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Nah Dude, I’m Not Going to ‘Lighten Up’ About Your Rape Joke

Please note: this article contains descriptions and details of sexual harassment, assault, and rape. 

Over the weekend, I was at a party. As I stood outside a little Shoreditch pub with a group of guys I vaguely knew, someone brought up Harvey Weinstein. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past two weeks, you know that that despicable man is now synonymous with years upon years of assaulting and harassing women in Hollywood.

“Yeah, and did you hear that Terry Crews said that he was sexually assaulted, too?” one of the guys said.

“Yeah right,” someone piped in. “There’s no way a guy that big would get groped. I mean, if you were that big you would just knock the guy out.”

“That’s not true,” I said. “First of all, he was at a party, and the person who did it was a person in a position of power. Terry Crews said it himself: he was scared of being ostracised…”

I didn’t even get to finish my sentence; I would have pointed out the further implications of the fact that he’s a black man, and how if he had indeed knocked the guy out, extremely skewed headlines would have ensued (as Crews himself said: “‘240 lbs. Black Man stomps out Hollywood Honcho’ would be the headline the next day”). I didn’t get to say that sometimes – as it’s happened to me – the person being assaulted freezes, and cannot speak or move, let alone fight the person off. I didn’t get to say that him coming forward means a lot to a lot of people, because it proves that it really can happen to anyone, regardless of gender or size or influence or race. I didn’t get to finish my sentence, though, because I was cut off.

“I totally would have knocked the bloke out,” another guy said, and they all laughed.

“Forget Hollywood,” I said. “What about what’s happening right at home, right here in Bethnal Green?”

I have lived in Bethnal Green, an area in East London, for almost four years now. A few weeks ago, a seventeen-year-old girl – separated from her friends, and possibly drugged – was sexually assaulted not once, not twice, but three times on the very streets that I walk every single day. The story makes me sick; I cannot imagine the emotional trauma this poor girl is facing. I feel beyond disgusted that these men did this to her, these vile predators that walk amongst us, right here in my neighbourhood.

“Three times in one night,” one of the guys said, shaking his head. “That’s some bad luck.”

“That’s not bad luck,” I said. “That’s a patriarchal system that has emboldened these men to the point where they think they’re entitled to rape a woman without worrying about any consequences. This is why people say we are living in a rape culture… because we are.”

“I don’t know,” the guy to the right of me chuckled. “If you ask me, it sounds like a pretty good Friday night.”

***

There’s a status that’s going around on social media right now – the hashtag #metoo. All day, I have seen people of all backgrounds posting this on Facebook and Twitter – me too. Me too, we’re saying, I have also been sexually harassed and/or assaulted. We’re not looking for sympathy – we’re looking to prove just how insidious this problem is, just how common it is. It truly can happen to anyone, and, if my social media feeds prove anything, they’re proving just how many people it has happened to. And yeah, it’s fucked up that we – the people who have been harassed and abused – are the ones standing up, and not the harassers and abusers, that we are the ones who must prove that there are so many of us (as if there was ever any doubt). Personally, for me to say #metoo, it feels like a relief to get it off my chest, to talk about it, and to hope that it makes someone else out there feel less alone.

I’ll admit it – I have laughed at jokes or comments that make light of rape and sexual harassment in the past (and I do believe that you can make a clever rape joke – the key is to punch up, not down). I have said things myself that, thinking of them now, make me cringe. But it’s so much easier, isn’t it? It’s so much easier to just laugh, even when the joke is at your own expense. It’s so much easier to chuckle, or to just be quiet. That’s what we’ve been taught for centuries. That’s why sexual assault survivors don’t come forward.

That’s why, when I finally got the guts to tell a friend about what happened to me one night some years ago after a house party – when a person I thought was my friend climbed on top of me in the middle of the night, pulled aside my pyjama shorts, and forced himself inside me – all she could say was, “Ugh, he’s such a creep,” before she changed the subject. We don’t know how to deal with rape as a society. It is one of the most violent and horrendous things that can happen to a person, and it is everywhere… but still we don’t really know how to talk about it, even if it’s happened to us personally. And if we don’t really know how to talk about it, we certainly shouldn’t joke about it.

Years ago, in the face of such an inappropriate and repulsive rape joke as the “sounds like a good night” comment, maybe I would have just clutched my beer, grimaced, and changed the subject. Maybe I would have gently slapped the guy on the arm to say “stop that”. Maybe I would have been scared to be seen as “the uncool girl” or “the uptight one” just because I speak out against rape jokes and sexism and racism and homophobia.

But that day – and every day going forward – I choose to speak up, and/or I walk away. It’s my way of saying that I’m not going to be involved in a conversation that condones it. I’m not going to be friends with people that make light of it in inappropriate or cruel ways. And while I could have stood there on that Shoreditch street, arguing why joking about a child that was raped three separate times in one evening is really, really fucked up (as if that even needs to be argued) I knew that, in all likelihood, these drunk douchebros would react like so many people have reacted when I’ve spoken up in the past. Sometimes I don’t have the words or the energy to explain myself to people who clearly don’t want to listen, but still I know I have to try.

 

“Chill out,” they’d say. “It’s just a joke.”

“You’re overreacting,” they’d say. “You need to calm down.”

“I’m not actually sexist,” they’d say. “Loosen up a little.”

“Oh god, it’s called humour,” they’d say. “C’mon, I thought you were cool.”

 

I said something anyway. “That’s not funny,” I said, my face showing my disgust.

“Oh c’mon, it’s just a joke,” the ‘joker’ said, laughing, looking to his friends for support. And in that moment I realised that walking away from him – that showing that I didn’t want to be near him – was more powerful than trying to debate with him in his drunk state. I turned and walked away.

“Lighten up!” he called out to me.

No, mate. I won’t lighten up about your rape joke. 

I won’t lighten up because there are seventeen-year-old girls getting raped outside my flat, and it is incredibly messed up that you would think that is a laughing matter.

I won’t lighten up because every single woman I’ve spoken to about it – and many men I know, too – have been sexually harassed and assaulted, often by people they know, often by people in a position of power.

I won’t lighten up because, fourteen years ago, I worked for Miramax and worked for Harvey Weinstein (indirectly, but still). Even then, amongst us young female interns and assistants, rumours swirled. This has been going on for far too long, and too many people were involved in its cover-up.

I won’t lighten up because sexual assault survivors are still bullied into not reporting their assault, to the point of taking their own lives. Because barely any rapists are ever incarcerated or even brought to trial; because it is a crime that is made possible because of silence and fear, and I don’t want to be silent anymore. Because you can sexually assault people and still become rich and famous and popular and hell, even the president of a country.

I won’t lighten up because I still have to steel myself every single time I walk home alone at night: no headphones, keys in hand, totally aware of my surroundings at all times, taking the longer route because it’s more well-lit.

I won’t lighten up because I have been sexually harassed by more people than I could possibly count, including colleagues, friends, strangers, and fellow travellers. This includes inappropriate comments, groping, and flashing.

I won’t lighten up because for all the times I’m asked, over and over and over again, if travelling the world solo is dangerous, I want to respond that I’ve had far scarier and upsetting things happen to me right here, right in my own neighbourhood, sometimes right in my own home. At four times in my life, men – strangers – have masturbated in front of me. One was in the car next to me, one was in a subway car when I was alone with him, one was on a beach, and one was in a hostel. Two of those incidents occurred right at home in Canada.

I won’t lighten up because when I told the last person I went on a date with that I was only comfortable kissing, he still took his penis out of his trousers and tried to force my head toward it. I won’t lighten up because I’ve grown sadly accustomed to men acting disappointed if I didn’t want to have sex, or take our make-out session further, or have sex without a condom, or send them a naked picture or video – as if a whimpering, whiny, manipulative 34-year-old who’s complaining about blue balls is really going to turn me on. I won’t lighten up because these are supposed to be the “good guys”, the ones who would never harass or abuse or rape, and yet they still won’t take no as no.

I won’t lighten up because I still can’t have sex in the position I was date raped in without it causing a panic attack.

I won’t lighten up because I am tired, and angry, and frustrated, and sad. I could write ten thousand more words about this subject. Twenty thousand. A hundred thousand. So many of us could. Too many of us could.

So nah, dude, I’m not going to lighten up. I’m not going to be complicit. I’m going to speak up, I’m going to stand up, and if nothing else, I’m going to walk away from you.

I’m angry, and I want more of us to get angry. I want more of us to speak out against this kind of normalising behaviour, men and women alike. Not all sexual assault survivors are comfortable speaking out about their own experiences – I only recently started to speak out about my own – but perhaps we can start to, bit by bit, break down our collective acceptance of this behaviour, even if it just means standing up and walking away from the conversation, showing that you won’t be part of it. As this article states, “We are fighting not one guy [Weinstein] here, but a system that can only be challenged by collective rage, not individual shame.”

Is there a way to inject such a serious subject with humour? Yes. But unless you understand how to, probably best just to shut up.

Further reading:

Sexual Assault Survivors Are Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place (such a necessary read)

I’m a Coward (because I’ve thought some of these same things. Why didn’t I do this? Why didn’t I say this? Why didn’t I stand up for myself or for someone else?)

Literally, Why Can’t I Say #MeToo? (SUCH a good article, and this is exactly how I felt a few years ago. That happened to me wasn’t “bad enough”. So messed up that we are conditioned to think that way)

How to Make a Rape Joke (written by the fabulous Lindy West, I would note that this was written in 2012 – I would definitely omit Louis CK from the list at the bottom).

If Rape Jokes Are Funny It’s Because They’re Targeting Rape Culture (a look at the few times a rape joke is appropriate)

Ladies, Take Back Your Power (written by my dear friend Kristin, this is about healing through travelling. A very important read)

I Was Harassed at Work For Three Years and Didn’t Realise It (written by the brilliant Katie Gard)

Here’s The Powerful Letter The Stanford Victim Read Aloud to Her Attacker (because this woman – and all other survivors, if they so choose – deserves to have her voice heard, and her story told. I read this letter often)

Sexual Harassment 101: What Everyone Needs to Know

9 Ways to Be Accountable When You’ve Been Abusive (because I believe that some people do truly want to change)

The Allegations Against Harvey Weinstein (this is just the tip of the iceberg on amazing content that Lainey has been putting out as this situation unfolds. I have been reading Lainey Gossip for over a decade and she routinely puts out well-written, intelligent, culturally aware articles – please read the rest of her articles about this situation)

Tig Notaro Says Harvey Weinsteins are “Everywhere” (“Your heroes, people you work with, family members – you have to believe people who have come forward.” I made the mistake of reading the Facebook comments on some of the articles about some of the women who have come forward about sexual assault in the past two weeks, and it was heartbreaking. Seems it’s trendy to be a victim, some wrote. Yeah right, just looking for her 15 minutes of fame, wrote others. We need to believe the people coming forward and sharing their stories.)

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer (this book was one of the toughest books I’ve ever read in my life)

Another example of a funny rape joke… because it is clever, and it is making fun of the rapists, not the victims. I’m not the biggest fan of Amy Schumer but this sketch is a great commentary on rape culture. 

 

What do you think? Are you angry, too? What would you say or do in this situation?

52 Responses to Nah Dude, I’m Not Going to ‘Lighten Up’ About Your Rape Joke

  1. Cate October 16, 2017 at 5:29 pm #

    This was such a personal yet important post to write. You are so strong for being a rape survivor, and for facing your past. Whenever someone even jokes about rape, I am the first one to shut them down or say thats not funny. I, at only age 15, have been sexually harassed, when I walk around downtown and cars honk at your or guys whoop and holler. There was even an incident when I was in Peru and a fellow person in my group said something very awkward as he tried to give me a shoulder massage. The only thing we can do as women is to stay strong and stand up.

    • Brenna Holeman October 16, 2017 at 5:35 pm #

      Thank you, Cate. Together I hope we can change things. xo

  2. Elle Croft October 16, 2017 at 5:49 pm #

    Brenna, firstly, I’m so sorry to learn what you’ve been through. This is a brave and incredibly well-written post, and it voices so many of my recent thoughts, which I’ve struggled to put into my own words. Thank you for sharing this. Thank you for walking away from that douchebag. Thank you for reminding me that simple actions like that can be so profound. x

    • Brenna Holeman October 16, 2017 at 6:50 pm #

      And thank you for your support x

  3. Anke October 16, 2017 at 6:15 pm #

    Thank you. For writing this. For sharing your story. Because nothing will happen if everybody continues to keep their silence. Written stories like yours and the #metoo hashtag are already a start, and I do hope girls and women continue to speak, louder and louder. Me too, I too have faced sexual harassment, in different ways. The first thing I did was talk, to get it out of my system and make other aware. So, again, thank you.

    • Brenna Holeman October 16, 2017 at 6:51 pm #

      Thank you so much, Anke. Sending you love x

  4. Stacy October 16, 2017 at 8:21 pm #

    Thank you for being so open and sharing your story. It took me almost 9 years to be honest with myself about the sexual trauma in my past and to realize how much it still impacts my relationships and my mental health. Healing has been slow and difficult, but finally acknowledging what happened has helped.

    This post is so important.

    • Brenna Holeman October 16, 2017 at 8:27 pm #

      Thank you so much, Stacy. Sending you lots of love – talking has definitely helped me x

  5. Marissa Velazquez October 16, 2017 at 8:56 pm #

    Sometimes I never know where to start when responding to someone else’s personal story, but I definitely want to start off today by simply saying thank you, Brenna. I’m so very sorry you have had to endure and survive these experiences, but thank you for being willing to share your story on a public forum with us, and for trying to help drown out the insidious, alienating seed of doubt that too many of us survivors of sexual harassment and assault have experienced where we think we’re alone, and no one will believe our stories. One of my methods of self-healing in the years following my own assault has been embracing my love of traveling, and trying to see and experience all of the things I want to, in order to live my life on my terms. Your blog has been a part of that healing process, with your humor, creativity, and infectious joy for your travels inspiring me constantly to reach for things I previously thought unattainable. I tend to be more of a “silent” enjoyer on the internet, where I don’t comment a lot, but I just wanted to take this moment to offer my gratitude for the small, safe corner of the internet that is your blog, and for your personal bravery today. So thank you.

    xoxo

    • Brenna Holeman October 16, 2017 at 9:00 pm #

      Oh Marissa. Your comment just made me cry. I was nervous about putting this out there but your words just made it all worth it. Thank you so much – sending you lots and lots of love xoxo

  6. Linda October 16, 2017 at 9:51 pm #

    Thank you thank you thank you Brenna for such a brave and honest post. I am so proud of you for sharing and being real – we need women everywhere not to feel judged, and to become comfortable with what it really is/takes to be a woman in this world. The fewer secrets and feelings of shame (which are often part of being a victim of sexual abuse) there are, the sooner the healing begins, right? First stop: open sharing – which you have just promoted. Thank you again for such an important post.

    • Brenna Holeman October 17, 2017 at 12:43 pm #

      Thank you so much for all of your support, I’d be nothing without it xoxo

  7. Paige October 16, 2017 at 10:16 pm #

    Thank you, Brenna, for your bravery in sharing this story and your elloquence on a topic that’s so hard to discuss at all. I have had so many times in my life where I wish I’d said something to those jokes, and also when I’ve taken the bright, longer way home at a breakneck walking pace, or left an event early to get away from a guy who was making me sick to my core for any number of reasons. You are such an engaging writer, and to echo many of the other comments, your candidness is truly inspirational to me. (Maybe not entirely related to the topic at hand but I can tell you with certainty I would not be living the life I am now–traveling solo abroad, now on three trips to Europe, that is–if I hadn’t started reading your blog a couple years ago). *hugs*

    • Brenna Holeman October 17, 2017 at 12:46 pm #

      Aw, thank you so much, Paige… your final words are amazing. I felt very overwhelmed (in a good way!) when I read them last night. I’m so happy that you are out there following your dreams!!

  8. Allison Kowalkowski October 17, 2017 at 6:16 am #

    Thank you for sharing not only your story but also additional information and ways to stand up for what’s right when historically doing nothing seemed like the only option. I hope a lot of people see this article and appreciate the honesty and bravery and strength as much as I did.

    • Brenna Holeman October 17, 2017 at 12:43 pm #

      Thank you so much, Allison, I’m glad that you appreciated the post. x

  9. Brigitta October 17, 2017 at 9:50 am #

    thank you.

    • Brenna Holeman October 17, 2017 at 10:35 am #

      xoxo

  10. Ruth October 17, 2017 at 10:42 am #

    Thanks for writing this Brenna, and for putting your voice to this. I was a bit worried about putting #metoo on my facebook because my family is on there and I didn’t know what that would mean to them, or if they would believe me. Isn’t that sad? My experience isn’t anywhere near as bad as yours, but to be honest the leering and groping that went on in clubs (and probably still does, I don’t go clubbing anymore >.<) was something that I never, ever questioned as a young woman. I had more of your friend's reactions 'ugh men are such creeps'. I hope that what comes out of this horrific situation is that we no longer just accept men as creeps but we show them that it's not ok, they are the problem and they need to recognise that.

    The lighten up comment, is just this moron showing his shame. Men are uncomfortable in light of the Weinstein stuff because it questions their behaviour, and they think that by making a joke of it, by making light of something so serious it will take things back to the way they were. That is why what you've written here is so important. Thank you!

    • Brenna Holeman October 17, 2017 at 12:45 pm #

      I know – I totally get it. For years I think I was in denial about what happened with my “friend” because I doubted anyone would believe me. And no, I don’t go clubbing anymore either (even at a pretty casual gig a couple of weeks ago I was groped by a guy off his face).

      And I agree about him showing his shame. In that moment it was easier to make me look like uptight than it was for him to apologise. So sad.

  11. amy October 17, 2017 at 12:33 pm #

    Brenna, thanks for sharing your story and I’m so sorry to hear that happened to you. Sadly, I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t at some point, to some degree, been harassed, groped or assaulted by a man – it’s everywhere, in all corners of the world. I hate that as women we have to apologise for or hide our anger, why shouldn’t we be angry? It’s comforting to see more people speaking out though and sharing their experiences.

    • Brenna Holeman October 17, 2017 at 12:47 pm #

      Thank you so much, Amy, and agreed – why shouldn’t we be angry?! It’s happening to too many of us, too often.

  12. Gaylene October 17, 2017 at 1:59 pm #

    Guuuuuurrrrrllll you go!
    I’m truly sorry you had to experience these things in Canada…or anywhere.
    Appreciate your honesty so much. I truly believe writing like this can change the world. Blessings to you.

    • Brenna Holeman October 17, 2017 at 2:16 pm #

      Thank you so much, Gaylene! x

  13. E October 17, 2017 at 2:47 pm #

    Thank you for speaking up, sharing your story, and writing about this. I hope all of this coming to light in society moves us away from rape culture.

    • Brenna Holeman October 17, 2017 at 9:58 pm #

      Thank you so much, E x

  14. Jessica October 17, 2017 at 2:51 pm #

    It breaks my heart that this happened to you. I’m so sorry. It’s horrifying that I can read this kind of thing with little to no surprise because it happens more often than everyone would like to admit; to be honest I was more shocked by your friend’s reaction.

    I have my own stories too, from a family member when I was young to a more recent groping in front of a food truck while I was just trying to get some fucking chicken & waffles. I made a huge scene and he (and all his friends claiming it didn’t happen) got thrown out of the venue, but I’m sure he’ll do it again.

    Thank you for both sharing your story and standing up to those assholes. I hadn’t heard about that 17 year old and I cried (at work) when I read that article. It blows my mind that anyone could joke about that. Hugs to you.

    • Brenna Holeman October 17, 2017 at 10:01 pm #

      Ugh. I was once groped at a beach party in Thailand; a British guy grabbed my breasts from behind and said, “Wanna fuck?” in my ear. I did not know this man. In fact I had no idea who this man was – he was an absolute stranger and I had never seen his face before he grabbed me from behind. I wheeled around and slapped him across the face… and… guess who was apparently overreacting? Guess who got yelled at? Yep. His friends all accused ME of abusing him. I still can’t believe that.

      I cried reading that article, too. Such a terrible thing to happen to someone.

      Thank you, Jessica, hugs to you, too. x

  15. Tessa October 17, 2017 at 3:14 pm #

    Thanks for the post, Brenna.
    It makes my blood boil when you speak to people who think they can make light of this issue and then have a go at you when you take it seriously (like it should be).
    I also can remember very clearly the times I haven’t wanted to do things sexually but was too shy / scared / Made to feel like I couldn’t refuse (and I am a strong confident person) – so these times haunt me still years later. I can’t imagine how many more times women who are less confident than me have haunting them. And in all these instances, I know if I ever spoke to the person who sexually assulted me, they wouldn’t even start to comprehend my side of the story and emotional distress.
    Hopefully we can start to instigte a change

    • Brenna Holeman October 17, 2017 at 10:03 pm #

      Those things still haunt me, too. It’s terrible, isn’t it? So many things like that – so many memories – make my blood boil. I agree – I hope a change is coming. We need it. x

  16. Kristen October 17, 2017 at 9:11 pm #

    Beautifully said. This is not a club any girl (or victimized boy) ever dreams of belonging to, yet sadly, most of us do.

    You are doing a great job, sharing through words. Seeing so many others finally break their silence and share on a wider platform is so inspirational.

    It motivates me to continue confronting each man who attacked me in my past. Even if it’s only via online messaging (or if they deny it, messaging their wife)…to make sure they know…as my duty to help protect another from their sexual assault.

    Silent no more. Holding them accountable has been the greatest healing of all. XO

    • Brenna Holeman October 17, 2017 at 10:02 pm #

      Thank you so much, Kristen. I agree that all of us sharing our stories is healing somehow, even though it shouldn’t be up to us. x

  17. Naomi Alyssa October 17, 2017 at 10:13 pm #

    I haven’t commented on a blog post in about 10,000 years but I just read this and wanted to thank you for having the courage to write about sexual assault, and sexual assault complacency, and to do so with such wisdom and unapologetic honesty. I am so sorry to hear about your experiences with harassment and date rape, and the way you have shared your story is so powerfully and deeply moving. Your friends response of ‘he’s such a creep’ rang such a cold chord with me because I was once in your friend’s position: a friend revealed to me her sexual assault and I completely failed to respond in a way that would have shown my support or understanding to her, because instead all I could respond with was awkwardness and unsureity. If I had read a story like yours, it would have given me the concrete knowledge that I needed to respond to her with acknowledgement, understanding, compassion, and friendship (even if I had no solution). Good on you for confronting those men – it may not have seemed it at the time, but I have complete faith that your responses gave them pause, and hopefully, even in some small way, proof that their jokes just weren’t on. You speaking up changes the world ♥

    • Brenna Holeman October 18, 2017 at 4:41 pm #

      First of all… dang, I miss you.

      Secondly, I totally get your reaction – I have no idea how I would have reacted either. It’s a lot to take in and, as mentioned, we as a society still keep so many similar issues under this cloak of shame and secrecy, so none of us are taught how to deal with it (and here’s hoping one day that will be true… because it doesn’t happen anymore).

      Thank you so much for your comment, I hope we cross paths in this big old world again soon xxxx

  18. Kate October 18, 2017 at 12:41 pm #

    Thanks for speaking up Brenna and sharing your story. I think it is one that most women can relate to unfortunately. I’ve been sexually harassed by a number of people in the past and one of my ex boyfriends did rape me whilst we were still together. Which some people wouldn’t classify as rape but when you’ve specifically said you don’t want to do something multiple times and they ignore you.. I think society needs re-educating on the matter and more women need to speak out about their experiences. Covering it up with humour makes it sound like it’s your problem and shifts the attention off them which perpetuates the issue.

    • Brenna Holeman October 18, 2017 at 4:44 pm #

      I read a really good article today about a woman who had been sexually assaulted many times in her life and yet she felt she couldn’t write “me too” on her social media because she worried that “they didn’t seem that bad” in comparison to others’ assault. And that’s what’s so fucked up – that we’ve been conditioned to think that way. That because we know the person, it can’t be rape. Um, no.

      I really, really hope the conversation starts to change…….

      Thank you for your comment, Kate x

  19. Jen October 19, 2017 at 2:35 am #

    Brenna, thank you so much for writing this, and for being so blatant about all of your experiences. I think it really has to be made that explicit for men to understand what women are experiencing, and for other women to realize they’re not alone. I couldn’t imagine sharing these details with even my Facebook circle, let alone the internet at large, so kudos on your courage girl!

    • Brenna Holeman October 23, 2017 at 3:10 pm #

      Thank you so much, Jen x

  20. Katie October 19, 2017 at 12:57 pm #

    Beautifully said, Brenna – as usual. I know you’re not looking for sympathy, but I am very sorry for what happened to you, and for what’s happened to countless people in a society that doesn’t impart consequences. This part, though: “as if a whimpering, whiny, manipulative 34-year-old who’s complaining about blue balls is really going to turn me on.” This really struck me. I got married pretty young, so my only experiences dating were late high school/early college, and this very much describes many of the boys I went out with. So to see this description about men 15 years their senior was just… wow. Disheartening.

    Also, good for you for walking away. While men like that often don’t seem to mature (see above), it’s a sure sign of your evolution as a human that you no longer care what someone like him thinks. That, in our 30’s, we’re finally coming into our own, realizing our strength, and understanding that it doesn’t come from the affections of men as we’d previously thought. Lighten up? Fuck him. And not in the way he was probably hoping.

    • Brenna Holeman October 24, 2017 at 1:55 am #

      Thank you so much, Katie. I always appreciate all of your support and your very wise words. x

  21. Kristina Lavergne October 21, 2017 at 4:15 pm #

    Terribly sorry for ur awful experience. It is worse when it is someone we know, thus “trust”.
    Also having had so many experiences from child molestation to the “tame” harassment comments, it isn’t sth we realize we do to protect ourselves: the constant ingrained vigilance that accompanies us every moment of every day. The looks over our shoulders, the peering into darker shadowy areas, the quickened heartbeat when we hear footsteps, the constant looks and words that are at times more harassing than an arm across the breast or a body up against u.
    Women are so much braver and more courageous than we give ourselves credit for and even realize.
    Men are not entirely at fault for their dispicable behaviour and word choices. We are also to blame. We allow the comments to go u challenged, the behaviour to go unreported and to “laugh” along with the crude “jokes”. We do not teach our boy chhildrwn how to respect females and to stand up for them. We do not teach girl children to stand up for themselves in all situations. We emphasize beauty over independent thinking or character traits in our girls and strength versus compassionate or empathy in our boys. But at some point we are no longer girls and boys but men and women. We have learned that this beauty and strength labeling is not only acceptable but the correct way to view others as well as ourselves. Until we value each other and ourselves for more than these superficial qualities, how can we expect our societies to uphold character traits and values and morals to a higher level than the bottom feeding we accept now?

    • Brenna Holeman October 24, 2017 at 1:56 am #

      I agree – we all need to change, society as a whole. We cannot let these things pass us by anymore. Thank you for your comment x

  22. Tayla Anderson October 22, 2017 at 2:09 am #

    I was sexually assaulted at my local swimming pool at the age of 14, by a boy in my class. He did it in front of everyone & nobody said a word. I never went back to that pool again. For that day, I start to get panic attacks, anxiety & depression. I never told my mother because she wouldn’t have allowed me to go out anywhere on my own again. Then my own brother make a sexual advance to me. Both these incidents sicken me still at the age of 55. My mother never spoke to my brother & I always feel frighten at home. I didn’t do well at school after that & I had suffered from mental illness as a result of abuse & trauma. My family made fun of me behind my back & called me a loony & a psycho. When in fact, there’s something wrong with them & not me, if they can make fun of someone who has been traumatised. They did deserve to be in my life. I am at peace with myself now… & finally happy. I’m very sorry for anyone who has suffered at the hands of any perpetrator/s.

    • Kristen October 22, 2017 at 7:55 pm #

      You are so brave and so strong, surviving and seeing it all so clearly. What incredible wisdom you hold. What a success…YOU are.

    • Brenna Holeman October 24, 2017 at 1:57 am #

      I am so sorry, Tayla… but so glad that you are at peace now. Sending lots of love xo

  23. Amy Baker October 23, 2017 at 10:43 am #

    Great article Brenna and thank you for the further reading. You are such a boss woman. Thank you for your authenticity. xxx

    • Brenna Holeman October 24, 2017 at 1:56 am #

      Thank you so much, Amy xx

  24. Victoria @TheBritishBerliner October 24, 2017 at 8:49 am #

    I’m so sorry to hear about what happened. It must have been really awful.

    I would be livid with anger, then annoyance, then livid again. Because I can’t leave things alone, I would probably give those boys a piece of my mind (I’m a teacher by training) then walk away, with my head held high.

    It’s hard to speak up, but you did what was comfortable at the time, and writing this article has done far more good, than trying to justify it those idiots.

    Thank you for sharing this brave post.

  25. Ange October 25, 2017 at 11:31 am #

    Oh, Brennaaaa… I am sorry for everything. I don’t think I have words powerful and meaningful enough for you.
    You’re a Warrior. You’re Brave. You’re Loved. We love you. We will stand you you.

    Love love love
    Ange

  26. Zalie October 31, 2017 at 10:05 pm #

    Thank you for addressing this horrible topic and for being brave enough to share your own story sister. You should be so proud of yourself ( as I am of you), by stepping up to that ignorant asshole! What is it going to take for people to take sexual harassment seriously?!

  27. Dann November 4, 2017 at 1:14 pm #

    Oh my god, this is so sickening! (the dude’s comments, I mean). I’m a feminist and I am always receiving crap whenever I address the horrible sexual assault situation that we are living right now. I am so sorry you had to go through all that, but if we keep addressing these situations we might make some change in the near future. I honestly think that a lot of this scenario is a consequence of the wrond idea of masculinity that rules society. Good vibes for you, Brenna!

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