Sexual harassment can take many forms. Whether it is over text, in person, or online it is an unacceptable practice. A little less than a year ago I 'hooked up' with a guy. We went our separate ways and I became romantically involved with someone else. He started texting me again right before Spring Break.
He very politely asked me, what I was up to over spring break, and that we should hang out*
I told him I would be spending time with my boyfriend.
He then proceeded to tell me I didn't have a boyfriend.
After reiterating the fact that I was dating someone,
He said, I don't [bleep]ing care we are hanging out.
I responded with something along the lines of: Okay, I'm just saying I will be spending most of the week with him.
To which he responded with we're hanging out and I'm going to [bleep] your brains out.
At this point, I probably should have just blocked him or ignored him. I don't believe women should have to run and hide from vulgar and abusive language to protect themselves.
Instead I said, My boyfriends got that covered.*
The awful thing is that for him to potentially grasp my position on this issue I would have had to block or ignore him. Even then, he may have continued to harass and belittle me with the ultimate goal of 'getting some tail'. At this point I continually reassured myself that it was unlikely that he would do anything. But with the fact that he knows where my apartment is, I was increasingly concerned.
He left me alone for awhile until one day, he started texting me, casually at first. But it quickly escalated to him saying things like, I shouldn't give a [bleep] about my boyfriend because he was better in pretty much every way including the size of his penis.* He without any provocation told me how big his was, and that he knew I wanted to see it. To which I politely declined, he continued to tell me I wanted to see it, which I continuously said I did not want to see it. There is a massive disconnect about the way people are treating each other in person vs through text. It has become mainstream to treat people like this as long as it is behind a screen.
So then he said, "I'm only sending it if you say you want it". To which I did not respond. He kept changing his mind as to what I had to do to see it. I continued to ignore him. Then he sent me a dick pic, with the words "Bam baby I know that got your attention" I did not respond.
He left me alone for awhile, but every few months he'd text me things like,
Only respond if your in Cleveland
to which I never responded. Until yesterday, when he sent me
Now the only reason I responded was because I had a feeling, that if I didn't confront him now, he'd never stop. Granted, this may have been a little harsh to start out with but I responded with,
Do you not get it, I'm not interested. I'm responding out of courtesy, that frankly you don't deserve, so if I so much as get the sense that you are flirting with me, I will block you.
I have no reason to take it easy with you
Haha why what am I guilty of?
What the hell are you talking about??? Look I heard thru the grapevine that you were single now and I am too.
And I was going to ask you out on a date. But say the word and I'll never contact you again
Oh I don't know all those texts I got, the dick pic, don't even get me started that was sexual harassment plain and simple.
The fact that you don't even realize that that is sexual harassment scares me, I repeatedly told you I didn't want a picture of your dick and you did it anyway.
To me the scariest part of this whole thing was the guy didn't see it as sexual harassment, until I explicitly said it, and it's not like this is new information to anyone. In all the stalls at my school there are sexual harassment and sexual assault posters. Sadly this is not even the first time this sort of unwanted sexually explicit thing has been sent to me over text message.
For whatever reason people don't realize that making those comments over text, is the same as saying them in person, which I can only hope people realize is sexual harassment. But people don't always seem to make the connection, because they are not actively saying or doing anything to someone. People need to realize that text message etiquette is the same as in person etiquette.
I've talked to several people both men and women about my reaction to this guy asking me out on a date, all of whom were informed to different degrees as to what had transpired.
The girls I talked to about it, told me way to go, and good for you.
The guys on the other hand had mixed responses; the majority of the guys I talked to, asked me if I had reported him to the school conduct board, and said I should, because it was absolutely unacceptable.
The one whose response surprised me the most, was granted not in person, but rather over text, and said, "What's wrong with him asking for a date? Maybe he wants to show you he's changed." Granted he did not see any of the conversation from that day.
My argument with that is how could I ever go out with someone who continuously disregarded my wishes, and who tells me whats best for me. Although he may have been disregarding my wishes over text, I wonder if I had been with him, if he would have forced me to see his penis in person. I have a feeling that he wouldn't have. But yet he did it over text message. So I guess the problem is that people don't realize that what they do or say to someone over text, is the same as saying or doing those things in person. The impersonal nature of Facebook, Snapchat, texting and so on is that communicating through them makes the recipient seem less real somehow, that texting something is less real then telling a person in person or even over the phone. But what everyone needs to realize is that it is the same. The feelings elicited over these impersonal mediums is in fact the same if not worse then having someone doing or telling you to your face.
So next time you send an email, a tweet, a snapchat, a text, a Facebook message, or anything else. Ask yourself would I say or do these things to the persons face, or would it be socially acceptable for me to do or say this to a person. If you wouldn't then you'd better not send it. In short text what you'd say.
What are your thought's on my story? Was I too harsh? Should I have reported him, or should I? What do you think? Also feel free to share your stories of sexual harassment with us, know its never to late to get help. Respond to us or message us on Facebook, Tweet at us @EqualityforHER using the hashtag #TextHarass Read Part II HERE
*Paraphrasing, Teal - indicates things I said Purple- indicates things he said.