Thursday, November 16, 2017

Have Women Been Programmed to Feel Sexually Harassed?

It's a question that has come to my mind off an on, but recently it really has made me wonder. With the recent influx of allegations of sexual harassment from women (and men as well, but this article will focus on women for a reason) and the recent re-installment of the #metoo campaign, sexual harassment is on a lot of people's mind. We can't get away from it, it isn't going to get swept under the rug as it did after the Anita Hill case and so many others like it. So, I want to face it head-on with another look at it.

Sad Woman drawingby RawrImTara

Have women been programmed to feel sexually harassed?

Here's is where this question is coming from;

A couple of days ago, I was in the grocery store, minding my own business, doing my normal shopping, and I kept running into a man dressed in a business suit. When you're grocery shopping, there are times you tend to run into the same person kind of going where you're going, so, after the 3rd or 4th time, you tend to be "shopping buddies" for about 3 seconds. This was my 3rd time running into him, I was about to turn down the same aisle he was rolling past, so, he stopped, smiled, and let me through. 

Before I continue, let me explain what I was wearing to set the next instance and the mental adventure I had. I was wearing jeans and a sweater. The sweater was black, with a skull on a purple, striped background that happened to be centered across my (not so small) breasts. 

Now, back to the story, he stops, gestures for me to turn, smiles, and says, "I like your sweater, it's really cool" I smile back and say "thank you" but, I have to admit my creep radar went up about 5 points. So, here I am, traveling down aisle 8, and I begin to have a barrage of thoughts on him complimenting my sweater.

Why would he do that?
Was he looking at my breasts?
My sweater is a bit tight over my breasts, he wasn't complimenting my sweater.
What a creep looking at my tits like that!
Slump your shoulders a bit, you know they attract too much attention.
God, why did I wear this sweater to the grocery store?
Now I know why I never wear this sweater.
Wait, am I over-reacting?
Maybe he likes skulls?
Maybe he likes the color purple?
Maybe he was just actually giving me a compliment?
Oh god, why am I judging this man?
I'm a terrible person to think badly of a stranger.
What's wrong with me? I judge too quickly.
Great, I'm accusing someone of the "evilness" of being nice.
I'm such an idiot.

Yes, I had that whole conversation in my head from the beginning of aisle 8 till the end of aisle 8. Thank goodness I didn't see him again after that. Who knows where my mind would have gone. 

This brings me back to my questions, Have women been programmed to feel Sexually Harassed? Since I was a child, and I'm sure it's like this for most women, including the sad truth I've done the same to my own daughters, I was told to; "close my legs, my shorts are too short, watch what I say, don't talk to strange men, my skirt is too short, my jeans are too tight, don't be alone with men, go to the bathroom in groups, don't have to many "male" friends, men only have one thing on their mind, don't led men on, not to much eye contact......." on and on it goes, like a merry-go-round you can't stop. Basically, I was being trained to not trust men.

Even writing this, I wonder if I'm sending out the wrong signals? What if a woman reads this, and she rethinks things and trusts a man and he takes advantage of her or worse? They are just thoughts that run through my head because, yes, the #NotAllMen angers me, we know it's not all men, but, again, have we been so programmed over the centuries to feel sexually harassed around every single corner in life? Are we unfair to men to not trust them, or should we stay aware and not fully trust them to keep ourselves safe? What about our sons? Raising boys to become honest men knowing we're raising our daughters to not trust men. 

I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter if for nothing else, to help me get an answer I can feel comfortable with.

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