If all women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me, too.” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.
So what would my Facebook status be? I guess it would be “Me, too…?”
Honestly, I sit here and I think about if I too have been sexually harassed or assaulted, and the answer isn’t clear – because my understanding of sexual harassment and sexual assault has been blurred.
To clearly define this, I took to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Here
, they defined sexual harassment as:
It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.
Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.
Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.
Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).
The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.
Reading this I think, ‘Ohhh shit, offensive remarks do count as sexual harassment?! But, wait…teasing and offhand comments are OK?? And how does the law define “isolated incidents that are not very serious”?’ There is a lot of grey area here – and this is only looking at sexual offenses in the workplace. Ultimately, I am not sure, in this modern world, what counts.
Let’s answer a few questions:
Have I received unwanted and unreciprocated attention? Yes. Catcalls. Honks. You know, the “normal” stuff.
Have I been named for a single part of my body? Yes, “Hey, Sweet Ass.”
Have I been touched in an unwanted way (even if just an arm wrapped around my shoulder or placed on my lower back)? Yes, especially while at bars.
Has a boss made advances at me? Yes, I was told in graphic detail of exactly how my slacks were distracting and how they would look better on the floor of my office with me naked on the desk.
Has my body been a topic of discussion for others, or have I been defined by my looks? Yes. I was once told by a man at a bar that it was OK that I quit my job and moved back in with my parents because I have “nice tits.” In fact, the third most popular search term that brought readers to FromBrownEyes in 2016 was “Tess Meyer topless.”
So, now I can see the answer has always been “Yes, I too have been sexually harassed or assaulted.” So why is it so hard for me to come to this understanding upon first reflection?
Is is because I do not want to be labeled a victim?
Is it because boys will be boys?
Is it because I have become so desensitized?
Is it because I grew up in a world where my body belonged not only to me, but to all of society to judge, behold, and take?
Is it because this is the way things have always been?
Things can no longer be this way.