(Disclaimer: In this article, I will be discussing assault in a heteronormative context as it is how my personal experience happened. This article does not look to discount the experiences of people who do not identify sexually as heteronormative. It is looking to identify the behavior that rises from toxic masculinity, which is not solely limited to male identifying people.)
My friends and I twirled and shook and when they left me, maybe you and your friend thought that my solo dancing was an invitation. I was thoroughly enjoying myself, happily alone in a room of people. You know the feeling when someone brushes by you and accidentally bumps into you and apologizes?
You didn’t do that.
You stepped forward, cupped your hand, and slapped my ass.
It’s not hard to tell when someone touches you intentionally, and, being a womyn (alternative to “woman” because it does not use the word “man”), I was born and conditioned to find other people’s physical invitations to my body as normal because “you should have seen it coming from the way you are dressed.” As I turned around to realize I knew NOBODY standing behind me, you smiled and laughed with your counterpart. You laughed at the embarrassment and discomfort that was so evident on my face. I can’t explain to my dad how it feels, I can’t explain it to men I am intimate with, and I can’t explain it to male friends who just want to understand.
So, to the boy who slapped my ass at Java, I feel bad for you. I feel bad that you aren’t confident enough in your social skills or self to come up to me, start a conversation and see if I WANTED you to touch me. I am sorry that you are conditioned to think you are entitled to other people and that when someone says no, you get upset because rejection has never been part of your life. I am sorry that you can just write her off as a bitch. I am sorry that you simplify me to bitch.
I will never apologize for dancing, I will never apologize for dressing how I want and I will never apologize for opening my mouth to call you out no matter how many times you attempt simplify me to bitch.
To the male-identifying folks reading this, who don’t think it applies to them, one of your own made me want to leave my own skin that night at Java. He made my own body feel foreign to me. He made it impossible to breath in that public, shared space for the rest of the night. No, it’s not because of my period that I am mad, and no, I’m not being over emotional. I am being realistic while boys who assault womyn live in a fantasy where there are no repercussions and they believe their actions are acceptable to enact on people who never asked whether they could touch them.
It is the responsibility of each member of this campus to work toward eradicating this behavior and its normalization. If you don’t think it’s a priority for you, make it one.