I was once left in the car in a grocery store parking lot by myself at about six years old so my mom could pop into the store. She told me to leave the windows up and doors locked, but I didn’t listen. I manually rolled down the front seat passenger side window, because I was already going to do things my way, and because it was 1980 with no power windows, where kids got to sit in the front seat with no seatbelts.
While innocently enjoying my independent definance, a man who looked exactly like a popular singer of the time, Eddie Rabbitt, parked his car next to ours. His long bushy dark hair wafted in the windowless breeze as he smiled at me, trying to convince me to get in his car.
I was smart enough to know not to get in this guy’s car, but not street smart enough yet to roll up the window. He could have pulled me right out of the car, but instead, he pulled out his dick and began stroking it, still talking to me, wanting me to look. I started screaming for my mom as loud as I could, looking for her to walk out of the store, frozen in panic. Luckily, he freaked out and drove away. The cops came to the house that afternoon to take a report, but nothing ever happened. What can be done? No license plate. No name. No description of the car. No social norms in place to teach and prevent men from violating women, and little girls.
To this day, I can’t listen to the song, I Love a Rainy Night, without remembering that guy’s dick. It’s a great song, too… super catchy chorus.
I love a rainy night
I love a rainy night
I love to hear the thunder
Watch the lighting, as it lights up the sky
You know it makes me feel good…
I was lucky it wasn’t worse. It was shocking, confusing, trust-dimishing, but not necessarily life altering. It can and does get much worse. I haven’t written, yet, about the time I was raped by a stranger when I was 15, fully covered from head to toe like a nun in winter clothes, while puking in a trash can. That one is harder to describe, harder to admit, harder to relive. I didn’t tell anyone for years because I was ashamed, deeply humiliated. I never told a parent or adult figure. I never sought therapy. I just brushed it under the rug and carried on. And the man that did it never paid any price for helping himself to a helpless child. That part, perhaps now, is what I regret the most. I wonder, still, if he did it again after me to another innocent girl.
This is not about what happened to me, just another female victim. This is about the actions of two terrible men out in the world, self-entitled strangers, deranged predators. This is about all the men out there like them and the women they have humiliated, violated and at the very least, disrespected in subtle office meeting comments, street cat calls, and disgustingly inappropriate compliments. This is about a society that ignores, shuns, victim-blames, and devalues women.
There are good men. I’m married to one. I work with many. I know many women raising them.
As I sit here trying to come up with a solution, I have none. It’s all the same stuff – good men of the world, chime in on our behalf; teach young boys to respect and value women; teach young girls to respect and value themselves; have the courage to expose those that violate us, despite the high cost you pay in accusations, blaming, lost jobs, lost opportunities, lost privacy; vote; legislate…
In the meantime, ladies, carry on with heads held high, confidence in what you have to contribute, and always remember Carrie Fisher’s approach. When a friend revealed to her that she was being sexually harassed, Fisher personally delivered a Tiffany’s box wrapped with the white bow to the man responsible. It was a cow tongue from Jerry’s Famous Deli with a note that said, ‘If you ever touch my darling Heather or any other woman again, the next delivery will be something of yours in a much smaller box.’
A woman after my own heart.