According to the Huffington Post one in three women report being sexually harassed in the workplace. Last week, all three women were people that I love.
The first was my friend, Colleen, who is studying in Washington D.C. for the semester. While talking about some arbitrary thing, she made the comment last week that it was extremely hot in D.C., too hot to be wearing pants.
“It’s too bad I can’t wear shorts.” she said with a sigh.
When I asked her why, she told me that she tried to wear them only one time. However, as she walked down the street, the number of men who yelled at her was unbearable.
She decided to never wear them again. That week, the temperatures in D.C. hit the 80s and 90s.
The second was my younger sister, who sent me an Instagram video about a woman who takes pictures with every man who cat-calls her, to document how often sexual harassment actually happens.
“That's a really good idea, we should start doing it.” her message read under the video.
This one stopped me. My sister turned 15 this year, and is a freshman in high school. How could she possibly know what this twenty-two year old woman went through?
Yet she did.
The third was probably the worst one. My other little sister Nicole, who is 19 and in her sophomore year at Kent State University called me, her voice shaking.
She told me she had just gotten off work, and two women and two men were sitting in the lobby while she had been sweeping.
One of the guys came over and said something to her so explicit that I don’t feel comfortable writing it down.
Nicole simply said “No,” and kept sweeping. The group laughed when her face turned bright red.
She didn’t want to go running to her manager for fear of being more embarrassed by the whole thing.
Having all three of these things happen during the same week really opened my eyes. I know how prevalent street harassment is from my own personal experiences, but never thought about how much it was hurting the people I love.
Just like everyone else, I have ignored it more than once. When I was at work, I would cast my eyes down and act like I didn’t hear what they said.
On the street, I would occasionally flip someone off. But more often than not, I would simply cross to the other side and mind my own business.
That has to end.
We need to stop pretending this isn’t a problem. If someone is harassing you at your workplace, tell your manager and be sure that they get kicked out.
If a customer is harassing you at a store, tell a manager.
You deserve better than that, and it’s time we stopped accepting less for ourselves.
Enough is enough.