Friday, September 13, 2013

College Harassment

I'm in college now, despite the efforts to keep me fundless and unable to achieve my goals.
But that gripe isnt my story. 
My story is about the systematic harassment that I encounter going to and from my classes.

I am a big-chested, big-rear-ended woman thanks to my family genes (not complaining, just saying.)
I hover around 200lbs on a 5'4 frame that makes my BMI in the "Clinically Obese" range but everyone says that I "carry it well" which means that I look hot despite being "round." (I guess?)

I am attractive, and therefore I attract attention.
NO MATTER what I wear.
Because i have tried ducking into hallways, taking the long way around, using multiple layers, and wearing my stretched-out jeans.  Even in skirts I get accosted.  You know what they tell me?  "You have a beautiful smile."

I have made a conscious decision to not hide.  I am a human being and I should not have to cover myself and take quick detours into the women's bathroom to avoid people I know are following me.  I should not have to be the one to take steps to prevent the sexual harassment I encounter on a daily basis.

EVERY DAY I attend classes I get some form of "compliment."  It is not my classmates, it is the men in the hallways.  When I walk up to the doors I have had men leaving the building open the door, see me coming, and walk back inside in order to walk past me when I enter the building. 

I had two men vie for me to walk through the door they took great pains to hold open (there were two doors and both were being held open).  When I walked through the one closest to me (giving the guy a quick "thank you") the guy holding open the other door said (as I remember it) "Shoot, you can always pick my door next time, darling."
The same 3 minutes after that happened (Thursday, so yesterday) I was walking straight to the library to print out some papers to submit and three men rounded the corner to the library about 50 feet before I got there.  I almost ducked away, but reminded myself I was not required to hide.  I kept my pace and kept my eyes on the floor about 10 feet in front of me. 
Every single one of the three men said "hi" to me, two using a term of endearment, as we passed.  I nodded at them and kept walking.  One asked over his shoulder (as I kept walking) if he could come with me wherever I was going.  I retorted that they were walking the wrong way, and quickly sped up my pace, turned the corner and ran into the library.

Frequently, an older guy (30, maybe?) finds it nice to pass me (every Tuesday, I swear he waits in the hallway for me to come in, whatever time I arrive he is there) and ask me to smile.  Like somehow I am required to share my smile with him.  He insisted on asking me my name (and at first I didnt realize the pattern and gave it to him) and always catches up to me "Hey, _____, how are you? You have such a pretty smile..." 

I go to classes at my own risk, despite daily being accosted and sexually harassed because of issues out of my control.  It messes with my peace of mind and ability to focus on school because they think they have the right to see me only as a sexual being. 
But I guess none of that matters because "Boys will be Boys" and all that other claptrap that they tell women in order to keep the system in place. 
Did any of those men have a right to call me "sweetie" or "darling"?  Do I have the right to tell them to stop eyeing me like a piece of meat?  Can I slap them in the face next time they accost me?
Or is is just "simple flirtation" and I am the one being all inflammatory?