I’m sitting on our brand new couch, staring at Facebook on my phone, thumb hovering over the text box to type my own post. Thinking.
Of course. Me too.
Except it might sound like a bigger deal than it is. I mean, I’ve never actually been assaulted, thank God.
I mean, there was that one guy on my first day at my new summer job who drove past me when I was walking to lunch and turned around so he could pull up next to me, call me beautiful, and ask if I wanted a ride, and when I said no thank you he said, “Come on, honey, it’s me,” and I thought if he decided he knew me then I couldn’t convince him otherwise, so I did what my mom always said to do in that situation and I did a 180 and zipped back the way I came because it takes a car longer to turn around than a person, and by the time he did turn around again (because of course he turned around again, he didn’t let it go) I was across the street and almost back inside. I didn’t eat lunch that day. But it’s not like he actually touched me.
I never went out for lunch again after that. Except in my car. Except even in my car I’m not completely safe, because there were those guys in the pickup (way to match stereotypes, boys) at the stoplight who honked at me while I was driving and tried to get me to roll down my window and then when I wouldn’t look at them they started screaming at me without caring who stared. No one really stared, though. I guess we were all used to it. But it’s not like they followed me.
Except that’s happened before, too, where I’ve noticed a car behind me making the same turns, time after time, and I’ve counted in my head and debated whether or not to actually go home, and told myself that if they make this next turn too I’m going to drive straight past the house because no way am I leading them to my sister. In those cases, you go to a police station, or a bank, somewhere well-lit with lots of cameras, and go inside where there are witnesses.
I told the Engineer all that, rattled off the safety tips I carry like the pocket knife he gave me and the mace my dad gave me, the things I hope I never have to use, the things I hope I don’t freeze up too much to use if I ever do need them. I told him all this because when we left the movie theatre the other night he asked, a little jokingly, if I really always check under the car before getting in when I’m in a dark parking lot. I told him I do it less when he’s around. Then I told him it’s not just under the car, it’s the back seat and the trunk area too, and if there ever is an intruder you’re supposed to drive straight into the next light pole because you’ll be wearing a seatbelt and odds are they won’t so you can cause a scene and maybe hurt them and people might not respond to yelling and screaming but they’ll whip out their phones for a car crash.
My new husband looked at me and said he hated that I had to know all that.
But it’s not like I’ve ever been physically attacked.
I shouldn’t make the post. I log out. Then log back in.
Except isn’t it an assault on my autonomy, on my personhood, when those frat boys honked at me when I walked to class and made me jump out of my skin? Or when that guy stroked my hair on the bus because it was crowded and he could get away with it? Or when a guy friend (who was dating my friend and who knew I was dating the Engineer) tried to get me to send him pictures, yes, those kinds of pictures, by saying it was only fair since I had the unsolicited one he’d sent?
Isn’t it an assault on my personhood to convince me that all of these things are normal, or close enough to normal that it shouldn’t count? Isn’t that the problem, that we’re supposed to hesitate, supposed to belittle our own experiences because at least it’s not x degrees worse? That’s why women are posting, because they’re sick of it.