I Was Harassed by a Woman and People Don’t Think It’s a Problem

Thursday, 23 March 2017 - 12:02:18 WIB
By : Rio Tuasikal | Category: Gender & Sexuality - 3977 hits
I had never felt so mucky until one female colleague last week grabbed my chest without my consent.

I was walking to the locker room at the office when I met her. Without any prior warning she touched my body part and chuckled.

“It’s bigger now,” she said.

I pushed her hand away from my body and said indignantly, “Don’t touch me!”

Yet she did not care and attempted to do it again. I fled to my locker and when I went back out, I told her in a rising tone: “That was a harassment!”

She giggled, showing no remorse, while another female co-worker defended her.

“No, it’s not,” her friend said.

To be clear, I am open and mostly feel comfortable with haptic communication. But last week was different because my colleague came up with a phrase that shifted the whole context of her touch, making it rude and demeaning.

I’ve read, heard, and been concerned about women being harassed, and I condemned those assaults. Having experienced it myself now made me feel as if I was disconnected with my body. I felt that my autonomy had been violated, disowned, and dethroned by any definition. Gone was the sanctity, substituted by the undeniable abhorrence towards my own torso. This body is always with me since forever, but in seconds it no longer became mine anymore. It was an object.

I was about to lecture them about their imbalanced understanding of feminism. But since I had to start working, I said: “That was not feminism. You have to think again.”

Irate, I confided in another colleague, a woman who was once harassed by a male coworker. I had hoped that as an ally in this experience, she would say something to soothe me, the way I was to her when she had just been harassed. But she only smiled and it made me feel insignificant.

I shared about this experience on Facebook, seeking support from friends. But friends on my timeline were not as supportive as I had expected. Some close friends – who I believe are familiar with feminism and consent – even made fun of me in their comments. It was then I realized that the patriarchal society does not recognize male victim. It is nearly impossible to have people take my experience of being harassed seriously.

This made me feel even worse. Luckily some friends supported me and told me they were sorry to hear about my experience. Gradually I felt better, though I had decided to give those two colleagues the cold shoulder for a few weeks.

Apparently this is a global phenomenon. On Reddit last year, a male victim of sexual harassment by a woman shared his ordeal and started a poll. Hundreds of men responded in just 22 hours, claiming the same experience happened to them in bars, clubs, even at the workplace. Their harassment range from sexual comments to sexual touch.

These stories are also well-reflected and confirmed in videos of social experiment on YouTube. One experiment conducted by @JoeySalads in a shopping center showed that people readily jumped in to protect a woman named Lexi when he was touched by Joey. But when they reversed the role, no one even notice or dared to come to his help.

Is this the gender equality championed by feminism? Of course not.

I believe that feminism is a great equalizer to everyone. This means putting equal spotlight on harassment of all victims equally, regardless of their sex, gender, and identity. Body is body. When it comes to harassment, no one has the privilege of doing it.

Rio Tuasikal is a journalist based in Jakarta. He covers mostly everything, but writes passionately on gender and human rights.  You may found him at the nearest convenient stores writing, sipping coffee, daydreaming, or all combined. Otherwise just poke him via Twitter @riotuasikal or swing by to blog riotuasikal.com.

Got an opinion on this issue? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below.

Related Articles
Ruby - Astari | 23 March 2017 | 12:56:40 WIB
Whoever does it and whoever the victim is, harrassment is still harrassment. It's a serious violation to one's personal space. Thanks for sharing.
Nindy | 24 March 2017 | 12:39:49 WIB
I'm sorry to what happened to you. When it comes to women doing sexual harassment towards men, people are not as concerned as when the act is reversed. I guess it formed by the media, who normalize abusive action done by women in the name of "self-defense". They took self-defense the wrong way and so they think that women doing any kind of harassment towards men is not a big deal (and often mislead that as a feminism act, when it's actually not).
Gita | 27 March 2017 | 20:56:15 WIB
Excited to see your name here, old friend, but not as excited when I saw the headline and read the article. I'm sorry that so many people were so indifferent toward it! But also, know that just because they don't think it's harassment, doesn't mean that it's not - it's your body and your experience. You know what happened. And I agree - no one has the right to do that to anyone else.
V | 28 March 2017 | 18:23:43 WIB
Sorry to hear that Rio. It shouldn't happen to anyone. It's good to hear you've been talking to supportive friends about it, obviously an experience like that could shock or even traumatise people and I hope talking about it helps. Thank you for sharing too, hopefully it will encourage other men who'd gone through the same to come forward.

I do believe it's a byproduct of patriarchy that some people think it's okay when women do that to men. Men are not allowed to be seen as 'the weak one'. Not allowed to be emotional, not allowed to feel insulted by women, not allowed to be perceived as feminine.
V | 28 March 2017 | 18:24:44 WIB
I've heard a few complaints from anti-feminists about how unfair it was if "women are allowed to act like men, whereas men are gonna be mocked if they act like a girl". And how apparently feminism is about women being allowed to hit men but men aren't supposed to hit back. No actually, that's patriarchy. It's the system that tells you to tolerate harrasment done by the weaker sex because you don't look macho when you complain. It's exactly the common enemy that we're fighting against. I wish they'd realise that.

Weekly Top 5