Part Four: Sexual Harassment

This series is going to be longer than I planned. The experience and fallout of it all has become so much more complicated than I even began to conceive of when I started this.

I don’t have the words to talk about all of that yet, though.

Before I get into what I do want to talk about, please be aware that I’ve received another “Yes, me, too,” and I’m raising my count to 11.

Eleven. Disgusting man.

Yesterday, I received a message from the man who sexually harassed me.

I was coming out of an already disorienting job interview. (Disorienting for my own internal reasons that had nothing to do with the job or conversation itself, both of which seem/seemed pretty awesome. And I’ll get into that another time.) I was jogging through Midtown in the sauna New York laughingly calls air in the summer. I turned on my phone — which I always turn off while I’m at interviews — only to be greeted with this gem of a notice from Facebook:

“Sexual Harasser would like to connect with you.”

Obviously it didn’t actually say “Sexual Harasser,” though that would have been saucy and topical; it said his name. And having his name pop up on my phone made my heart turn somersaults before falling into approximately where I think my kidneys are.

I want you guys to know that I did just Google “where kidneys?”. According to the anatomy chart I just referenced (thanks, Googs), my heart fell way farther down than my kidneys.

I had a few immediate reactions.

 

First reaction: “Facebook reinstated his account?” (Cue: string of expletives)

No, Facebook did not reinstate his account. His original account is lost and gone forever, as far as I know.

When I stopped to think for a second, I realized that it was a message request. If he was using a reinstated version of his original it would have meant we were still friends on FB, and he wouldn’t have needed to request to send me a message.

Big duh moment.

 

Second reaction: “How on earth does he feel okay sending me a message out of the blue after all of this?” (Cue: string of expletives)

This reaction lasted me all the way home to Brooklyn, on what I think might be the longest subway ride I’ve ever taken. I cleared the notification from my screen just so I wouldn’t have to look at it, but I was still thinking about it, wondering what I should do.

I texted Max and another very close friend (and I actually have never asked if they’re okay being mentioned on this blog, so I’m going to do that before I use their name here), who both had the same immediate reaction. It was seriously uncanny.

They both said, in their own words, “You can block him.” They’re both really nice, diplomatic people, though, so I read between the lines to what they were really saying: “Block him. And then explain to me why you haven’t already blocked him.”

Blocking him was solid advice but somehow not comforting, and I couldn’t pinpoint why.

After the longest subway ride of my life, I got home and mainlined about half a bag of Takis. (Did you know the Fuego flavor of Takis are vegan? I did not, but Molly tells me they are, and I can attest to the fact that they are delicious.) I stress eat, and that’s another topic for another day.

I sorted my laundry. Some suits are machine washable! I got halfway to the dry cleaner before I discovered that. You know you’re not in California anymore when you’re ecstatic to find out your pants suit is wash/dry and can get tossed in the same wash and fold bag as the rest of your sweaty laundry.

Then I called my mom. It was this phone call that actually helped me untangle all the threads in my head and figure out why I was so upset about his message.

It was partly the fact that he was so easily able to send me a message. He created a new account pretty soon after the old one was deleted, and I assume it took little effort and approximately 30 seconds. Reporting his account and getting it shut down was nothing but a minor inconvenience.

It was partly that I had received a message from him at all. I’ve been so caught up in writing down and working through how I felt about everything — and then hearing from other women who went through the same thing — that I never stopped to consider whether or not he was reading all of this. Suddenly knowing beyond the shadow of a doubt that he was/is/has been felt disconcerting.

It was partly because of his comfort level with sending me a message. Another message. Yet another unsolicited message that he knows somewhere inside himself that I am not okay receiving from him.

But it was as I rambled at my mother — who was at work trying to do her job — that I realized that what bothered me the most was why he felt okay sending me a message.

Regardless of what he said, he was still forcing himself on me. He still felt okay sending that message because life has taught him that what he has to say matters; that how he feels about a situation is something he can express and be confident he’ll be heard.

Well, this is my blog, so it’s my turn to be heard, and for Director Ex-Director I have 3 words:

You’ve said enough.

And those were just the reactions I had before I read the darn thing.

When I told the other friend I had texted that it was a message request, they shot back almost immediately, “He can’t see it if you open it.” They did a little Googling to make sure that was right — and it was — and so I sat with that knowledge for a minute.

Then my friend Molly said she thought I should open it. She said that if it was more of the same, then I would have the chance to finally say “F*ck you.” And if it wasn’t, then…well, I’ll get to that part.

So I opened it and discovered that his new Facebook account had been deleted. Seriously. In the three hours since I had seen his message come through, his account had already been deleted.

His choice? Another complaint to Facebook? I have no way of knowing.

Here’s what Ex-Director had to say.

 

Sexual Harassment Part Four

 

What the heck am I supposed to do with this?

 

Breakdown

Written: 17k

Listening to: “Learning to Fly” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers


3 thoughts on “Part Four: Sexual Harassment

  1. I want to thank you for being so brave to post all of these! You are an inspiration to all. As someone else who had also received similar messages, not quite as explicit as yours, but enough to feel uncomfortable it makes me disgusted to read the screenshots. I know there were many who received repulsive messages from this oppressed pig who hid behind his religion, his screen and keyboard, and his director title. He felt protected as he sought after women of lower titles who were inferior to him. He took our friendliness and kindness as an open invitation. He abused our friendly nature to make us feel dirty, guilty and embarrassed. There are many nights I stay up and think “Why did I ever respond to his messages?! What did I do to warrant this?” Some days I still feel disgusted by it. I must remind myself that I didn’t seek after the attention and gross words, he sought after us. We are the victims.

    It takes some of us longer than others to come forward about our experiences, but it’s important to remember that it is never too late! This subject is difficult to discuss. It makes us uncomfortable, but it is so imperative that these stories are shared and openly discussed. Because we are not the only ones out there who have been or are in this situation. We have a voice, we have value, we have a platform. Thank you for being a candle in a dark room! You are appreciated, you are adored and you are respected ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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