Last Saturday was one of these (probably last this year) glorious days in New York City. End of October, painted with warm autumn colours, high temperatures of 22 C, sunny. Blissful.
After spending afternoon in Central Park, my friend, her three kids and I were marching down crowded 7th Avenue. Which is challenging at any time, but weekends are next level of madness. It’s literally nonstop hazard assessments. There are sudden stoppers, there are eyes glued to screen walkers, there are pamphlet in your face marketers, there are street food sellers, there are formation walkers, and so on.
On that day, we came across all of the above and more, one more. One that didn’t bring attention from far. He was standing on the other side of the traffic lights amongst other 10 ish people. Waiting for the traffic to stop. 1..2..3.., ready to start the race. When he was passing by, outreached hand allowed for his fingers to slowly move over my private parts.
As I held an 8-year-old girl hand, I turned around to scream “WHAT THE HELL?!”. He was standing there, with smug face, like nothing happened. My friend and I rolled eyes in disapproval and walked away. Just like that. We walked away, if someone clumsy spilled a coffee on my new Chanel dress (mind you, I’ll probably throw bigger fuss over Chanel). So why didn’t I throw a fuss over sexual assault?
I like to think that I’m smart, outspoken woman. I’ve read about sexual assaults, I know what to do, sure I do. But I didn’t do anything. I treated it as part of my day. Why? Because in the end no one got hurt. Because police report would take half of my precious day. Because even if police would listen, they wouldn’t do much about it. Because every day I walk past sleazy looks and unwanted comments.
My male friends always say: “Guys talk and look, but it’s just a joke. It doesn’t hurt anybody.” But, it does, doesn’t it? I got so used to this “looks” and “talks” that subconsciously, I accepted abuse as part of my day. I let my guard down.
As a result, I failed as an adult, who has a duty to teach little humans how to defend themselves, how to say “NO”, how to stand up for themselves. I got hurt, and an 8-year-old next to me got hurt, and someone else will get hurt. Because I didn’t report this PREDATOR, walking around streets of New York City, touching females in inappropriate places with no previous consent. What if next time touching won’t be enough?