Many men do not understand this. They cannot comprehend that many women do not appreciate the attention because THEY wouldn't mind the attention, providing that it came from another woman. But, men, what would you think if it came from another man? Would it freak you out? Would it make you uncomfortable? Would it flatter you, as so many men say that they are doing when they whistle at a woman, or cat call, brush up against us or grab our asses? Somehow I don't think so.
When I was in the 8th grade, a football player laughed when he pulled my tube top (which was beneath an unbuttoned, and tied, button-up shirt) down to expose my breasts while we stood in line. I was horrified. I felt violated. I WAS violated. I reported it to a teacher. My mother reported it to the principal. She had to fight for the guy to be given one day of suspension. It left me feeling like I was less of a person than he was.
In my twenties I had a doctor, an older gentleman, who was very empathetic of my back pain due to my... over-endowment. At every visit he would pull the table out from the wall, stand behind me, and adjust my back. Well, the first time. Looking back, each time he came a little closer. Lingered a little longer with his hands. It became less of an "adjustment" and more of a back rub. He was such a kind man that even when I became uncomfortable with it I didn't say anything because I wasn't certain that I wasn't just being "sensitive" and overreacting. Then one day (and mind you this all took place over the course of a couple of years) I realized that he was leaning against me, from behind. So many women, SO MANY of us, are afraid of offending a man. Afraid of appearing "sensitive", of overreacting, of falsely accusing. Knowing that if we confront you on your behavior we will be accused of making it up, or of "flattering ourselves". So we are silent. I was silent. I struggled with the problem. How could I get out of the situation? How could I say "no, I don't want you to "adjust" my back, which actually so desperately needs it." Instead I convinced myself that I was overreacting. He was a doctor, I told myself. I was "flattering" myself. I actually heard my inner voice tell me that. Then, abruptly, I received a letter in the mail. His practice was closing. I was sad, as he was a great doctor, but also relieved.
Now, why didn't I simply change doctors? Good question. A question that I have asked myself repeatedly. The answer is interesting. Because I couldn't convince myself that I wasn't just overreacting. Women have been told, for as long as we each remember, that we are "sensitive", "emotional", and that we "overreact". Sexual misconduct, as any man will tell you (with shock in his voice) is a "serious accusation". How many times have we all heard that, spoken in a tone that says "You better be 100% certain that you are a) right and b) able to prove it. I know that most men who read this won't get that. I also know that many women will.
Many years later I began to wonder about his
Years later I looked him up on a physician rating site. I needed to know if other women had similar experiences. He lost his license due to sexual misconduct. Many women, braver than I, had come together and told their stories (which were shockingly similar to mine, and sometimes far WORSE than mine) and fought so that no other women would go through it again. I was relieved to know that I hadn't overreacted, but I was also disappointed in myself for not having had the ability to do it myself.