As I'm typing, I can feel the fire rising from deep within me. I feel such rage, disappointment and vulnerability with crap like this. Most of us womxn have a story like this. A story where we were blind-sided by a "man" that thinks we owe him something. Or wants our attention. Or needs to feel powerful. There are a million excuses.
I personally have several examples. The guy that showed up one night in my dorm room with a friend of his. The guy that told me he "deserved me" and expected me to
date him. Or the guy that kept calling my cell phone - for several weeks - leaving voicemails of himself masturbating to the sound of my voice on my recorded message. This one was very unnerving for me. I deleted the first couple of voicemails, because they were so disturbing. Then I blocked him, but blocking a few years ago isn't what it is today, so I still got notifications that he called and still got his voicemails. That's when I called the police station and was told to come down to talk with an officer. I went down and stood at the desk with two officers - one was a man, the other was a woman. I told them what was happening, and then played them several voicemails. The female officer was clearly disgusted. The male officer wasn't overly compassionate, but wasn't insensitive either (a win?). They told me I couldn't file a report because there wasn't anything to report. But they took down this pervert/stalker's phone number. While I was standing there, the male officer tried calling him. There was no answer. So the officer said they would call him again. Maybe send someone over to his house, if necessary. "Scare him a little," so that he would stop doing this to me (and any other women). I asked if I could check back in later to see what he had to say, but they said that I couldn't - that they wouldn't be able to disclose the details of the conversation with me. I thanked them and left, not really feeling better, but happy that I stood up for myself.
Within a day or two, I stopped receiving masturbation voicemails. I rationalized that clearly the police had spoken with him and scared him off. Looking back, I'm not sure what happened...maybe the police did talk with him? Maybe he got tired of masturbating to my voice? Maybe lightning came down from the sky and blasted him into a million pieces (wishful thinking). Now knowing more, the police should have taken this more seriously. I should have been able to file a report. I shouldn't have had to walk away worried and wondering what will happen. Will this continue? Will he escalate?
Ever since then, I don't like listening to voicemails. Every time I see one, I get a little nervous. I'm happy that my phone now converts voicemails into text, so that I don't have feel traumatized by the simple act of listening to voicemails anymore.
As women, we carry these little bits and pieces of trauma around with us. Menageries of fear, vulnerability, patriarchy and privilege. And I'm a straight white woman - this is just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine what trans women experience. Black women. Refugee women. Women with intersectional identities and backgrounds. Harassment culture needs to stop. These tender, terrible experiences need to have fresh air and sunshine, so that we can start to address the underlying power dynamics and emotions that enable men to cling to patriarchy and privilege.
I'm DONE with this garbage. I deserve better. Women deserve better. Let's build something better...together.
Thank you to Tequilla Marie for being brave and sharing her experience with the world.