k_crow: (aw jeez)
[personal profile] k_crow
I'm 37 years old. I have been dealing with harassment in one form or another for as long as I can remember. When I woke up Tuesday morning, I saw LJ posts from two different women that I know detailing some of their experiences with harassment. Thoughtful, I went about my morning, growing more sad and angry as I thought about my own list of incidences of varying severity. And debating whether or not I wanted to make a similar speaking up post. I decided to grab a quick snack for breakfast, and to go out and do the grocery shopping I had planned for the day.

Seems like a basic, normal thing, right? Just shopping for food. Going through one of our local markets, examining produce, checking the list I'd made on my phone. Three different times during the course of this, in three different parts of the store, one of the store employees was standing too close to me.

First time, I startled, but didn't think too much about it. Guy was sweeping the floor and happened to be a bit too close into my personal space. It happens. Second time, I frowned, and moved fairly quickly to a different section, knowing I was almost done with my shopping. The third time I'd just finished getting something in the bulk section, and the guy was close enough that if I'd backed up in the opposite direction from the one I took, I would've tripped over his broom.

At that point, thankfully done with my shopping, I got the hell out of there.

No, I didn't say anything, though I did glare. No, I haven't decided if I'm going to try and contact the store and report the employee. I didn't look to see what his name-tag said, though I could give a decent description, and his behavior is something he could easily deny. I'm also not going to stop shopping at that store, or going grocery shopping alone. If there's a next time, I'm snapping a picture of him with my phone, and then reporting his behavior to a manager.

I am sad and angry that crap like this does happen. That I've been trained and taught to doubt my own instincts that said something was wrong the first time I saw the guy standing behind me. I hate that I now wonder if he's done this to other women shopping there, and if my choosing to simply leave will mean he will do this to someone else. (Especially when I know the most likely answers are yes and yes.)

I've tried being the voice of warning in the past. There are people in my community that I know not to trust, and that I have passed that information along. What I have mostly received for it has been various forms of backlash, people explaining to me that the things I know about a given someone are wrong.

I know that speaking up is part of the solution. I also know that when I try to do so, even to trusted friends and partners, I feel sick inside. I get what feels like a huge lump of lead in my stomach, and I remember times where I've been disbelieved, or simply dismissed.

Talking with one of my partners tonight, he asked me what he can do, when (wish to hell I could say if) I experience harassment in the future. I asked him to listen to me, and to believe me.

Believe. Because you may not see harassing behavior. This is an excellent example of what harassment is and what it looks like, and I strongly agree with this part in particular: "...I think the way a lot of these things go down is with their own little cloak of invisibility around them. If it isn’t happening to you, you often don’t see it happening."

I also can't agree enough with this post. Harassment is about power. And yes, I can name so many things that are part of the constant barrage that grinds down my energy and my willingness to stand up, speak up, educate, and think of creative and effective ways to fight back.

I may do so in the future in a separate post. This is all I have energy to write about tonight.
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