When I was 22, I got what I considered a great job as a personal assistant/communications coordinator to a statewide elected official. I felt proud of my accomplishment. I was the only one of my recently college-graduated friends with that kind of job: I had health insurance and life insurance and retirement! What an adult!
BUT. It was terrible. I was treated like garbage at best, sexually harassed at worst. I was called “Blondie” in professional meetings. I was asked for pictures of me in my bathing suit (I didn’t comply). I was once told, by a man old enough to be my grandfather, that he’d like to take me to lunch so he could show me how to be a “proper secretary.” He winked at me as he said it. And on and on. I’m just scratching the surface of what I endured.
I was miserable but could never put my finger on why. I liked politics. I liked writing. I made good money for my age while all of my friends were struggling to find jobs that would cover their student loans. I should have been grateful. But I finally realized that I was miserable because the way I was treated was NOT okay. And I had to get the fuck out.
Over the weekend, I read this letter that a rape victim read during her rapist’s sentencing. It’s powerful. It rocked me to my core – it was so raw and honest and was like a punch in the gut. The woman was raped behind a dumpster, while unconscious, by Stanford student Brock Allen Turner. Two graduate students thankfully came across the assault and tackled Turner until police could arrive. And while a jury found Turner guilty of the rape, the judge sentenced him to only SIX MONTHS in a county jail because a longer stint would have “a severe impact on him.” A severe impact on HIM. Nothing for the victim. And that is NOT OKAY.
Believe me when I say that I am NOT comparing my situation to the victim of this horrendous crime. What I’m saying is this: shitty things happen all the time. Life is hard. But I think we often go about our lives accepting things that are not okay. We accept horrible treatment from people. We deal with toxic relationships and toxic jobs. We accept harassment and bullying and garbage because it seems like the easier alternative. It’s hard to speak up and say no. As a society, we accept that a rapist should only serve 6 months in jail because of how it might impact him. We shit on victims and injustice is allowed to run rampant.
And truthfully I think we become immune to bad situations. We compartmentalize: there are bills to be paid and we have to feed our families and run to the grocery 5 times a week and get the oil changed and conquer the laundry and be able to sleep at night so we can do it all over again the next day. We deal with shitty things because we think we have to… but we don’t. No one has to give you permission to say something is wrong. Speak up. Be strong and stand firm.
I can’t live in a world where I believe these things will never change. That it will never get better. This cannot be the precedent that we set. Where an unconscious woman is blamed for her rape. Where the rapist is the victim. How do we stop this from happening? I don’t know. I pray that one day our outrage will be heard and felt and that the world will stop telling us to not drink too much or put on the wrong lipstick or wear our shorts too short or forget a bra lest we “confuse” or “distract” men because God knows the justice system is not going to protect us. WE must continue to speak up. We must continue to shout and protest and fight because we’re in this together – one of us cannot do it alone.
What are your thoughts on this? What can we do?It's NOT okay. Click To Tweet