Since Oct. 8, over 1 million women (and men) have started telling their stories about being sexually assaulted, harassed and devalued. They heard what Donald Trump said to Billy Bush on video, and it reminded them of “that one time” or “that other time” or “Yeah, of course, that’s happened to me.”
He said they were just words, that it was “locker room talk.” Now others are saying, “That’s just how guys talk” and that, really, it’s OK.
So I’m done. Here it goes.
At 16 – My sister and I went to a nearby school to exercise. After a while, we saw a man standing in the distance, staring at us while he masturbated. There was no one at the school but us and him, and the only way out was where he was. We had to throw our bikes over the tall chain-link fence to get away. We moved as quickly as we could; we didn’t know if he’d come after us.
At 19 – An older man whispered in my ear, as I waiting for the walking signal to turn, that he would “give me five bucks if I showed him my t---.” He was wearing a nice suit. I was on a morning bagel run.
At 21 – I sat in the front seat of a taxi. My friends didn’t want to, and I wasn’t worried. The driver started to put his hand up my dress. I pushed it away, so he tried again. I have never sat in the front seat of a taxi since.
At 22 – At this age, on three separate occasions, men put their hand up my dress and grabbed me. I swung around and hit one of them across the face as hard as I could because of it. It was a knee-jerk reaction. Then I cried.
From 28 to 30 – I’ve stopped wearing sexy clothes during the day. “Sexy” means shorts or too-high heels. Most of the time, if I’m walking alone, lots of men yell things at me. They make kissing noises. They came up to my sister and said, “Hey, sugar t---.” I just put my headphones in. I hate it.
And just last Monday (at 30) – A man tried to coerce me to get into his car. He said he was my Uber driver and to “get on in.” He wasn’t. It was 7:30 a.m. on a Monday. I was on my way to work.
Those are some stories. Of course, I have more. We all do. I know it’s a part of being born a girl. Try to tell me otherwise. And while many men may be surprised by these stories, most women will not be at all. Those who say that this is “just locker room talk,” we are all listening to you ... your mom, your wife, your girlfriend, your sisters, your friends, your daughters, your grandmothers, your aunts, and your co-workers.
We are not dog meat. We are your friends. We love you. Please stand up for us. Please have our backs.
And thank you to all the great men out there. Those who, after seeing this Trump video, have felt for us. Who have been outraged with us. Who didn’t need to but said that they are sorry. Who have spoken out against it. Who have shown compassion for us. Who have listened to us.
We are all listening to you say these things to us, too, your mom, your wife, your girlfriend – your mom, your wife, your girlfriend, your sisters, your friends, your daughters, your grandmothers, your aunts, and your co-workers. We’re all listening.
It really matters to us. It tells us that we are not dog meat. That we are your friends. That you love us.
So, from all of us, please keep standing with us. Please keep having our backs. Because it’s not just “locker room talk” (whatever that means), and it’s really not OK.
I will end with this: To my statement “I know it’s a part of being born a girl,” let it be said: It doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t have to be.
Brittany Castanos is a resident of Fresno.