(Almost) All the Women You Know Have Been Sexually Assaulted
While I expect to hear from plenty of people that my headline is inflammatory and inaccurate, some will argue that far fewer than almost all have been assaulted and others will argue simply that all women have been.
Donald Trump’s celebration of his sexual assaults recorded in 2005 and reported first in the Washington Post have raised a cry from some women that his behavior is not that unusual, however unacceptable it may be in a presidential candidate. On Twitter, a consistent theme was that all women experience these sorts of gropings, reasonably described as sexual assaults.
Today, I asked my followers on Facebook if that was consistent with their experience. Among over 60 women who have responded, just four noted that they had not been groped or assaulted. The rest reported that they had been victims of sexual assault by strangers or colleagues. A number of them insisted that all women experience this.
Of course, my sample is not scientific. The overwhelming proportion of responses suggests to me, however, that an overwhelming proportion of women are subjected to sexual assaults.
Here’s my Facebook post:
Some on twitter have suggested that all women are occasionally groped inappropriately by strangers or work colleagues. Women, is this true?
Here is a sampling of the responses (I’m not including names in my original post but will add the names of women who ask to be named):
Is for me. Doesn’t make it okay though.
It’s happened to me a few times. I’m always amazed when it does. It’s gross.
Yes to your question about groping & statistics bear it out. Not only groped but 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime (CDC statistics). The emphasis has not been education to stop men rather than focusing on just educating women how to not get groped and assaulted. I have to conclude that there are not roving bands of repeat offenders out there but that these men are our fathers, our sons, husbands, uncles and brothers. Why do we not talk about it? The details of what has happened to some of the women in my family and circle of friends are too painful to share.
It’s happened to me at work and at bars. Once even at the gym.
Back home [in Israel] yes it was, but here in the Silicon Valley not at all.
I can’t speak for all women, but I’ve experienced it a lot.
I remember having a lab partner in 7th grade, who tried to look down my shirt ahs rub against me.
Yes, that’s true. However I reported mine and he got fired.
Yes it is true. Some of the things men have said are bad as well.
When I was working it happened on a regular basis with clients. Occasionally I’ve dealt with crappy co-workers too.
More than I’d like to admit.
Yes. It happened to me more when I was young and “hot” which apparently made it more acceptable. Now it happens rarely, it might be due to the don’t F with me gaze that I seem to unconscious wear. The change might also be age related too. It may be less acceptable now because I “look” like someone’s mom, therefore it would be inappropriate.
The world “all” not sure about that. But many yes. Including me. It happens not just at work, Association meetings and conferences, family events. That is why it is critical that men speak up when another man speaks in derogratory terms, or make lewd comments and bring that person’s name to the leaders..especially if it is a leader. The world needs strong men who honor women and their brilliance and place next to them.
Statistics are that 1 in 3 women will be a victim of sexual violence in their lifetime. Groping is sexual violence, so at least 1 in 3 have been. I have been.
I have been groped by a stranger and been exposed to by a stranger. It is THE NORM for women. We are taught to toughen up and take it, rather than disrupt others’ perfect worlds. (Jennifer Johnson)
Once in Sugarhouse Park, while running in the middle of the day. The rest is comments and looks. They look at me as though I am their property, or it’s their right to be so disrespectful to women. It’s really lame. (Cory Fox)
Grade school, Devon. I complained to my Mom & she intervened swiftly with a fierceness I have made my own. And what about the psychological cost of being always vigilant? Most women I’ve known even glance to check the back seat of their cars before getting in. Fortunately, there is a growing movement to bring empowerment-based self defense training to campuses & communities worldwide.
I watch 40 and 50 year old men basically undress and stare down my beautiful 15 year old ALL THE TIME. It is infuriating on so many levels. I’ve had my fair share of ugly things from men as well. I realize that there are so many good guys and I absolutely won’t lump all men together. But, I’m teaching my kids to change things where they can.
It happens to more people than you think. It happened so often to me that my kids told me that it was my personality that caused this. One of them even gave me “stink eye” lessons one afternoon to discourage such behavior from others. She even told me to walk like a man.
Yes. I grew up in a very chauvinistic culture. The unspoken rule is that it’s something you should get used to or feel flattered by, whether it’s groping or verbal assault. Women are objectified on daily basis everywhere.
I’d like to share all their stories, but this is a representative sample.
One friend privately shared her story.
I was sexually harassed by the owner of a company I worked for and sued and won the case. That stopped him from bringing any more liability to the company but honestly it didn’t help me reconcile what happened.
She went on to share the story of being raped by two men 25 years ago.
I am an entrepreneur now and I am constantly being challenged to overcome obstacles and fears. I was raped by 2 men 25 years ago and at the time I was blamed for meeting them at a bar and drinking with them. I reported the incident and went to the hospital for the kit. The Utah Supreme court wanted to use my case as an example for what date rape is but because I had 4 small children at home and they knew where I lived I begged them not to. I have lived with that fear and shame until about 3 months ago when I moved to SLC and began seeing the counselors at the rape recovery center. I am still learning to process and learning to be brave enough to maybe one day help others.
It is stunning to hear that she is acutely suffering after 25 years. I don’t think men appreciate the damage done by sexual violence–unless they are victims.
Some of the feedback from men includes:
This is a very painful thread to read. Not that I speak for any other man but on behalf of men who respect and honor women I am embarrassed and sorry any have experienced this. As a speaker and performer I have been groped, touched inappropriately, or propositioned, often on a per event basis, in one way or another mostly by women, but sometimes men as well. It is demeaning and humiliating – but my personality of friendliness and kindness to all doesn’t call someone out on it when they are asking for a photo or giving a compliment so I figure it’s just part of the business of being seen on stage and I’ve learned to let it slide and not dwell on it. But this whole thread makes me sad to read and I never realized it happens in every day life for women as it does in my line of work.
Unfortunately this is very common for a lot of men to be treated this way by aggressive females, but we live a society where men are not allowed to view these actions as abusive and inappropriate, or that as men, we should be flattered and accept touchy/feely women, stares and ogling and sexist comments. Our schools, churches and all civics organizations must begin to teach that this type of abuse will not be tolerated from either gender or sexual preference toward another, and must come out of DENIAL that a lot of women are every bit as predatory as men.
But the idea of men as victims and women as aggressors was a bit controversial. One woman noted, “But it is much, much more of a male phenomenon than a female one. This always comes up in discussions of this kind. It’s a false equivalency.”
Several of the women share links to other resources. RAINN, an organization that fights sexual violence, notes that nine out of ten victims of rape are women. Shockingly, for every 1,000 rapes, RAINN says only six perpetrators will go to prison (compared to 18 incarcerations for burglars). Visit rainn.org to learn more.
Donald Trump certainly didn’t intend to start a national conversation about sexual violence, but let’s hope he did–and that we can change some of the attitudes people have about it.
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