Taylor Swift and I finally have something in common. Unfortunately, it’s not a gazillion dollars in a bank account or a svelte waistline. We’ve both been groped by men against our will. I’m sure we’ve also been willingly groped by men which gives us even more in common, but this post is about the asshats who feel entitled to grab ’em by the “insert body part.”
Specifically, I speak to the epidemic of women silencing themselves when they are publicly molested or verbally harassed by men. For some reason, WE feel ashamed when they unfurl their fingers and lay their hands where they’re not wanted. While staying at a Buddhist temple retreat in Thailand years ago, I met an American woman who told me she was groped while riding a train in Japan. Girls there face the daily trauma of predators groping them on trains. Because of social pressure to remain silent, girls do not often speak out and accuse their attackers. However, she wasn’t giving in to societal norms. She grabbed the pervert’s hand, raised it above his head and starting yelling “He’s groping me! He’s groping me!” She turned the embarrassment on its head and HE ran off the train in shame. I was so inspired by her story, I almost couldn’t wait until the next time I got groped so I could humiliate the deviant.
I didn’t have to wait very long. While traveling in Vietnam, I took a boat tour through Hue, to see the imperial capital. As a solo traveler through Asia, most of the men I met were respectful and harmless and I engaged with the locals as much as possible. The tour guide seemed nice enough and he and I were sitting at the helm of the boat as we glided down the Perfume River. During our conversation, out of nowhere, he brazenly placed his hand on my knee and squeezed it. In my gut, it felt untoward. I grabbed his hand, raised it quickly and yelled “You have no right to touch me!” The other passengers stared and he stayed away from me for the rest of the trip.
I caused a scene! A woman made a big deal about unwanted touching. Instead of internalizing shame I didn’t deserve, I placed it squarely on the degenerate who handled me without my consent. I embarrassed the shit out of him and it felt great! I didn’t beat myself afterwards like I had done in the past for letting the guy get away with it. Why should women keep quiet, our cheeks flushed with humiliation, wondering how we could have avoided the situation? Or worse yet, accepting this is something we have to live with.
At first, Taylor’s mother didn’t want to bring attention to the incident because she wanted to protect her daughter. I say bring on the attention. Grab his hand as it’s on your ass or knee and raise it above his head or point at him like a misbehaving child and then yell at the top of your lungs! It’s a reflex for women to be polite. Like covering your mouth with your hand as you laugh.
But he made the choice to lay a finger on you and now he’ll publicly pay the price. His ego is not more important than your dignity. Men take it for granted we’ll downplay the sexual assault and talk ourselves out of confronting the assailant.
As Ashley Judd said today after being touched against her will by an airport employee, speaking up can be the resolution to the everyday sexism. And if you see a woman speaking up for herself, support her – don’t look away and be complicit in her victimization.
From this picture I notice Taylor is wearing red lipstick and I own red lipstick which is one more thing we have in common.