So I went on a date this weekend and had such a weird experience, one that I know a lot of women have unfortunately experienced. From the moment I entered the car to the moment I was dropped home, I experienced sexual harassment from my date. My date gave me innocent compliments to begin with, but gradually diverted the conversation to their sexual desires with me. They expressed how I was turning them on, and how they wanted to perform sexual favors on me, and further insisting to have sex at the end of the night.
Something that is really important to me when dating is the ability to share great conversation; amongst other reasons, it’s one way to know if you guys have a good vibe or not. Good conversation also makes the other person more attractive. However, they were more interested in their sexual desires based on where the conversation kept leading to after each question. By the end of dinner, I felt somewhat uncomfortable. Repeatedly, they would disclose their intention wasn’t to pressure me but would somehow follow up with a sexual comment. It was like the whole night was built up just to have sex.
What made it uncomfortable was that in a way, they made it seem like they were entitled to getting sexual favors because they asked to take me out and covered the tab. Now, I have no problem paying for dinner or anything else for that matter. But with the suggestive comments and their assumption that they were entitled to have sex at my house, I began to feel overly pressured.
With the #MeToo movement being so significant in this era, we often think about women being victims to men relating to sexual abuse and harassment. Unconsciously, this is how I viewed the campaign. I never really considered the experiences of individuals in the LGBTQ community who have their own survivorship experience with the #MeToo campaign, until I’ve experienced it myself.
Queer individuals who live in the intersections of gender identities and expressions should have a voice and a place in the #MeToo movement. When we take a look at the intersection of LGBTQ individuals, it’s alarming that LGBTQ people of color, with disability, homeless, in prison or those who perform sex work are more likely to experience all forms of violence, abuse, and harassment.
It wasn’t built to be a viral campaign or a hashtag that is here today and forgotten tomorrow, it was a catchphrase to be used from survivor to survivor to let folks know that they were not alone and that a movement for radical healing was happening and possible.Tarana Burke
Tarana Burke, a civil rights activist from The Bronx founded the Me Too movement in 2006 to raise awareness of sexual abuse, harassment and violence of women of color in our society. 11 years later, Alyssa Milano tweeted a message to her followers requesting that if they were ever sexually harassed or assaulted to “#MeToo”. Hours later, thousands of women responded, commenting on their experiences with men. Naively, I didn’t consider that queer stories weren’t being represented until I tried to find similar experiences like my own.
SEX, UNCOMFORTABILITY, AND CONSENT
Until my experiences this weekend, I was naïve to the idea that LGBTQ individuals could be part of the #MeToo movement. As the night became more uncomfortable for me, I felt like I had to act normal and cool, as if what they were saying didn’t bother me. I consider myself to be a very strong person, but in that moment I felt like it was easier to go further than I wanted – just to avoid any discomfort on their part, or making it into something it didn’t need to be. I stood firm in my decision, but the next morning, I realized there were many women like me who didn’t make the same decision as I did.
In certain situations, feeling overly pressured can lead to doing things that you aren’t fully comfortable doing. Many individuals in these circumstances find themselves avoiding having honest conversations about what they are comfortable and uncomfortable with out of fear of causing a scene.
No means no, but so does “I’m not ready,” “Can we take a break,” “I’m not sure,” “I don’t like this”, “I’m uncomfortable,” “Let’s just chill”, and so forth.Mary Macrae Lynch
When we talk about #MeToo we need to be inclusive of Queer experiences around sexual abuse and harassment. It’s not just heterosexual, cisgender individuals that have these experiences, but LGBTQ identities as well. I didn’t understand the magnitude of my situation until I separated myself from them. The crazy part of it all is that this wasn’t a bad person. This was possibly, not being able to differentiate between sexual harassment and flirting on their part, and not feeling comfortable or safe enough to have a conversation about boundaries on mine.
I was very uncomfortable with the things they said and did, and although – or so I thought, my body language expressed that, it may have been unknowing. I felt like I shouldn’t have to be in a situation where I had to clearly say no. What I learned this past weekend was that two people can perceive the very same situation differently because of how our brains are wired. We see things based off of what we believe.
HAVE THOSE DIFFICULT CONVERSATION
Start an open dialogue that represents all identities, orientations, race, genders, and experiences around sexual harassment and abuse. Specifically relating to Queer identities, it’s important to determine the red flags in these vulnerable situations because I didn’t realize the signs until I was safely back home.
It’s important for people to understand verbal and nonverbal cues. For me, I sometimes smile or laugh out of discomfort. However it can be perceived as me being okay and consenting. Me accepting a drink or kissing someone doesn’t mean that I’m open to anything more than that. We need to emphasize on verbal consent to avoid more cases of #MeToo. We need to teach youth that being assertive when it comes to our personal boundaries is just as important as being nice.
The media doesn’t represent the experiences of the LGBTQ community who are at greater risk of being victims of sexual abuse/violence. It’s a priority to end sexual harassment and violence amongst women, but what about the unrepresented narratives of the LGBTQ community? The media is lacking visibility when it comes to marginalized groups.
We need to have the difficult conversations and come up with solutions to sexual harassment and abuse of LGBTQ and all other marginalized identities in the media, classrooms, and conference rooms, to create a climate that is inclusive to all identities and expressions. It’s also important to share that the #MeToo movement shouldn’t be gender based, but be focused on the experience of all those that experience sexual abuse and/or harassment.
Please visit the link https://metoomvmt.org/advocacy/voter/ and join the movement to bring change in policies and hold those accountable regarding sexual violence.