A real, uncut transcription of this important conversation I had with a guy I met on Bumble.
10:13 PM - Monday night, in the trunk of his car.
We’re sitting in front of each other with my phone laying in the space between us.
Me: “How do you feel about the 97%?”
Him: “What’s the 97%?”
I was kind of shocked until I realized that this is something that doesn't directly affect him in the same way it affects me.
Me: “The 97% is the percentage of females that have been sexually harrassed.”
*Silently looking at each other*
Me: “How does that number make you feel?”
Him: “Kind of scared because it looks bad on us guys who just want to do something nice and take a girl out.”
Me: “I think it’s traumatizing and frustrating to see how many women have had to and still have to endure this bullshit treatment.”
Him: “97%? That’s a lot of women…”
Me: "Way too many women."
When did keeping your hands to yourself become such a problem? Didn’t we learn that when we were young?
Sexual Harassment: Uninvited sexual advances, pushing for sexual favors, and all other verbal or physical aspects of sexual nature that cause any type of discomfort.
Me: “Do you know what counts as sexual harassment?”
Him: “Not consenting.”
Me: “Not consenting to what?”
Him: “Any sexual activity. It’s making the person feel uncomfortable sexually.”
Me: “You’re right, but it also includes getting sent non-consensual images, text messages, and even getting cat-called by strangers. Unfortunately, these are more “normalized” things that have happened to me and a lot of girls I know, if not all of them.”
Him: “Okay, that makes sense. I can't even imagine what you guys feel like in those situations.”
One day in July, I went into the city with my best friend and decided I wanted to wear this new black dress I just bought. I felt beyond confident and was so excited for the day until I walked out of Grand Central Station. As soon as I stepped onto the sidewalk, multiple construction workers and older men decided they wanted to make comments, noises, and stare at me anywhere other than my face. I felt like I wanted to hide. I was 17. How fucked up is that?
To me, getting looked at and treated like an object is the worst feeling in the world.
Me: “Do you feel comfortable walking around by yourself at any time of day?”
Him: “Yeah I do.”
Me: “How do you think women feel?”
Him: “I really have no idea but I’m probably grateful and fortunate that I can walk down the street by myself without facing any sort of treatment or discomfort.”
Me: “I’ve never felt 100% comfortable walking around by myself, especially at night, because of the looks and the way men make me feel. It’s insane to think about how much I’m used to blocking these feelings and actions out when it shouldn’t even happen in the first place.”
Me: “What kind of responses do you think women receive after coming forward with sexual harassment allegations, or even talking about this topic in general?”
Him: “I hear things like...
"She shouldn’t have worn that."
"She shouldn’t have said that."
"She shouldn’t have made so many advances then."
Gaslighting at its finest.
Him: "I’m sure a lot of guys overstep when trying to make the first move and don’t set boundaries or anything.”
Me: “And that’s the fucked up part. Guys overstep (to say the least) and then put the blame on us when we don’t react the way they’d like us to. Guys assume us acting interested, wearing something that might appear scandalous (even though it’s never for them), and embracing the moment passes as consent."
There is no consent unless the question is clearly asked and verbally responded to.
Him: “Whenever any date or situation with a girl gets intimate, I’m very careful to ask things like...
"Are you okay?"
"Is this okay?"
...even if it kills the mood.”
Men, take notes.
Me: “That’s exactly what you should be doing because who gives a fuck if it kills the mood. Asking for consent, especially throughout any sexual experience, is necessary. Checking up on your partner to make sure they’re still into it is essential and the only way to make sure everyone is still completely comfortable with what's happening.”
Him: “I’ll never know firsthand but it’s scary to think that girls can’t even do something as simple as wear what they want to wear without getting harassed or commented on.”
It's definitely a thought that never leaves the back of my head. When I'm picking out my outfits, I unconsciously find myself reaching for clothes that'll cover more of my body instead of what I actually want to wear.
I'm too used to feeling uncomfortable around men in public.
All women should be respected regardless of the clothes they choose to wear on their body.
Me: “Do you think there’s an issue with how men in society are “allowed” or even encouraged to react to women?”
Him: “Yeah, I think men definitely dissociate from their morals when they throw comments and make advances towards women. That isn’t okay at all but I think to a degree, society has allowed men to continue to behave this way.”
Me: “Do you actually believe that 97% of women have been sexually harassed?”
Him: “Yes, I completely believe that.”
When it’s easy for men and women to believe that a statistic as high as 97%, there’s a deep rooted problem in society. This is not okay.
This 5 minute conversation with a guy I’d just met was special because although we didn’t know each other that well, we were able to connect through talking about a topic that’s so personal to me and so many other women.
Talking and learning from each other is the only way we can understand what’s wrong in this world, and the only way we can start to change it.
Don’t be afraid to bring up topics like sexual harassment in conversations because it’s a topic that needs to be talked about more.
Boundaries need to be set. Rules need to be laid down.
Use your voice - even if it’s shaky. Let the world and everyone in it know what’s ‘okay’ and ‘not okay’ so that we don’t need to put up with the ‘not okay’ anymore.