Op-Ed: The continuing trauma of sexual harassment

I was an 18-year-old college freshman the first time I was groped by a man. It’s now more than 20 years later and I can still recall his hands roughly squeezing my behind, his fingers sharp and poking—I can still recall my fear. Followed by absolute incredulity that a strange man, one whom I was simply passing on the sidewalk, thought I was his to grab. That was my teenage naivete, which evaporated that night as this college boy clutched and pawed at me, liberally touching me as if I was part of his science project, there to poke and prod at will. What made him think that was allowed?

How does a little boy morph into a bullish man who thinks a woman’s body is his prerogative to grope?

After that first unwanted grab, I stupidly concluded that this man’s creepy behavior was an isolated event brought on perhaps by alcohol or college idiocy. I made excuses for this stranger when I should have yelled. I should have slammed my heel into his kneecap. I should have clawed at his face, his eyes. I am still angry at myself for letting this man get away with mauling me that evening.

But I was young. And I thought his behavior was an enigma. But then, over the years, it’s happened again. And again. And again. I can recall each and every incident in detail.

I was wearing a bell-bottomed, yellow polyester ‘70s Halloween costume. I was in the middle of a peaceful morning jog. I was walking through a crowd with a group of girlfriends, eating soft-serve ice cream. I was even once holding my date’s hand when a stranger walked by and grabbed my buttocks.

I am way beyond my days of teenage innocence and no longer think this type of aggression is rare. I am, however, astounded by the notion that some men think my body, any woman’s body, is their birthright. Is theirs to fondle and grab at will.

I don’t know what triggers this inflated sense of entitlement, but I do know this; it isn’t simply an affliction of powerful men like film producers, politicians, CEOs and Hollywood stars. It isn’t just the influential and the commanding. It’s a well-liked college boy, a professional, an athlete, a fellow gym rat, a man cruising by on a bicycle.

The men are as varied as the women they grab and pinch and fondle.

I am a casualty. Several times over.

Most of the women I know have also been on the receiving end of unwanted sexual attention or physical contact at some point in their lives. These incidents often haunt us.

Did I do something to bring it on? Will it happen again? Why didn’t I scream or punch or kick?

I don’t have a good answer. But it’s been 25 years since that first man decided I was his to grab and I am still angry at myself for not causing a ruckus. For not rightfully declaring my body my territory. For not making him think twice before doing this to somebody else.

I wish I had left a scar on him.

Because we are irrevocably changed that first time we realize that, in the eyes of some men, our bodies are not our own. Our legs, our breasts, our hips are theirs to grab.

And often, there is little we can do about it.

That is horrifying and it must stop. We all must be part of the solution. We women cannot be weak or timid or self-blaming in the face of sexual aggression.

We must speak out. Our little girls need to learn there is a time to be loud and strong and to cause a scene.

And we need our men involved in this too. We need them to take a stand. To speak up and take action when a brother or buddy or co-worker displays repulsive behavior—even if it’s just so-called, filthy “locker-room” talk.

We cannot wait and watch the vulgar attitude escalate into physical manhandling. By then, it’s too late.

He now feels entitled and powerful and omnipotent. She feels angry and afraid and powerless. We need to change that.

Sometimes I wonder if that man who first groped me decades ago now has a daughter of his own. Even in my darkest, most vindictive moments, I do not hope for her to become a victim.

It’s heartbreaking to know that even if I wanted to, I don’t have to wish for his daughter to become prey.

She likely already has.

Joelle Babula is a former journalist and currently a nurse practitioner living in Baltimore City.

122 Comments
  1. 358320 232153Fantastic post even so , I was wanting to know if you could write a litte a lot more on this subject? Id be extremely thankful should you could elaborate slightly bit further. Bless you! 12306

  2. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Genuinely rarely should i encounter a weblog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you may have hit the nail about the head. Your idea is outstanding; the problem is an element that insufficient persons are speaking intelligently about. I am delighted we came across this during my look for something with this.

  3. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Genuinely rarely should i encounter a weblog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you may have hit the nail about the head. Your idea is outstanding; the problem is an element that insufficient persons are speaking intelligently about. I am delighted we came across this during my look for something with this.

  4. 872221 450508This web-site is actually a walk-through rather than the info you desired concerning this and didnt know who to inquire about. Glimpse here, and youll definitely discover it. 944771

  5. Also I believe that mesothelioma is a uncommon form of most cancers that is generally found in those previously exposed to asbestos. Cancerous cells form while in the mesothelium, which is a protective lining which covers a lot of the body’s body organs. These cells usually form inside lining of the lungs, stomach, or the sac that really encircles one’s heart. Thanks for giving your ideas.

  6. One thing is the fact that one of the most popular incentives for utilizing your cards is a cash-back or even rebate provision. Generally, you get 1-5 back for various acquisitions. Depending on the card, you may get 1 back again on most expenditures, and 5 in return on acquisitions made from convenience stores, filling stations, grocery stores and ‘member merchants’.

  7. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you create this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz respond as I’m looking to create my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from. thanks

  8. I absolutely love your website.. Great colors & theme. Did you make this web site yourself? Please reply back as I’m hoping to create my very own website and want to find out where you got this from or exactly what the theme is called. Cheers!

  9. It is my belief that mesothelioma is most dangerous cancer. It has unusual properties. The more I look at it the more I am persuaded it does not react like a real solid cells cancer. If mesothelioma is often a rogue viral infection, in that case there is the chance for developing a vaccine plus offering vaccination to asbestos uncovered people who are really at high risk involving developing long run asbestos related malignancies. Thanks for expressing your ideas for this important health issue.

  10. Thanks for your submission. I would like to comment that the first thing you will need to conduct is determine if you really need repairing credit. To do that you will need to get your hands on a copy of your credit report. That should never be difficult, since government mandates that you are allowed to receive one no cost copy of your credit report per year. You just have to ask the right folks. You can either check out the website owned by the Federal Trade Commission or even contact one of the major credit agencies right away.

  11. It’s truly a great and useful piece of info. I am happy that you just shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Hi! Someone in my Myspace group shared this site with us so I came to look it over. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Fantastic blog and excellent design.

  13. One important thing is that if you find yourself searching for a student loan you may find that you’ll need a cosigner. There are many cases where this is correct because you might discover that you do not use a past credit ranking so the bank will require that you have someone cosign the money for you. Interesting post.

  14. 262838 45761The vacation unique deals offered are believed as a selection of possibly the most preferred and therefore within your budget all over the globe. Quite several hostels can be proudly located inside property which is accented who has striking seashores encouraging crystal-clear rivers, contingency of an Ocean. hotels compare rates 733973

  15. I think this is among the most significant info for me. And i am glad reading your article. But wanna remark on few general things, The website style is wonderful, the articles is really great : D. Good job, cheers

  16. Hi my family member! I want to say that this article is awesome, great written and come with approximately all important infos. I would like to see extra posts like this .

  17. naturally like your website but you need to check the spelling on quite a few of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling issues and I find it very bothersome to tell the truth nevertheless I will certainly come back again.

  18. One thing I want to reply to is that weightloss program fast can be carried out by the correct diet and exercise. An individual’s size not only affects the look, but also the actual quality of life. Self-esteem, depression, health risks, and physical abilities are afflicted in weight gain. It is possible to make everything right and still gain. Should this happen, a condition may be the reason. While an excessive amount of food rather than enough physical exercise are usually guilty, common medical ailments and popular prescriptions could greatly amplify size. Many thanks for your post here.

  19. Thanks a lot for sharing this with all people you actually understand what you are speaking approximately! Bookmarked. Kindly additionally consult with my site =). We could have a link change arrangement among us!

  20. The other day, while I was at work, my sister stole my iphone and tested to see if it can survive a twenty five foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now destroyed and she has 83 views. I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  21. I just want to tell you that I am just all new to blogging and site-building and truly liked you’re web site. Likely I’m planning to bookmark your website . You really come with outstanding articles. Bless you for revealing your web site.

  22. With havin so much content do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright infringement? My site has a lot of unique content I’ve either created myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my agreement. Do you know any methods to help prevent content from being ripped off? I’d truly appreciate it.

  23. I’ve been absent for some time, but now I remember why I used to love this site. Thanks, I’ll try and check back more frequently. How frequently you update your web site?

  24. Do you have a spam problem on this website; I also am a blogger, and I was curious about your situation; many of us have developed some nice methods and we are looking to swap strategies with others, please shoot me an e-mail if interested.

  25. F*ckin’ awesome issues here. I’m very glad to peer your post. Thanks so much and i am having a look ahead to touch you. Will you please drop me a mail?

  26. Wonderful paintings! That is the kind of information that are supposed to be shared across the internet. Shame on Google for not positioning this submit upper! Come on over and consult with my web site . Thanks =)

  27. Please let me know if you’re looking for a article writer for your site. You have some really great posts and I feel I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d absolutely love to write some material for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please send me an email if interested. Thank you!

  28. Hi, Neat post. There is a problem with your web site in internet explorer, would test this… IE still is the market leader and a big portion of people will miss your excellent writing due to this problem.

  29. I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see a nice blog like this one nowadays..

  30. Thanks for the ideas you talk about through this blog. In addition, a lot of young women exactly who become pregnant do not even try to get medical health insurance because they have anxiety they wouldn’t qualify. Although some states right now require that insurers provide coverage despite the pre-existing conditions. Fees on these types of guaranteed options are usually greater, but when with the high cost of medical care it may be the safer route to take to protect your financial future.

  31. Right here is the right web site for anybody who hopes to find out about this topic. You realize a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I personally would want to…HaHa). You certainly put a fresh spin on a topic which has been written about for ages. Great stuff, just excellent!

  32. hello there and thank you for your info – I’ve certainly picked up something new from right here. I did however expertise several technical issues using this website, since I experienced to reload the web site many times previous to I could get it to load correctly. I had been wondering if your hosting is OK? Not that I’m complaining, but slow loading instances times will often affect your placement in google and can damage your quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords. Anyway I’m adding this RSS to my e-mail and could look out for a lot more of your respective intriguing content. Make sure you update this again very soon..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.