Began too early and occurs too often still
Me too, too much
The initials of Sexual Harassment are sh- as in shh, don’t say a word
Which is what I do, what I’ve always done
I take abuse with a smile, like my family taught me
In response to trauma, I used to think that I only had to master the art of letting go, but letting go can be a form of holding on when truth remains unspoken, when the teapot is denied its birthright to scream and let off steam
I act like trauma rolls off my shoulders, but I am crushed under the weight of secrets that were never my scandals to bear- my body was only the paper they wrote on, the backdrop of their drama
I didn’t think much of it at age 14 when my middle-aged boss told me I had a great ass while I was bent forward scooping ice cream
The wandering hands of men were a part of growing up, I thought
I took my baptism into womanhood with a bewildered sense of pride at first
My blossoming body offered a route out of my crippling shyness, transforming me overnight into someone interesting, special, likable
As one man said of my newly pubescent body at the county fair, ‘Your breasts are talking to me’
I felt relieved that I didn’t have to work so hard to think of things to say- my body did the heavy lifting
Physical touch with men made me feel wanted and independent from my mother who had claimed ownership of my body early on- she taught me how to live without physical boundaries, though the trauma is deep and the lesson hurts still
I wish I had spoken truth at any point on the journey of using my body and letting my body be used- my silence came at a high price
Rape followed rape like ocean waves
Nowhere was I safe from having my body violated, which is how I still feel, which is how most women feel most of the time
As a grown woman, my current boss asked me out my first day on the job- tempted me with cold beer on a hot summer’s day
I was lonely and thirsty but from a root chakra reflex I trembled and stumbled through what to say, knowing that if I didn’t get away I’d end up drunk in his bed and back on the agonizing path of regret and disempowerment, stressed about STIs and pregnancy, and flat-line depressed
My saving grace was that I was recovering from a relationship with a narcissist; my ex and I had been on a small island together and I had to choose between escaping the relationship or finishing my graduate education- I stuck it out for all the women who have had to give up their education because of men…all this to explain why my senses were heightened to the narcissistic stink of my boss as he fluffed his feathers, showing off his new convertible.
Hell no, not again. I got away clean.
I have survived countless harassments- men insisting that I take off my clothes, men touching me and then getting angry if I appear displeased, men whacking-off to me violently.
I rarely react at all, but I always notice.
I’ve been felt up, smelt up and dealt a hell of a hand, yet somehow always land on my feet
I’ve never lost a game of strip poker- I know to layer up
Yet the sexual harassment that irks me the most was the job I didn’t get because my interviewer tried to kiss me during the interview- mind you, I was pregnant, not attracted to him at all, too professional to even consider physical intimacy with a potential future boss, and too wise to kiss a complete stranger.
Strange- I keep sexual harassment in my back pocket, like a spare ace, thinking, ‘I could cost you your job at any moment if I speak the truth’
But the truth is, the truth would probably just cost me mine
Men get paid more, but women always pay
Shout it out