When was your first time?
To be honest, I can’t actually remember the very first time it happened to me.
Was it the man on the factory floor that used to walk by me and whisper the things he’d like to do to me causing my face to flush red with embarrassment, not even able to lift my head to meet his gaze? He was 28. I was 16 and working my first summer job.
Was it the security guard at the mall that I worked at who continuously asked me out and after I turned him down too many times stood at the door and called me a ‘cunt’? He screamed it out across the parking lot just to make sure I heard him. I heard him loud and clear. He would stand in a hidden doorway across from my store and watch me, sometimes for my entire shift and then would follow me home. I was 20 years old and living on my own for the first time.
Was it the senior executive that told me he knew I was pregnant because my breasts had gotten so big? I hadn’t announced my pregnancy yet. There was no doubt that he enjoyed watching my cheeks flush red and seeing me blink back the tears. He never took his eyes off me as I awkwardly tried to figure out how I was supposed to respond. How was I supposed to respond?
Was it the manager who suggested giving me a specific assignment because the client liked the way I looked and that I should try and be available for drinks after work with him? I had worked so hard to prove myself at that company but in that second I felt like none of it mattered.
Was it the time I was going to my first big client meeting with my manager and I stood at the back of the elevator, red faced, as the man who came in behind me stood with his back to the door looking me up and down the entire ride up? When I squeezed my way by the man to get off the elevator he made sure to have his hands in just the right spot. My manager turned to me in shock and asked ‘what was that?’ I brushed it off and said ‘that stuff happens all the time’ because I didn’t want to make a big deal of it. But I walked into my first client meeting shaking. It was a big deal.
I have so many stories to tell and each one winds into the next. I’m not even sure which one was my first.
When did I figure out it was best to stay quiet?
I was a strong, smart, opinionated woman, so why was I afraid to use my voice? Why was I so afraid of making it a big deal?
To be honest, even now, years later, the thought of putting some of my own experiences out there, open for the world to know brings me fear. I don’t want people to know these details. I don’t want my parents to know these details.
But I’m tired.
I’m tired of trying to make things not a big deal.
I’m tired of hearing these types of stories.
I’m tired of the Harvey Weinstein’s of this world.
I’m tired of hearing the backlash afterwards.
I’m tired of people questioning what the women wore or why they didn’t say anything earlier.
Is this still a question? Why the women didn’t say anything?
I want the future to look different for my daughter. I want her to be able to go to work and do her job. Period.
I want her to go to a job and expect better.
I want her to not be afraid of making it a big deal.
It’s a big deal.
I want to change the narrative for her and the only way that I know how to do that is by talking about it.
Make this unacceptable. Make this so unacceptable that anyone who witnesses it stands up and says so.
Can we do that together? Can we change this narrative for our daughters so that one day they won’t be looking back talking about their first time?