On Sexual Harassment

So I was kind of in a rush on Friday. I was all over the place on Thursday night and not only did I not pick something out to wear (easily rectified as I have dresses just for these occasions), but I completely misplaced my headphones. Of course, I didn’t think about my headphones until four minutes before I walked out the door. Then the panic set in. I could feel the headache starting as I left my house and grimly walked down the street towards the train.

 

Those who know me – or really just know of me – know that I go nowhere without my headphones and a music source at all times. I need my music to exist, to block out the inane chatter of those around me, and to protect the general public from my surly disposition (which develops once I have gone too many hours without the music). To put it into context: A conductor, whom I say hi to almost every day of my life, told me not too long ago, that he thought of speaking to me, once, when he was off duty, but that I always looked like I would punch someone in the face if they approached me. And that’s my demeanor when I have music. So…

 

I was hit on by six men (whom I was forced to verbally rebuff – UGH) and molested by five more (the last of which I snapped on and kneed in the nuts after the cowards who rode the 6 train with me just looked at me with pity in their eyes) by the time I got to work. I felt frazzled and pretty disgusting all day. I had a pretty important business meeting, which I felt like I nailed, but for hours later, I would go to the bathroom, look into the mirror and be paranoid about how I looked to those clients. I’m a little angry at myself for allowing those men to get to me, but I’m angrier at a society that allows this to happen without question. Yes, I love music, but I shouldn’t have conditioned myself to wearing headphones to deter grown men from speaking to and touching me. Granted, it doesn’t always stop them (I have a broken umbrella as proof of such), but it usually makes my day nice and uneventful.

 

…It is strange to note that I’ve also normalized sexual harassment in the workplace. I understand that lingering around my desk, and randomly giving me gifts, and watching me enough that they notice what I eat and then offer to take me to an “authentic Indian restaurant”, and comments about my appearance are sexual harassment. I’ve just learned to live with them. I can’t do much about it without causing a huge mess and being ostracized for not “appreciating the attention”, so I either ignore them, try to redirect the advances, or outright exploit them when the other two methods don’t work. Dealing with this shit is a coping mechanism. I don’t know how my mother dealt with her bosses and co-workers touching her, but I know I’d of broken a bitch’s hand the moment it grazed any part of me.

 

I had had enough on my way home when a group of guys on the 6 were like, “You think she’s DTF?” and just bought another pair of headphones because my chances of running into Keith Olbermann on the train were pretty slim. I guess the silver lining of this is that I wasn’t stabbed as my mother feared, and that I’ll have another story to tell a la Evelyn From the Internets. Well, one that isn’t as creepy as my mild stalking in a car story.

 

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