I was 7 years old in the 3rd grade when my first kiss was robbed from me. I was in power hour for math, a program that gave student extra help after school so that they can achieve high scores on the state exams. I was an honor roll student then and didn’t need the extra help, but both my parents worked and put me in the program so that they can have more time to pick me up from school. The school was mostly empty and I had gone to the bathroom, as I was walking out, the boy pressed me against the wall and tap kissed me, I pushed him and ran towards the auditorium. He ran after me, but stopped pursuing when he realized there were people in the auditorium. I had never seen that boy in school before that day, later on I learned he was a 5th grader. Every time after that when I saw him, I would feel uncomfortable and self conscious, little did I know that that feeling would be something that I would feel almost everyday of my life till date. I don’t remember a lot of things from elementary school, but that scenario has been crystal clear in my mind.
I was in the 7th grade when a boy sexualized me for the first time. He pointed out to a group of his friends how I had a big ass. That was the first time I was catcalled it became endless. I became nervous to walk home from school down that block, because every time I did, it was comment after comment, “sweetie what’s your name?”, “Mami when can we hang out?”, “damn baby that ass is so big.” Until then, I never had paid attention to my body. Girls always look at their stomach to determine if they are fat or skinny, I never once turned around to look at myself from behind in the mirror. Then I did, and then I compared myself to other girls in school and realized that I was in fact more voluptuous in that area than most girls my age. I then had to change my route from school to home, walk an extra two blocks in order to avoid the catcalls. However, The heights at that time had guys in every corner working all year round. A new block, only meant, new comments from new guys. Everywhere I turned, I couldn’t escape it.
I started to learn to ignore it, not make eye contact, and act like I didn’t hear or see them. Which made some of them angry, going from saying sweet things to yelling, “well keep walking bitch, you are not that pretty anyways.” There was no winning.
I was 18 when I started my first internship in an accounting firm in downtown Manhattan. At the time I was in college and was intending in majoring in accounting. This was perfect; I got to get a feel of what it was like to be in a professional environment. I mostly did clerical work, but enjoyed it regardless. However, I quickly learned that sexual harassment occurred in these environments as well. The employees at this firm with which I assisted were mostly 27+ years old, and dominantly white. They would look at me as if I was a piece of their favorite dish. They seldom said anything, but every once in a while they would make comments about my body, which made me feel uncomfortable. Given that this was a professional place and I had to see these people 4 times out of the week, I did not know how to handle it. I would just smile and walk away, cursing them in my mind as I walked.
I was 19 years old taking Statistics at Baruch. I had gone to my professor because I was not doing well in my class and he had moved the date of the final by two weeks because he wanted to go on vacation with some friends to China. I had told him that the department had a set date and I needed the extra time to ensure that I would do well in his class. He looked at my grades and gave me 2 options, I could not go to the department and complain and not take the final and he would grant me a B, or I could go out with him to dinner and “have fun” as he stated and he would give me an A+ in the class. I took the first option and got a B in the class. Without realizing what his second proposition meant and how I could have sued the school for the misconduct. However, I was young, and had always been raised to not go against elders. I was too naïve and did not know the things I know now, nor had the bravery that I have now to stand up for myself.
I was 22 years old working at Lehman Brothers after having graduated with a Finance degree. I was so proud of myself, because according to what my parents told me growing up, I had made it. We go to school to get a degree, to then get a job at a company making a good salary, with medical benefits, and a 401k. I had it all. But harassment followed me there as well. I was the only Dominican girl on the whole floor, which meant that I stood out from the rest of the people there. I had to quickly learn to avoid getting coffee in the kitchen that was shared by the whole floor, as it usually consisted of men asking me out to grab a drink at the bar after work. Even after I had politely declined a few times before. See to many this may not seem like a big deal, but the amount of stress and anxiety that this puts on a woman is only something that a woman would understand.
New York State doesn’t let people carry pepper spray with them like other states do. This is something that I feel is wrong. A person should be allowed to carry it for protection. That can help save a life in the event that someone is being attacked, helping to temporarily disable the person from seeing, so that one could run away.
I was in Dunkin Donuts the other night, I had been out with friends at a bar, and decided to stop by to buy a coffee. There was an elderly man; maybe in his 50s sitting by the door, he smiled at me. I was being courteous and smiled back as I was walking out. My car was parked right in front of the store, I got in my car and I have a habit of locking the doors as soon as I sit down. Thank God for this! I was putting my coffee down in the cup holder, when I hear the sound of someone trying to open the passenger side door. I look up and the man that I had smiled at was standing there, he knocked on the door and then told me to open it. I said no. He then aggressively tried to open it again. I immediately turned the car on and drove of. It is not right for a man to think that he has rights to a woman just because she was nice to him. Men need to understand that just because a woman smiles, or is courteous, or engages in conversation with you does not mean that she likes you, and furthermore, it does not mean that it is okay to cross the line in any way!
I have a friend, Sara that frequents a bar in her neighborhood. She has been going to this location for nearly 10 years, a happy customer that loves to drink there and dance with friends. A few weeks ago, she had gone there with one of her best friends, there was a new security guard and he had striked up a conversation with Sara and her friend. They are very social girls and they engaged in conversation with this man for a while as the place was not busy and they said he was nice. The man asked to exchange numbers with Sara, she had no interest, but did not want to be rude and say no given that she goes there often. The man was named Torrence Beavers. He messaged her shortly after expressing interest in her, she then told him that she was not interested and that they could be friends. She had then gone back a few weeks later to the bar on a first date with someone. Torrence was working that night. Sara had said hello when she saw him to not be rude, but he seemed to be upset. However, Sara continued to go inside with her date and was having a few drinks and chatting. When her date excused himself to go to the restroom, Torrence had come and tried to forcefully kiss Sara. She got upset and told him that was rude and that she was with someone. He left her alone and Sara did not further think of the incident. She went on with her night dancing and enjoying her time. Around midnight however, cops had come into the bar and asked her to leave. She was confused and walked outside with the cops, she had no idea what she had done wrong. When she asked the cops what the issue was, they said that she was being kicked out for performing oral sex on the dance floor. Torrence had come to them and asked them to please remove her for this. Sara was shocked, as she had done no such thing, she asked the cops to please look at the cameras because there must have been a misunderstanding. The cops said that she had to leave right away. Sara was upset at this mistreatment and felt discriminated. She had left her Id and credit card at the bar; she had tried to go back inside to get it and also to let her date know what happened. But was arrested upon trying to enter the bar. They hand cuffed her and put her in the back of the police car. Sara was able to get her phone from her pant pocket and called me hysterically crying telling me what had happened. I felt bad because I couldn’t help as she lives in another state. I tried to calm her down, the cops eventually got in the cop car and she asked me to mute my side of the phone so that they wouldn’t know that I was on the line. I heard her asking them why was she being arrested. They told her that she was being arrested for oral sex and trespassing after they told her not to go back into the bar. She then tried to explain that she was not doing that at all. The cops laughed and stopped answering her questions. The call dropped eventually, and I did not hear the rest of the story until she called me back the next day when she had been released. She told me that when she got to the precinct the cops that had brought her in had told the other cops that were there,
“Guess what this one is in for?”
“For oral sex at a bar!”
They all started laughing. Sara was mortified, these are the people that are supposed to protect and uphold the law. Sara is a veteran, having served time in the Army and also a registered nurse working at one of the major hospitals in her town. She could not believe the way the night had turned out when she was just trying to go out on a date and enjoy her Saturday night. She was finger printed and processed through bookings then put in a cell with other woman that were waiting to be called to see a judge. She did not get to see a judge until 18 hours later. She was charged with trespassing, however the charges for oral sex were dropped as the judge felt those claims were untrue given that Sara has never been arrested for anything, and she was a veteran and a nurse, the judge felt that she did not seem like the type of woman to do such things. However, Sara now has a record, can not visit the bar in which she was a loyal customer for 10 years, all of this because Torrence could not deal with rejection. He used his power in the establishment to sabotage her night and it cost her money and shame. This is not right! Things like this could not keep happening!
Ruth George was killed in late November 2019 in Chicago, she was 19 years old and was walking to her car. She had ignored the catcalls of a man as she walked to her car, and the man got upset and followed her and killed her. Hearing this story angered me, as a woman that knows what it is like to have to deal with this on a constant basis. Ruth should not have lost her life because she chose not to pay attention to a man. She was entitled to deny any communication with anyone she chose. We need to become better as a society to bring awareness to this. Women are precious we bore life. Every man that walks this Earth was created, carried, and birthed through the womb of a woman. A man wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for us. Yes, men are needed to procreate, but a woman’s body is the vessel of life. It nourishes the embryo, gives it blood, and nutrients for it to grow into a fetus. Men need to be taught by their mother’s to respect woman from the moment they are born, and society needs to reinforce those teachings. Violence against women needs to stop, if a woman is not threatening your life, then there should be no reason for a woman to be beat, raped, or killed.
This is America, land of the free, where we are given the right to follow our dreams. But is it really? When women have to walk outside in fear, when women don’t get equal pay, when women are not respected? We need better leadership. Congress needs to pay attention to these crimes and enforce harsher punishments on these individuals that commit unjust crimes.
I know a girl that had been stalked for a few weeks at the building she lived in by a man. The man had tried to grab her in a few instances, scared she went to the local precinct with her parents to report this man, and the cops had told her that they couldn’t do anything until the man had actually assaulted her. Why do these double standards exist? Violence against women increased by 10% in NYC from 2017 to 2018.
We need to do better. Everyone has a woman in their life that they love, whether it is their mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend. Whether women are covered up, or showing skin, they are entitled to their bodies and to do with it what they want. We do not belong to men, just like men do not belong to us. I challenge every straight man to go to a gay bar, so they can know what it feels like to be hit on and feel uncomfortable. Most men would not be able to deal with that after one hour and would leave. Men do not know what it feels like, as women are not as aggressive like men are. Maybe if every men was forced to be in an uncomfortable situation at least once a week for a few hours, then maybe they can start to sympathize with women and maybe they can start to give us the respect that we deserve. The Me Too movement is a start. We need more politicians on our side, we need better laws, we need better human beings, and we need more love in this world. One person’s voice is not enough for change, but in unity we stand strong. So many people create memes and take to social media to make fun of situations that need to be taken more seriously. If you will not do it for yourself, then do it for the children you will have tomorrow. Do it for the kids that depend on us for a better tomorrow. Stop living your life with a blindfold, stop reading stories and talking about how sad it is, stop being lazy because one day those stories you read about might be closer to home than you think.