****Warning! This isn’t book related. It’s me being pissed off!****
I’ve been watching you for a while now—your vicious comments, your cowardly rants—all the hate you’re spreading through social media. The blame you’re putting on a girl that had been through hell and back disgusts me. Yet I chose to stay quiet. I chose to believe that some of you simply don’t know better, while others might need to conjure up excuses for their own sick fantasies. I told myself that when Emily’s letter couldn’t cure your narrow-minds than nothing ever would. So, I stayed away from the comment sections of articles about Emily Doe and the Stanford Rapist. I closed my eyes and pretended you don’t exist. All was good. Until your viciousness followed me to the real life. Until I came face to face with a bunch of you. Until I heard your kind speaking ill of a girl they don’t even know, in a public place, where I had my coffee.
“I don’t get all the fuss. She doesn’t even remember it.”
“I bet she liked it and only came up with that rape shit because she was scared her boyfriend would leave her.”
“She was wasted. If chicks can’t handle booze they should stay away from it.”
“I have a sister. I’d kill a guy if he hurt her, but if she was unconscious how did she know he fingered her?”
“Nowadays, women scream rape all the time. They need the attention. Why else would she write such a letter and put it online?”
Do you recognize your words? Those are only five quotes of your one and a half hour rant. I asked you politely to stop that shit. I tried to reason with you, though, I knew it was pointless. You just laughed in my face and kept going.
Now, I’m left with no choice. I can no longer pretend you don’t exist when you intrude my life with your hate. So, I’m writing you this letter. Again, your narrow-minded kind will most definitely ignore these words. You will pretend they don’t exist like I did with your hate. And yet I’m writing them, hoping that someone will force these words on you as you forced your hate on me and the world.
Now, before I start I’d like to make one thing clear: I have NEVER been RAPED. So, I don’t know what it feels like to walk in Emily’s—or any other victim’s—shoes. Reading Emily’s letter, I can only assume what hell she must have been through. I wouldn’t know how empty you must feel when you decide you “…don’t want your body anymore”. I couldn’t tell you how it feels when the most precious thing you have is taken from you—yourself.
But what I can tell you is what it means to be a woman.
I had the privilege to grow up with two older brothers. They had always treated me like one of their own, never told me “You can’t do that, ’cause you’re a girl.” I was six when they took me to my first kick-boxing lessons, seven when they introduced me to the world of action and horror movies. We shared a deep rooted love for superhero comics and fancy cars. They were also the ones who bought me my first skirts and dresses and encouraged me to wear whatever the hell I wanted without taking too much care of what others thought of me. I loved short skirts—still do—and tight jeans. I liked dressing up and putting on some make-up. That didn’t mean I loved the dirty looks I got when I went out with my friends. Neither did it mean that I wanted some dude’s attention. All I did was trying to be me.
How naively I was back then. Spoiled by my brothers, to believe that all men were like them. That it didn’t matter what I wore, but rather who I was. Not all men were like them, a lesson I had to learn the hard way.
“She was wasted. If chicks can’t handle booze they should stay away from it.”
When I was eighteen I worked in a sports bar, waiting tables to earn some money so I could go out, buy books and nice clothes. My boss, a woman, was tough, but fair. The day I’d started my job, she said, “If a guy harasses you, don’t hesitate, tell him to get the fuck out and don’t ever come back.” I loved her for it, because I had just quit a job in some fancy hotel where my supervisor thought it was okay for rich, old, guys to grope me. I disagreed.
A few months later, we had some VIPs at the bar. They drank champagne, had hot girls by their sides and acted like total douchebags. I was lucky, though. I got to work the pool-hall instead of the bowling lane. They wouldn’t come up and I wouldn’t go down.
Around 3 a.m. I finished my shift and came down. My best friend had come to pick me up. She waited for me at the bar, chatting with her boyfriend, who had been a waiter too. My feet ached and since they were flirting, I figured I take a seat and have a coke before I go home. I just sat when another one of my colleagues put two glasses of champagne down in front of us.
I looked at him. “What is that?”
I should have known something wasn’t right when his face slipped into a frown. “You’ve been invited,” he muttered, pointing to the VIPs.
I peeked over my shoulder. A few feet away, stood a forty-something guy—expensive suit, slimy hair, creepy eyes. The way his gaze drifted over my body made me shiver. I shoved the glass away. “No, thanks.”
Only seconds later, my boss approached me. She glared at me. “Did you just say no to that drink?” she asked, angrily.
I nodded and she started lecturing me about how important these people were and that I couldn’t treat them like this.
Remember, all I did was say no to alcohol. I wasn’t wasted. I did stay away from booze, even though I could have handled it.
Since I couldn’t argue with my boss, I politely excused myself and dragged my BFF to the restrooms. She had been so busy with her boyfriend the whole situation had been lost on her. I filled her in and by the time we reached the restrooms, we both agreed it was time to go.
The ladies room was empty. Most customers were long gone. A sick feeling crawled up my throat and for a second I contemplated to run. From what? I had no idea. But nature called and so I locked the door of the box behind me. Moments later, I heard muffled voices. I called for my friend and asked if she said something. She assured me she hadn’t.
The voices grew louder and all of a sudden I recognized them for what they were—the voices of two men. The blood in my veins froze. What were two men doing in the ladies room? Had they not seen the sign? Did they walk through the wrong door? Surely, it must have been a misunderstanding. Maybe they were too drunk to read.
My stomach twisted and I waited a little longer, hoping they’d go away. They didn’t and I couldn’t stay in there forever. When I heard my BFF’S door unlock, I walked out.
I saw him first—the guy who bought me champagne, the booze I didn’t drink. He stood in the door frame, blocking the only exit. After twelve years, I can still see the wicked grin on his face. I still remember his smug look and the scent of booze and sweat wafting my way.
My friend and I stood there, waiting for him to step aside. He didn’t. Behind me, I heard laughter. I spun and found the second voice. A tall, well-groomed man with an equally dirty look on his face. I knew right then and there that we were in big trouble. My head reeled and I started making plans—kick the one blocking the door in the nuts, gouge out his eyes, and then, RUN.
“What are you doing here?” my friend asked.
“You know what we want,” the one behind me said.
“You wanted us to follow,” the guy in the door added.
The preying look of the Champagne dude made me furious. I wasn’t going to stand there and wait till they did what they were here to do. I was going to fight them both if I had to. Now, you can be a trained kick-boxer all you want, two drunk guys are a problem. The alcohol had made them numb to pain and they were tall and well-built. We were beyond screwed. Nevertheless, I moved toward him and shoved him back. He trembled slightly and that was it.
Just when I got ready to kick, the door behind him swung open and our security walked in. He looked at us, at them. Putting one and one together, he faced me and said, “Get out. Now.”
He didn’t have to tell us twice. We ran. I needed to tell my boss what had happened. These guys were dangerous. So, I ran right to her and told her everything.
She listened patiently and then she said, “Why did you go to the restrooms? Why couldn’t you wait?”
“Why did you go to the restrooms? Why couldn’t you wait?”
All I did was refusing to drink booze, which clearly your kind believes to be at fault in Emily’s case, and go to the restrooms. I didn’t ask these guys to follow me. I didn’t smile at them. I didn’t tell them to stalk two eighteen-year-olds to the toilets. Yet I was the one who had been blamed for their mistakes.
I’ve just turned thirty and, sadly, this is just one of many stories where men thought they had the right to violate my private space. I’ve always been lucky, found a way out of these situations, but are we supposed to live like that? Does a woman have to be scared to go to the restrooms? Do we not have the right to live as we please? To drink without being terrified of what some sicko might do to us?
Being a woman means justifying yourself even though you did nothing wrong.
Why does society look in a woman’s past and say: Why did she walk alone in the middle of the night? Why did she drink too much? Why did she have to wear such a short skirt? When they should be asking: Why the fuck did he think he could attack her because she walked home after work? Why did he think that an unconscious girl would want his penis inside her? What gives him the right to touch her because she wears a skirt?
Society—that’s all of us. Even you, victim-blamers. Now, you can go on, pretending that women are at fault for everything. You can close your eyes and hide from the truth, but what you cannot do is: judge our behavior. We are free to do whatever the hell we want, without fearing for our lives. And next time you start ranting about stuff you know nothing off, remember that it could happen to you one day.
The Girl From The Neighboring table.