IT’S NEVER OK

kelly oxford

Kelly Oxford started this conversation and the hashtag #notokay.  This isn’t a political post.  This wasn’t my planned post for today, but it literally wrote itself and forced me to push publish.

The event that wrote the post:

On Saturday night my family exited Husky Stadium in the 4th quarter.  Riding high from a soon-to-be solid victory, there was much celebrating and the tailgating had picked up again.  Although the walk was not far, there were many pedi-cabs at the exit offering rides to fans.  They were creatively lit and many had tunes pumping from portable speakers.  As we walked through the parking lot, I couldn’t help but notice a pedi-cap with two, middle-aged males being pedaled by a young female. You know the type: belligerent, loud and intoxicated.   They directed her to their vehicle.  She stopped the cab and stood up on her pedals.  One of the men promptly smacked her ass. They both laughed. Immediately aware that my 13 year old son witnessed it all, I looked at him and asked, “Did you see that?” He replied that he had seen it all.  The only thing that came to mind-which I quickly blurted out, “It’s never OK.”   He looked at me and said, “I know, Mom.”

At first I didn’t know why it pissed me off so intensely.  It’s not like it is the first time I had ever seen a woman get slapped on the ass.  Heck, it has happened to me countless times-in bars, sporting events, on the street, on a bus.  Then it dawned on me that it was probably the first time my son had seen it.  We haven’t had an in-depth conversation about it yet, but I can only imagine his brain was working overtime to figure it all out.  And after 43 years, I finally saw that aggressive action for EXACTLY what it is:  assault.  Gone are the days that I ignore it, accept it, simply endure it, or god-forbid even pretend to like it.  I should have said something.  Not to them, but I should have said something to her.  I should have walked over to her cab and stood with her.  After they left, I should have said, “I saw what they did.  You did nothing wrong.  You were doing a job.  It is not OK.”  Dammit, I should have said something to her.

I am going to stand on a virtual box and shout this truth out loud.  Do not touch me without my consent.  Do not comment on my legs as I ride my scooter past your construction site.  Do not slow your vehicle to shout and whistle at me when I am out for a run.  Do not let your hand linger when you give me a hug.  It is not flattering.  You are not being flirtatious. I am not a willing participant.  Do not slap her ass.  And do not let my kid see you do it!  It is never OK.

While my days of getting the hoots/hollers and grabs are limited and waning (thank you gravity and middle-age), there are younger women who are unlucky enough to fill my spot.  Please tell your story.  I know you have one. Tell it here. (I’ve added one of my stories to the comments.)  Share this this post.  Talk to a young woman or a young man.  If it was your daughter on that bike, it would never be OK.  NEWS FLASH: she is someone’s daughter!

 

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4 Responses to “IT’S NEVER OK”

  1. Jodi says:

    What a powerful post Denise! When I was a financial advisor in a bank I had a customer in his seventies lean over, put a candy down the front of my shirt and say ‘Now you know what I think of when I think of you.’ That was at least 18 years ago and it still bothers me.

  2. Where is June? says:

    Walking through a large festival crowd a man cupped my butt cheek with his hand and squeezed. When I quickly turned around, he winked and smirked. I was 14.

  3. kelsie says:

    Ugh. What a couple of creeps. :( I’m sorry that she had to deal with that. I’m sure it’s not the first or last time in a job like that.
    Don’t beat yourself up about not saying something. It’s a really hard situation! I once stood up for some girls I knew when some creeps were hollering at them from a car, and was met with a “…but I like it!”
    My worst experience came when I was in college, just 17, riding the Greyhound home from college. It was an overnight ride, and I had stretched out in my seat to try to get some sleep. There was a man next to me, and he kindly (so I thought) gave me a little extra space to stretch in front of his seat. I woke up with his hand up my shirt. I had no idea what to do and felt like I couldn’t say anything – clearly it was my own fault for accepting that space and being so naive.
    It’s so hard to realize that it absolutely wasn’t, and I had no reason to feel guilty.

  4. Jill hartman says:

    Did you see the article Amber Tamblyn just wrote in The NY Times I believe? Somewhat on the same lines. If you didn’t see it look it up.

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