You’ve probably read the news about Harvey Weinstein’s scandal somewhere lately, and how so many women have made the allegation against him. So right now, I would like to talk about sexual harassment and how I see it from my point of view.
Why? Because I’m a woman, and just like other women in the world, I’ve also been a victim of sexual harassment.
From the typical catcalling to screaming at 4AM because some random pervert in the motorbike trying to grab my boobs when I was riding my bicycle on my way to work, sadly I could tell you this sad phrase: been there, done that.
Lately, I’ve always caught in a fight with my Mom because of the clothes that I wear. I’ve gained weight significantly ever since I came back to my hometown, hence almost all of my clothes got a little tighter and shorter to my current size. And according to my Mom, it makes her feel uncomfortable as strangers tend to take time in staring at me and my body just because of what I wear.
No matter how much I love my Mom, I have to admit that my Mom doesn’t know everything about my life. Or how much the trauma I got to hide from her just so she could stop worrying about me when I was away.
Sexual Harassment and Why I Want to Talk About It
Let’s start with the definition of sexual harassment first to understand better about the topic that I am yet to talk about.
harassment (typically of a woman) in a workplace, or other professional or social situation, involving the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks.
I am not talking about sexual harassment because I’m trying to promote feminism like some others. I am talking about sexual harassment because I’ve been the victim of harassment itself, and I know that there are women out there who still hide behind this ugly truth.
I want to talk about sexual harassment because it feels so close to home. Because the term is a little way too familiar.
It is where my Mom has to scold me because she thinks I have to dress in a certain way to avoid people from catcalling me, when in fact some people would still whistle and stare at me even if I wear the modest clothes that I could get in my closet.
It is where some friends would slut-shame me as I cried over the fact that my boss trapped me into sleeping in the same room with him. Who would have cared about how I got shocked and terrified when he was trying to grope me that night? For I was the one who got into that situation, then the one to blame would have been me.
So to speak, I would like to emphasize something to get some people understood about the whole situation: yes, I have slept with a number of guys. It doesn’t mean that I’m the culprit when faced with sexual harassment.
And for that, I want people to understand that it’s not okay to normalize the rape culture just because a woman takes control of their body.
Sexual Harassment and Why It Has Nothing To Do with What I Wear
The idea to write this was when someone posted a question on one of the groups that I am a member of on Facebook. The question was this: which country that you’ve ever been and felt the most unsafe for a woman to travel alone?
So then I poured my heart out and gave the question an answer based on my personal experience: Saudi Arabia.
Yes, long before I moved to the country, everyone told me not to travel alone there. But then I had a lot of domestic layovers there that made me have to go for dinner or something else alone. That, until I got sexually harassed in a fast food restaurant, during prayer’s time.
One of the restaurant staff tried to hug me from behind when I ate alone in the family section of the restaurant in Riyadh.
I didn’t want to make a scene because it was Saudi Arabia. It’s a men’s country, where women are simply just the second citizens. To make things worse, I’m Indonesian, an immigrant who has the lower caste than Saudi people.
I heard how so many cases of sexual harassment happened with the victim ended up in jail just because the victim was both woman and immigrant. I don’t want to try the same experience, because God knows what the religion police would do to me if it happened to me?
So I tried my best to keep calm and then I went downstairs to file a complaint to the restaurant manager. And you know what happened?
Instead of taking my complaint seriously, the restaurant manager was more interested in what my nationality is. And when I told him that I’m Indonesian, he thought I would feel more comfortable if he told me that my English sounds better than most of Indonesian people living in Saudi Arabia.
Instead of getting flattered, I could only feel disgraced for being a woman and Indonesian, two things that I will never be able to change, to begin with.
And if you are one of those people who would be more interested in blaming me as a woman when things like that happened, let me tell you this: it was Saudi Arabia. I went out with my abaya and hijab attached. Then why the heck did you still think that it happened due to something that I was wearing back in the day?
Telling women what to wear would never stop sexual harassment if the rape culture mentality is still there. If anything, we should try to educate people to stop this mentality and respect people’s choice on what to wear without making them feel belittled or looked down.
Sexual Harassment and Why It’s Normal For the Victims Not to Speak Out (But It’s Okay to Do So)
For anyone who has been sexually harassed and done nothing about it, then let me tell you this: you’re not alone. And it’s so sad that there are only a few of victims that are bold enough to speak out. To let the world know that it is not right to make this incident a common event among us.
I was sexually assaulted by my former boss a few years ago when I recently graduated from university and took a job at a regional sporting event. I was too afraid to report what has happened when this man trapped me into sleeping in the same hotel room for the event. Even worse, because he tried to grope me in the middle of the night to the point I had to point out some threats about screaming and making a scene.
I didn’t report this incident formally, however I told my colleagues about what happened and even made a scene by crying over it. Only to my surprise, some of my colleagues thought I was the one to blame for what happened.
Why? Because my former boss is married with 3 freaking kids, and I said yes when he asked me out for dinner after work.
Since when saying yes for a friendly dinner is a big sin? Also, was it really my fault to think good of people, that I thought it was nothing but good intention when he asked me out for dinner?
Am I really the one to blame when I believed him to stay at the hotel because he told me that some of my colleagues also stayed there for the night so that I could share the room with them?
It didn’t occur to me that he would trap me into staying in the same room with him for the night and threated me the fact that people would slut-shame me if they found out that I stayed the night in the same room with him. And what have I got when I finally spoke out? Exactly that.
I left behind what happened to me a few years ago, but I’ve grown into a woman with so many lessons learned especially about what happened.
I’ve learned that ‘you asked for it’ is not an acceptable comment on sexual harassment because how you dress is not the sole reason why those people harass you. They’re simply just assholes, and you have the right to wear anything you want to look however you want to look.
Got slut-shamed for what has happened to you like I did? I am not a Virgin Mary, but I could totally tell the difference between the regular sex and sexual assaults that lead to rape.
I’ve had sex with numerous men, but then again it doesn’t mean it is okay for one person to grope me just because he wants to when I don’t feel like it. And if he still does, it’s something close to rape and it’s not right. Remember that.
It’s 2017, ladies… And it’s time for you to speak out for what’s right.
3 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Sexual Harassment and Why It Has Nothing To Do With What I Wear!”
Hi Marya, this is a very powerful post. You show lots of courage. Stay strong, take care.
Sexual harassment is a vet important issue, now everywhere around the world, and must be discussed. Thank you
Hi Bhavana, thank you so much.. It’s a bit hard to live as a woman to begin with, stay safe and take care to you too! :*
Thank you <3