I've been harassed before, plenty of times. But rather than getting "thicker skin" I feel as though the same scab is peeled off again and again, the wound growing ever deeper. I contemplate quitting my weekend job where much of the harassment takes place. But then I remember that this harassment doesn't happen because I'm a performer, because I dance in a short skirt or because my character appears to be drunk -- it happens because I am a woman. I've been sexually harassed walking down the street on a sunny day dressed to go to my grandmother's birthday party. It has nothing to do with what I wear or how I present myself. It has to do with the fact that the harasser thinks is a-okay to treat me with disrespect. Because I am a woman.
And why shouldn't he? Tonight there were literally hundreds of people witnessing the harassment, but did anyone speak up? Besides the lead singer of my band, no (at least, not to my knowledge). The fellow audience members were apparently good enough folks to not be yelling obscenities about my body, but not good enough people to shush-up or call security on the d-bags who were. So that leaves these d-bags with the message that it is okay -- it's okay to be a sexist, perverted asshole.
But it's not okay. Far from it. And I have faith that most people agree with me. Because I usually don't get harassed. I've played over 400 shows in the last five years, and despite the fact that I always wear a short dress, I always dance enticingly and my character always appears to drink Jack Daniels [coke + water = fake whiskey], only seldom does someone take those factors as an invitation for a verbal assault. So clearly it's not me -- it's them.
And if I'm correct that most people don't think sexual harassment is okay, I want to know: why do so many people condone it when it happens? Why don't more people speak up? Of course, there can be as many answers to this question as there are silent spectators, but my hunch is that most people don't speak up because they see it as normal. They see women being objectified on TV, billboards, music videos, movies and as a result, seeing it in real life may not seem shocking or even problematic.
But it is VERY problematic. Because I am a strong woman. And this shit puts me to tears. It makes me feel weak. It makes me feel like all my work to end sexual violence is for nothing. It makes me feel like I don't matter. It makes me feel unsafe in my workplace. It makes me feel like a victim. But I am a fucking survivor.
If you're reading this, you're probably my friend. And since you're my friend I don't mind asking you this favor: if you see something, say something. Please don't tacitly support sexual violence by bearing silent witness to verbal or physical assault. Speak up. Get security. Put the perp in their place. Intervene safely in a way that is comfortable to you. But for goodness sake, intervene. If you do already, thank you. Now consider taking it a step further and encouraging your friends to do the same. This shit won't stop unless we stop it.
Usually I end my posts with some words of encouragement. But they are escaping me tonight. Have you got any for me? I could use them.
I'd like to thank the members of Wedding Banned, past and present, for ALWAYS supporting me, being my advocates and never blaming me. I love you guys.