a response to a response

Today I had a column published in the newspaper where I work. It’s a little scary to have an opinion piece plastered on pieces of paper that travel around the city — my friendly Facebook friends like my blogs, what strangers will hate my column?

The column was an edited version of this blog. It makes for a great little opinion piece because the subject is focused on one word and its implications. I’m not arguing against sexism in general (god help me if I could fit that into 800 words), but the use of a single word, “crazy.”

(Don’t use it, y’all. Or, well, try not to.)

I expected some negative feedback, you open yourself up to that. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the lack of negative responses*, and the number of positive ones.

*There have been negative responses ranging from my favorite, “go make a sandwich,” to “boo hoo this sounds like a millennial problem.” But I expected far worse, so, ya, know.

There was one response that wasn’t really negative or positive, but rather, freaking illuminating.

A man was disturbed by this line that I wrote, “I’ve stood, baffled and frozen, when a stranger groped me in a bar.”

He wrote a blog in response to my column. He writes about checking his privilege, not knowing what it’s like to be a woman. He questions if I’m exaggerating the groping situation, if I am, in fact, crazy. And I respect his response. It opens my eyes to what I’m kind of, but not really, saying.

Because, I have been groped in bars. But most unwanted touching and obnoxious come-ons happened in college, or a couple of years ago when I first moved to Charleston. If I guy grabbed me in a bar now, so help me god. I wouldn’t stand for it.

Which is where this stranger — this stranger who took time out of his day to contemplate my life, women’s lives, society — made a valid point. There are certain women who allow (allow isn’t the right word, but what it means is. Women who are afraid to say no or perhaps uncertain of what to do next) men to grope them in bars. They are my younger self, and your younger self, and maybe, at this point in time, you.

You know the whole “tons of sexual assaults happen in college” statistic? Yeah, well, there are plenty of reasons for that.

But one of them is the stigma of admitting you’ve been sexually assaulted. Or even almost sexually assaulted, which still counts as some bullshit, OK, don’t forget that.

If a guy is cute, if he seems OK, if he’s groping you … do you really push him off? Or do you shrug it off? I know I used to. I don’t think I would anymore. But then again, who are we when we’re two drinks in and having a good time?

Are you a buzzkill if you knee a stranger in the balls?

(The answer is no, of course, but this is my almost-25-year-old answer. This would not be my 18 or 19 or 20 or 21-year-old answer).

We grow out of insecurities. We grow into our confident and powerful selves.

Random commenter was so right: if you are groped in a bar, don’t throw it casually in a column! Do something about it.

I realize that now, and that is my message now, to women in college, in high school, and hell, anywhere in the world. Your hurt is no less than anyone else’s. Someone else’s disrespect is not your burden.

In my column I am suggesting a new way for women and men to respect each other. But I don’t want you to think I stop there. I just wrote 800 words. I have a lot left to say. The first thing? Respect yourself. Know what you want and what you don’t want.

And don’t take any shit.