When the #YesAllWomen hashtag started going around after the Isla Vista shootings, I read the stories and agreed that it's appalling the kind of bullshit that is going on in our society, and even though there were some stories that I could relate to I still felt kind of outside of the bubble for some reason because there were far worse things in the world than what I could personally attest to. There was still kind of a disconnect between what could happen to women and what could happen to ME. It's weird I know guess I'm still having trouble putting that kind of feeling into words. But after being sexually assaulted by 2 men in the metro last week I think I found many more words to say.
I was on the metro/subway/underground (whichever word you prefer to use) leaving a coffee date with one friend to go meet up for an early dinner with another. As I was about to board I noticed there was a seat open, but there was also an elderly man boarding at the same time and I wasn't going to be a jerk and take the seat so I stood at the back corner of the metro against the wall. To my surprise the elderly man (looking about 80 fragile looking huge glasses and hearing aide) decided to stand against the door. Rode along a few stops and just like normal in the evening rush hour more and more people entered one of which was an African man who stood at the other pole against the door next to the old man. When this happened the older man started to move way from the door and sort of stand in front of me still holding on to the pole. My first thought was "Racist bastard" since in my experience and that of others it's not surprising to find that kind of behavior in the country.
Then the old man put his hand on my leg. At first I'm like okay there's a lot of people not the best balance it happens just trying to not fall down, I moved over a bit and brushed his hand away. After a bit his hand made it's way back to my leg and a bit closer to a more private area. I'm trying to move away from him but at this point the metro is packed and the girl next to me against the wall is getting irritated I'm pushing up against her more. I try moving his hand away, I say perdona (excuse me) and try to move him away and get away from him but I'm against the wall and at this point I brush his hand away, but he puts it right back where he wants it and starts rubbing me. I'm in such shock and disbelief at whats happening and feeling like no escape. I feel like if I yell at him, he's just a frail old man and the no one would believe me because of my beastly appearance I've been reminded of time and time again. Also making a scene could draw attention to my immigration status at the moment and that's definitely not a problem I want to deal with. Looking back now all of those reasons are silly but just the feeling of terror and disbelief just didn't allow me to react at all.
While I was trying to dodge and get away from the old man, the African man touches my hand that's holding on to the pole for balance (since we all know I don't really have any) and he nods over to me with a "what's up you wanna hook up look" I just say try not to look at him, try swatting the old man away try to move over all at the same time, he keeps touching my hand to get my attention, so I move it to the bottom of the pole but he's still trying to talk to me so for the infinite 2 minutes to get to my stop I let of the bar hope I don't fall try to get this old man off of me and just avoid eye contact with everyone.
My stop finally arrives I bolt out and just want to go and meet my friend. I hear the African guy calling after me "Guapa!" On the escalator he catches up to me and "Guapa what's your name?" I just keep repeating no. He asks where I"m going, and I reply to meet a friend then he says "Eres muy bonita" (You're very pretty) and smacks my ass. I just scream "Dejeme an paz" (Leave me alone!) and run the rest of the way.
These kinds of incidences or worse happen every day all the time all over the world. It's really disheartening that we live in a time where we can say "Our society is misogynistic, racist, homophobic etc.... " and the response just generally falls into "That sucks, but that's the way it is, it's so ingrained we can't change it"
What sucks is that I feel guilty for not protecting myself better. What sucks is that it feels strange saying I was sexually assaulted because it wasn't violent, but I was sexually assaulted. What sucks is that when friends told me that I should report it I didn't want to for fear I'd be laughed out of the police station. What sucks is that it's probably not the last time this or something similar will happen to me or someone I know, or someone I don't know.
#YesAllWomen have to deal with this kind of bullshit... even me.