Sexual harassment is a problem that is more prevalent than people think. Especially on college campuses across the world, sexual harassment affects women and men alike. Sometimes it is hard to fathom that there is sexual harassment where you live or go to school, but there is sexual harassment at SDSU, and that is why it is so important to be aware.
Don’t walk alone at night. Don’t walk alone ever. Always wear your hair down because they will grab your ponytail. Don’t wear your hair down because they can easily grab it. Don’t wear a revealing top. Don’t wear a tight tank top. Don’t wear shorts that are too short. Carry mace with you at all times.
From a very young age, these words of advice have been etched into a woman’s brain.
They are said to keep us safe, but carry a hidden message: Be afraid and always be cautious.
I didn’t have to worry about it so much a little girl, but as I began to develop into my womanly body, I noticed the attention I received from men. Sometimes it was just harmless stares, but other times it was aggressive stares, cat calls, and worst of all, unwanted touching.
I moved to San Diego from a small town in Texas.
My first impressions of San Diego State University were indescribable. I thought it was a beautiful school that held many more opportunities than my small town ever could. While I still hold these thoughts to be true, my view of SDSU and the world in general has been slightly tainted ever since the night of September 14, 2015.
I was a freshman and lived on campus in the freshman dorms.
As a precaution, all freshmen were told about the University police and how to contact them. We were told that they were reliable. On September 14, 2015, I was walking back to my dorm from the library after a long night of studying. It was around 12 am and I had just begun walking across the bridge that connects the campus to the freshman dorms when I was approached by a young man.
He immediately struck up a conversation by saying, “I’ve been watching you and you have a nice body.” How would this be an appropriate way to start a conversation with any woman you may or may not know?
I kept my eyes glued to my phone and responded with an abrupt “OK”.
“What are you doing on your phone?” he asked.
“Talking to my boyfriend,” I said, harshly.
“What do you do with your boyfriend?” he asked implying it in a sexual manner.
“We hang out, I replied.
I kept walking faster and faster trying to get away from him.
Keep in mind that during this conversation, I kept walking faster and trying to get away from him as he inched closer and closer to me to the point that we were nearly touching shoulders.
“I like your shirt—“ he said and proceeded to move his fingers underneath my tank top.
Just like that. It happened so fast. I was stunned and said “You shouldn’t be doing that.”
He left with a quick “Bye.”
I am forever thankful for the SDSU police who caught him.
I called campus police and they showed up in less than five minutes and for that I applaud them and I’m forever thankful to them for catching him.
Although thirteen other women were harmed, it took more than a year to convict the perp.
Although I don’t completely understand the justice system, I do know that taking a year to convict someone of a crime after 13 other girls have come forward with similar charges is unacceptable.
One of the first questions asked to me in court was “What were you wearing the night of the incident?”
As if that really mattered? Should women and young ladies always dress covered completely head to toe in order to make sure we don’t receive unwanted sexual harassment?
This night left me feeling unsafe and that’s a feeling I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
And all people around me could say was, “Sorry” or “Well, now you know not to walk alone at night.” While the last statement may be true, why should I always feel scared to walk on MY campus back to MY dorm at night?
I moved out shortly after because this incident stirred up sensitive memories that I’d already been trying to cope with. I can only imagine what the other girls were going through…
Instead of teaching women to be more cautious, we need to teach our men to be more respectable of women and their bodies.
I bring up my experience for one reason. I’m not saying all men are this way, but there are one too many men this way. With so many cases being brought to our attention such as the Stanford case, I recognize how agency compared to an individual can produce change.
I hope that women and men can come forward and share their experiences instead of hiding in the dark because of victim blaming.
We should come together and unite as one to bring awareness to this detrimental aspect of society.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m tired of wearing a tank top and shorts in scorching hot weather only to be bombarded with “Nice D’s” or “nice butt.” I want to live in a world where I don’t have to worry about certain men thinking it’s acceptable to verbally harass women based on what their wearing.