… and I’ve never complained because I thought, who would care and what would happen? A slap on the wrist? A warning letter? A sympathetic nod?

Typical culture encourages women to brush inappropriate comments/actions off as a joke or even worse a compliment. And we listen because we fear retaliation.

Most women realize the risk of losing something (e.g. position, pay, or respect- just to name a few) is far more likely to happen to them as opposed to their harasser, so they pretend it never happened. Or perhaps we listen because we are conditioned to “not make waves” or “make a mountain out of a molehill.”

I’ve been on the receiving end of “minor” incidents like getting cat-called on the street, to more brazen acts of being inappropriately groped or propositioned by drunk men- and complaining to my girlfriends is the closest I’ve come to reporting it. Some will read this and say that it’s my fault for staying silent. FYI, you are part of the problem.

I clearly don’t have all the answers on how to solve a problem so deeply ingrained in our society, but a place to start (in conjunction with holding harassers accountable of course) is supporting victims who find their voice and the courage to come forward, regardless of the span of time. Victim shaming keeps others silent and only further perpetuates the culture. We can and must do better.

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