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THIS CAN BE A QUOTE

 

Notes from October 2017

Yesterday as I walked down the street, a boy barely 14, gave me the most lecherous stare. I glared back at him, but that only seemed to encourage him. Then my body tightened, so I raised my shopping bag to cover my chest, which finally made him look away. I should not have worn a V neck tee, I thought, and then felt enraged at myself for thinking so, for blaming myself for the lecherous stare, as if the decision to wear a regular tee-shirt had been to invoke and create the stare. Nevertheless, I kept my chest covered with the shopping bag the rest of the way home.

How did a 14 year old boy learn that this is okay? Whose persistent perverted behaviors with no shame taught him it’s okay? Our silence taught him it’s okay. Aha, we’re back to it being my fault again. It’s my fault for not speaking up, my fault for not shaming him.

It took me a while to jump on the #metoo train. I wondered if we were trivializing the experience of women who’ve been through extensive sexual abuse, such as rape or extreme molestation, by calling a lecherous stare or sleazy comment on the street a #metoo moment. I wondered if it was just another form of hyped protest that would die down too fast, the way it does when something appalling happens yet again and we rush to the streets for a few days, or to our social media statuses, we post stories and share, we connect with strangers in this beautiful way - but then we go back to our lives, and maybe something changes, but maybe nothing does.

But later that night as I fell into sleep, a part of me wondered what would happen if everyone would think like me. There would be no movement at all. I began to visualize the layers and layers of sexual harassment, in my mind. I thought angrily of the part of myself that hid behind the shopping bag earlier. The damaged part, which has remained silent so many times.


 

I wrote this somewhere in my notes in October 2017. Then, I forgot about it. Then, I launched Project Being Heard in May 2018. I talked to 15 women over six months. Then I put their truths away in a corner. In May 2019, I came across this piece again and knew it was time to come out of the corner and tell their stories. Thank you for reading.