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Every once in a while when women are talking about sexual harassment, especially during their teens or earlier, but often also as adults, the topic of shame comes up. I'd never had any clue why. Anger, yes. Annoyance. Frustration. Fear, not usually my thing unless the harassment is obviously threatening, but I can totally understand. What is there to be ashamed about? In all my long history with it, from the guy in a tram who put his hand in my underwear when I was 8 or 9, to the guys who followed me in the street and begged for sex and didn't want to hear no, and the guys who demonstrated their dicks from their cars when a dick pic wasn't a thing yet, and the strangers who found it necessary to inform me that I have big tits, I have never lost the track of who should be ashamed there - and it wasn't me. I'd wondered if I had lived a sheltered life after all, if there is some cultural difference, although I heard the shame thing from Russian women just as well, and where the hell did those other women get that message from. Today I tried to think harder, and yes, now I realize the message was there. All those people who told me and my friends that if we just position ourselves right, or carry ourselves right, or dress right (all of the above meant different thing for different people) we would make those guys respect us and stop harassing us. I heard the message, over and over again. I even argued with them, my points being that a) while I understand and use some precautions to avoid physical assault, there is no fucking way in hell I'd change anything in my life just to prevent some asshole from embarrassing himself publicly, and b) I have absolutely no use for their respect, and the kind of people who's respect me only if I have a very high neckline and never smile can stick their respect where the sun don't shine. I don't think the well-intentioned shamers ever understood. One of them was even my guidance counselor in school, and should have known better. As to why I didn't get the memo at the time - I think it's just something undiagnozed on the autism spectrum. Damn inconvenient pretty often, but comes handy when you don't want some stupid social message hammered into your head. I don't think many young girls will read this, but just in case any do: 1. It's not anything you did or failed to do. The harassers are doing it because you happen to be female, and young, and they happen to be there, and assholes, and horny. Sometimes they also do it to people who are male and young. Getting older doesn't quite get rid of them, but reduces the numbers considerably. 2. Unless you are physically threatened or think you might be, there is really no point in inconveniencing yourself just to avoid their attention. They should be ashamed of themselves, and we as a society are slowly going in that direction, but right now they are an annoying fact of life like telemarketers and banana flies. 3. The harassers really should be ashamed of themselves. They are embarrassing themselves in public. It might or might not be safe to laugh and point, but if you are upset and want to make yourself feel better, just imagine that guy standing on his hands naked from the waist down, ass up in the air, and a sparkler up his ass. Or imagine him as the protagonist of one of those Youtube videos where people do spectacularly stupid things. 4. Don't think how to make them respect you. They are people of no consequence, and their respect has no value at all. They are still human beings and might get better, but if you ever have to deal with them after the harassment, it's them who should be working on earning your respect, not other way around.
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