That “Me Too” hashtag circled the Internet a while ago and every day since, we have heard accounts from victims that claim this director, that governor, or this actor sexually assaulted or abused them. The accounts just keep coming and each one is more disturbing than the last.
I will admit, I have turned a blind eye to many of them because they are just so great in number. From the few I have read, I realize that sexual harassment was not something that was explained to me when I was younger.
I got the bare facts. No man should force you to have sex, and that was it. It wasn’t until reading these accounts, and the accounts of friends, that made me realize that I have faced sexual harassment several times as well.
I won’t bore you with the details of men who have cat called, or drove past me and smacked my butt but I will tell you about one incident that I had forgotten about until just this week.
When I was writing my first novel, I would visit open mic spots in the area to be inspired by the poets and poetry I heard there. I always supported them and purchased their CDs or books and it drove me crazy when I would see typos on their material. That was the beginning of me freelancing as an editor.
For one of the poets, I became his editor as well as his marketing consultant and I helped him sell his material after his shows. In one instance, I acted as his chauffeur and drove him across state lines to a gig. Afterwards, we walked to my car and he got in on the passenger side. When I opened the driver’s side door, and started to get in, I noticed that he had pulled his penis out of his pants. He didn’t say a word. He just stared at me and waited for me to make a move.
It was the most random thing ever. Be clear readers, this person and I never dated, flirted, kissed, anything. In fact, he was engaged with a baby boy at home. I was stunned and confused and felt so disrespected as I thought we had a working relationship. I got out of the car, closing the door behind me, and refused to get back in until he put his penis away.
The drive home was silent and after that, I slowly started distancing myself from him. He never brought it up or apologized and I’m sure it’s something he’s completely erased from his mind, as I had up until recently.
Because there was no physical contact, I didn’t register this as harassment at the time. I just saw it as a stupid thing that some guy tried to pull on me.
Now, I have all of these questions. What did he think would happen? What about me made him think I would be open to doing something with him? Was this his plan all along?
Those questions will never get answered as I know now that the answers are irrelevant. What matters now is that I, like all of the victims/survivors who have come forth, be honest about what happened and put the blame where it belongs: on that man who took it upon himself to put me in an uncomfortable position without any regard to me or my feelings.