When I was 15 years old I had the word slut written on my wall during a house party my sister threw. Guys would call me in the middle of the night and hold up the phone in the party yelling ‘who thinks Christine Jamieson is a slut’, the crowd at the party would cheer. I would sit in bed at night tears running down my face wondering why I was alive.
I wish I could tell the guys who bullied me all the harm they did. I wish I could tell them that they were the reason I didn’t speak up when I was sexually assaulted less than a year later. I had been drinking a lot to cover the demons of my illness. I couldn’t overpower the wandering hands of a stranger at a party.
I don’t blame the boys who bullied me in high school for all the sexual harassment and assault in my life, I don’t even blame them for their actions. I blame our society. It’s woven into our movies, television shows, music. I will never forget overhearing the men at my last job saying how I must have slept the way to my job and making comments on how they’d like to stick their face in my chest. It still haunts me how an ex-college at work blamed his work being late on the fact that I didn’t smile enough and how he thought I was a bitch.
Every girl in our society has a story about a cat call or an uncomfortable stare, a time a man sat across from her on the bus with a video camera thinking she wouldn’t notice, a guy who tried to slip something into her drink at a bar, or maybe even just a guy who just wouldn’t take no for an answer when you wouldn’t give him your number. There is a power dynamic in our society that we need to not only acknowledge- but actually figure out what to do about it.