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Today, I’m not dreaming about my next project or product launch.
Today I’m dreaming about the world I wish I lived in—grieving it because it seems so impossible.
Last weekend, I was sexually harassed by a man on my usual run in my neighborhood. This is not the first time something like this has happened to me, and realistically speaking, I know it probably won’t be the last.
Now, just because I am a woman, I don’t feel safe to do the one thing that’s been my best tool to keep myself sane this year. I’m witnessing the familiar thoughts, once again, popping up:
“What if he’s there again?”
“What if next time it’s even worse?”
“What if I can’t run away as fast this time?”
“What if there are more of them?”
“What is it in me that keeps attracting this into my life? What was I wearing?”
“What am I doing wrong?”
“What could I have done differently?”
The answers to those last few are obviously clear—nothing. I could not have done anything to stop that man, at that moment, from perceiving me the way he did and behaving the way he did. Nothing. That is on him.
I can (tragically) police myself and shrink myself; I can avoid places, change my lifestyle, and be even more vigilant. (And trust me, as someone constantly dealing with C-PTSD from events even worse than this one, I can’t be sure how that’s even possible.)
But this has happened to me in so many different settings, with men from all different backgrounds. So how do you practice “appropriate vigilance” as a woman? How do you navigate your safety in a world where any man could be a potential threat to your life?
This is why #NotAllMen makes no sense, obviously.
How do you navigate your own identity in relation to men—your own desires, your own freedoms—when underlying it all is this constant reminder that no matter how liberated you feel in your own skin, no matter how strong you feel in your own life, all it takes is one man to make you feel that your sense of security and strength is an illusion.
Now, there are billions of men who are physically stronger than I am. How the actual f*ck can we constantly navigate this?
I’m so tired of men seeing women as objects. I’m so tired of being a woman who has to navigate this in every relationship, in every friendly greeting with a stranger. At the grocery store, at the fuel stop, at a restaurant, in my home, at work, or on a run.
On my run—my sacred time that used to keep me sane and now scares me.
I’m grateful for the men in my life who have shown me that men can be different and that I can have a different experience with men. But, in the majority of my life experiences, most men have made me feel some combination of unsafe, objectified, untrusting, invalidated, unheard, and ultimately, resentful.
These feelings are only toxic to me, I know. But every time I think I’ve released them, there is yet another encounter with a man who won’t allow me to enjoy the peace I’ve struggled so much to find. What saddens me the most is that I know I’m not alone in this.
What do we do as fierce, assertive, strong, independent, conscious, and, sadly, vulnerable women?
Layer after layer, we accept, feel, grieve, share our experiences, make our voices heard, connect with other women who get it—we let go, and we keep trying. We keep dreaming and building the world we want to live in, one little building block at a time. No matter how many times our foundation gets trampled on and broken down, we do not give up; we do not let this broken system win.
We rise, and we run.
Well…on the days that we can, we put on those running shoes, pluck up the courage, and run. On the days when it’s too hard, I don’t know. I guess we look at how much an indoor treadmill goes for nowadays.
Let me know in the comments how you cope with this bullsh*t because damn, I’m tired of it—so tired. I’m angry because I know we deserve better. But I’m tired of saying the same thing year after year, protest after protest, “Women’s Month” after “Women’s Month.” Because it still keeps happening.
When is #EnoughIsEnough really going to mean it’s enough?
When is #TimesUp actually going to mean that time is up?