is an appropriate means of self-preservation, that is also socially acceptable, but won’t make you feel violated and allow it to happen?

That question is pretty loaded, and there is not one correct answer to it.  The only thing I can do, is explain what I do to make myself feel better and in control of these situations, because frankly, they happen A LOT!

One day, I was driving home with my dog.  I had just picked up Steak and Shake, and was eating fries, and talking on the phone (on bluetooth) with my boyfriend.  As I sat at a red light, I had a few fries in my hand, and I noticed a few men in a truck in the lane next to me ogling and making obscene gestures with their tongues in my direction.

My immediate emotion was anger.  How dare they look at me like I’m a piece of meat?  And how dare they think that what they are doing is appropriate?? They don’t know me.  And I would NEVER let these disgusting creatures do ANYTHING that their stupid gestures were referring to!  Ugh!

Instead of flipping them off and cursing at them, I decided to play their stupid, gross game.

I told my boyfriend to hold on, and he did.  I looked at them, picked up a fry, and licked it from bottom to top.  Then I bit it, seductively, and swallowed the rest of the fry.  Then, stared them in the eyes while licking each finger.  By the time I did that, the light turned green and I drove off.

Did I feel violated anymore? No. I had the last laugh.  I was able to take control of a situation where I felt my power was being taken away.  I took it back.

Now, I wouldn’t recommend anyone else do that if it is not something they are comfortable with.

But maybe by using techniques like that to take control of a situation that you’re being violated in could help you feel more at ease and comfortable.

Gain back the control.

In the story of my friend, I know he walked away from it.  He just walked away and left the situation. That is a great way to gain control.  Maybe another thing he could have done would have been to gently move her hand and say that he doesn’t like that.  Not swat, but to take her hand and move it.  Or express to her that this was something the didn’t like, and if she continued to disrespect him by ignoring his comments, that he would no longer humor a relationship with her.

Find your strength, in any way you can.

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