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SEXUAL HARASSMENT:

A Real Problem That Should Not be Ignored

May 15, 2019 | ISSUE 10

By Changchang Liu

 

My Personal Story

Last summer, I was standing in front of the Macy’s on Roosevelt Ave., waiting for Q12 bus like I usually do when going to school. That time, I was taking the bus to my friend’s home. It was very crowded around the 7 train station. I was talking to my friend on the phone, so I did not pay a lot of attention to the passersby. Then I saw someone is getting close to me with my peripheral vision. I looked up, and there was a latino man walking towards to me, I thought he wants to ask for directions. But when he came to me, he quickly extended his right hand, and grabbed my waist, and walked away. All the sudden, I can’t realize what was just happened, I felt very confused and shocked. I just watched him walk away, and I can’t do anything. I looked around, and it seem like no one saw what was happened. 

Then this winter, the same thing happened to me again at the same place. I remembered it was a cold raining morning, I wore a black fat coat, and a scarf that covered my face. I was organizing my umbrella, waiting for the bus to get to school, and there was a man walking past me. When he walked near me, he leaned his body at me, and blowed a kiss. It happened very suddenly, I couldn’t even find him when I turned around. There are many people there waiting for the bus as me, even some students that from my school, but everybody were looking at their phone. I don’t know if they didn’t see it, or they did but ignored.

I have encountered such things many times. On the way home or going to school, there are always guys that blow me kisses, or say something to me that makes me feel uncomfortable. I feel despair because these kind of things keep happened to me, and I think there are a lot young girls that have same experiences with me. This series of events left a deep impression on me, people’s behavior and has caused a big impact on my daily life. it is not just an annoyance, it is scary and I really want to find a way to stop it.

The #MeToo Movement

In 2013, famous American singer Taylor Swift started her world tour for her fourth album “Red.” Before the show, there is a meet & greet with people who come to see the concert and be selected can go to the background to see Taylor.

DJ David Muller was taking photos with Taylor Swift on the meet & greet. When taking the photo, David picked up Taylor’s skirt and grabbed her butt. After the photo is over, Taylor told her security team that she got sexual harassed by a man. The security team found David during the concert, and drive them out of the event venue. Then Taylor reported him to the local radio station where he was working at and he got fired. Two years later, David sued Taylor for defamation. He advocated that it was his colleague who went to Taylor’s concert and did bad thing to her, and Taylor’s report made him lose his job. He demanded Taylor to compensate three million dollars. In October, Taylor counterclaimed David.

In July 14th, 2016, Taylor’s attorney required to not taking videos during the decision, but the judge rejected the requirement. This means that Taylor will be stating the whole process of her sexual harassment in front of the camera. Taylor described this conduct as “humiliating” and “outrageous” (Gardner). Luckily, there were photos from that day of the incident which was important evidence for Taylor. In  August 14th, Taylor win the case. The jury ruled that David’s crime of sexual harassment is established, and Taylor received a dollar of compensation (Levenson).

Other incidents of sexual harassment started to come out and the #MeToo movement was created when American actress Alyssa Milano accused movie producer Harvey Weinstein for sexual assault on multiple actress. 

She called on all women who were sexually assaulted to post their experiences with a “MeToo” hashtag on social media. After a year, there are 19 millions tweets that used “MeToo” hashtag, tons of people bravely shared their stories of being sexual harassed and sexual assault, including celebrities like Lady Gaga, Anna Paquin, Evan Rachel Wood (Brown). The MeToo movement has sparked extensive discussions on sexual harassment and sexual assault in various fields like the entertainment circles, the music industry, the political community, the academic world, and the sports world.

Voices of Our School

From a student survey of sexual harassment, it shows that most of the students are caring about the topic sexual harassment, and they want to participate in education in school and taking actions to protect people from sexual harassment. Students thought that female and children are more likely to face sexual harassment. In fact, there are 75% of the student respondents who have been talked to by strangers when they don’t want to and had someone making unwelcome sexual comments or jokes to them. There are about 70% of them are female, with half saying it has happened “many times”.

Based on the survey, there are 70% of the students had seen other people being sexual harassed. Something that is extremely shocking is that 80% of the students are not strongly agree that school is a safe place where students won’t face sexual harassment. This result shows that sexual harassment is a very serious problem to the students in the school. Schools should provide lessons about sexual harassment, and teach the students how to protect themselves. Also, school should pay attention on making school’s environment comfortable and safety for all the students.

After the survey, we interviewed some students and teachers for sharing their own experiences and feelings of sexual harassment. This is a quote from a senior girl, “about five years ago, me and my friends were in a park climbing mountain. I was the first one who finished, so I was sitting on the grassland and waiting for my friends. Not far away, there was a man standing near a tree, he stared at me for a while, and took off his pants. I was very scared, I ran away and cried.” 

A female teacher had also shared what she went though, “I have been sexual harassed both physical and orally. I’ve had people called to me on the street to ask me to come here, and followed me, and talked to me when I don’t want to. I’ve had people touch me inappropriately in public like on the subway and in restaurants and bars. I’ve had difficult situations with friends, and people I was dating with, who want something I don’t want to give, and refuse to accept the answer ‘no’.” 

Sexual harassment is not only strangers action, sometimes an unwelcome sexual comment or joke from a friend. A senior boy had shared his story: “Last year, me and my friends were playing truth or dare, it was a turn of dare, and they made me do sex position to another friend. I felt very awkward.” 

 

Also, sexual harassment does not only happened to women, men can be sexual harassed too, like the male teacher said: “When I was twenty-two, I went to a store, and the store owner kept stroking my back. I felt very strange, but I didn’t know what to do. After that I never went to that store again.”

 

In light of all this, it is important that the school start to do more to help educate people on this very important issue.