#MeToo: Our Perspective on Sexual Harassment And Assault

A feminist movement's sign in Philadelphia. Photo courtesy of ABCNews.com.

A feminist movement's sign in Philadelphia. Photo courtesy of ABCNews.com.

⌛ By Kaylin R. Staten ⌛

I have wanted to write about my experiences for a long time, and the #metoo movement, sparked after the heinous stories and actions of Harvey Weinstein, is slowly convincing me to tell my story. While specifics of the below bulleted items are archived away for a later time and writing place, I still want to share some examples I have endured, like most women in every generation and in every location around the world. I’m tired of bottling my emotions and putting thoughts in journals only I can read. I’m ready to give to the greater good. I’m ready to teach the next generation about my experiences and how to better handle them. I’m ready to find my voice in all of this. 

So… #MeToo.

  • In high school, by much older individuals who should, in fact, know better.
  • At the grocery store or Walmart, before I was engaged or married, where I eventually resorted to wearing a fake diamond ring on my left ring finger just to be left in peace. 
  • On my college campus, when men honked at me and tried to get me to look at them.
  • Walking down the street and being cat-called by construction workers.
  • Driving my car in the West End, when a guy crossing the street blew me a kiss. I didn’t know him.
  • When male colleagues commented on what I was wearing or my appearance in general.
  • Being called “hot” or another variation of the word in a business setting. 
  • Being used as a meeting pawn to get men to do what another man wanted in terms of business arrangements just because I’m “pretty.” Never mind an intelligent, educated, independent thinker who, I don’t know, has good ideas.
  • Suddenly being ignored when in a serious relationship, not taken seriously, not invited to things, etc., because I’m not a “single hot commodity” anymore. 
  • Being sent private messages on Facebook with the standard “hey” when all the guy wants is something I will never give him. 

Sexual harassment and assault are real things in the workplace and in everyday life for women (and men alike). As a female in a very communications-driven career, I meet a lot of people. Most of them are wonderful, but I have dealt with some bad eggs. I have dealt with inappropriate comments and behaviors from men in several situations. I have dealt with crude stares and comments. I have been shut out of things because I have been vocal about my opinions or because (*heaven forbid*) I have a husband and am not as "marketable" in others' games. 

I'm not placing blame, and I’m certainly not naming names, but I'm also not tolerating such behaviors, either. This is coming from the woman who called out a man who was eying me up and down at the local post office in early 2017. I was wearing an old T-shirt and not-too-short shorts and MY ENGAGEMENT RING. And honestly, who cares what I was wearing? We never ask for this behavior, do we? Regardless of what we wear? NO. I had the back door open on the driver’s side trying to comfort my scared cat who had just been to the vet when I looked over and saw a guy gaping at me. What did I do? The sassy side of me emerged from the flames of a phoenix. I said, “You’re being inappropriate. I suggest you turn around the other way and stop looking at me.” I have no tolerance for this behavior anymore, and I let people know when it happens, for the most part. I spent a majority of my life remaining silent because “these things just happen.” Not anymore. Not to me and not in front of me. Not to my niece and not to my future children. 

If that makes me a certain B word or some other variation of the word, so be it. If it makes me unapproachable, uptight, too serious or anything else, that’s okay. If you think those things, I probably don’t want your company anyway. I do not people please when it comes to sexual harassment and assault. I have no patience. We can’t afford to sweep this under the rug anymore, either on purpose or by lying by submission. In a realistic world, I want to walk down the street without the fear of being ogled by some random man I have never met -- or even one I have met. I want to wear what makes me feel confident, which isn’t by any means inappropriate. I want to be taken seriously by everyone in the workplace and not viewed as a pretty little talking head with air bubbles for brains. I don’t want to be ignored because I’m madly in love with my husband and let that be known.

At the same token, I do realize not all men and women are the same. Not everyone is disrespectful. My advice to others: be true to who you are and never let people diminish your worth. Speak out. Leave any situation that doesn’t bring you joy. Life is too short to accept what makes you unhappy and what is WRONG. Raise your sons and daughters to not be part of the cycle and stigma. Teach them biological triggers and how to manage them. Teach them respect. Realize you're powerful and just, well, worth what you have to give the world. Not everyone is part of the stereotype, so remember that, too. Hopefully, the #metoo movement will ignite more conversations and social change.

I’m certainly not going to be quiet about it anymore.

Copyright © MMXVII Hourglass Omnimedia, LLC 

Kaylin R. Staten is an award-winning public relations practitioner. She owns Hourglass Omnimedia, a consulting company based in Huntington, WV. 

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