When I am assertive, I have been called aggressive. When I am determined or even passionate with a response I am called opinionated. I have also been told to be less responsive and keep my opinions to myself. While I am seeking to add value and have a critical eye to achieve excellence, to some I am annoyingly critical. When I challenged a rude male colleague consequently I have been told to “let it be” by my boss.
I have also been told when posting my vlogs about HR here on LinkedIn, that it is hard to concentrate on what I say watching me on the videos. I guess it can happen that we get seen as a sexual object first before we even get considered or listened to. I could keep on with ”I have been told” for hours but … honestly, let’s say it – I am actually fed up. I am tired of having to be in this constant invisible architecture of expectations about my body and what I as a 33-year-old single Spanish woman am. It seems like I cannot define what I am without having a white man – yes, I am sorry you are 99% of the times white – tell me what I can or should be.
And then, in this mash of feelings and in this very volatile world, where it seems like corona virus will vanish humankind, I was grabbed at 7 pm in the escalator that goes to Liverpool Street in London this past week. Plain sight, next to my friend, surrounded by CCTV.
He thought it was fun. The conclusion is he thought it would be fun to pinch my ass without knowing me. He as a male decided that he could make use of my body and my presence as he wished in that very moment. He just did what he wanted. Because unlike girls he has not been raised to be quiet or be composed or to be pretty. He has been encouraged to be himself.
And obviously, the version he has created of himself is accepted in society. But not mine. I have to change, adapt and mold to what people want me to be.
Poor guy, they say, he thought it was fun. So back to the escalator situation, I turned around and got the guy standing there, not ashamed nor concerned, in fact he even dared to smile at me. He was with a group of men, maybe 5, all white and dressed to go out. When I saw him smiling I lost it. I lost it because I felt abused and hurt by his arrogance. I felt powerless and I felt that he had taken something from me that very moment I could not get back. He had taken my self-respect and he had dehumanized me. His behavior triggered an emotional response and I slapped him. I am actually starting boxing classes this week to ensure my punch is more precise in the future, but I did bite back. I could have been more ladylike and focus on more verbal dialectics, but it all happened in a matter of milliseconds it was a reflex. And yes, I feel remorseful about having slapped him. Because I have been raised to believe that whilst men can solve their issues with each other with a fight. We, women, we need to talk and tell you how we feel and make you understand the logic behind our emotions, but we need to be quiet and not move and just smile.
The most fascinating part of the experience was when his friends started defending him. Initially they said he had not done anything. And here we go again, another “I have been told” I am crazy! Which women on this earth has not been called crazy or hysterical…? Of course, I am crazy, and I am so brainwashed by equality that I do not know how to differentiate between someone touching you by accident and someone grabbing you intentionally.
I explained this group of adult men that touching someone sexually without their consent is harassment. They got it in the end, in fact 2 of his friends apologized and said they were embarrassed about what he had done. But the version of the aggressor was still the same, the official version and more concerning his actual belief is and will be “he thought it was fun” and although one of his friends was trying to find him so he would apologise to me in person – I asked for an apology- he had run away. He was hiding somewhere in Liverpool Street in a little alley like a shameful little boy hoping not to be caught.
I never got my apology. And that makes me one more woman in this world that must let things be and does not even get the acknowledgement of being right and never gets the apology. And that is the big problem. We get told to let things go. To move on. Time will heal. Not all men are the same. The world today is better than 100 years ago. What were you wearing? Had you been drinking before? At least you know now you have a cute ass. All excuses that do not allow us to reflect on the obvious fact: some are raised to oppress, and others are expected to look down and accept all sorts of injustices. And not ironically at all, there is a lot to race and gender in this statement.And not ironically at all, these dynamics of social interactions/experiences are ubiquitous.
I do not think we get treated equal and I do not think it is safe to be a woman in this world. I am concerned about my niece Olivia and how many times she will have to turn around and see an entitled man insult, abuse or extra-limit himself on her. That is very much the reason I am writing this little note, because we all need to open up when we get sexualised by strangers at work and outside of work. Share our experiences and hopefully get our apology.
Feel free to share your views with me on twitter @AliciaRoy__ or LinkedIn!