Don’t Make a Scene!

I know it’s odd for me, but this is a true story.Presentation1.jpg


The fact is that as women we have let things happen to us because we’ve been taught not to make a scene, not to trouble. Yesterday I read a social media post about how often women have been sexually abused and I thought, well, that’s never happened to me. Then I read one account: “a man touched me inappropriately when I was …in a public place.” Another: “A man propositioned me.”

And I thought: crap, as a teenager both of those things happened to me. I was raised extremely conservatively from age 11 on after my Dad died. In my teenage years, I never dressed provocatively or got drunk or high. I barely wore makeup.

The first incident happened when I was in high school. I was on the volleyball team and practicing my wicked serve in my front yard, dressed in shorts, not sexy shorts, sports shorts, when a teenager probably my age selling candybars so he could go on some funded trip asked me if I would change my clothes in front of him for money. Say, what? I said no, I had to leave for a volleyball game. Even now I think, girl, you should have jumped up and down and screamed bloody murder at some boy even suggesting you should strip for money.

The second incident happened when I was on the metro to school in DC. I was wearing my favorite pair of brown cords, nothing spectacular, nothing sexy. They obviously weren’t short and showing anything. They weren’t tight. They were comfortable because I liked to dress comfortably. But I was slim with curves and probably had a butt and I felt a hand on said butt as I was traveling up the metro escalator. I ignored it because what could/should I do? Today I would have yelled bloody murder and knocked the man with an unholy sized messenger bag stuffed with heavy crap. Then, I just hurried up the steps to sit on the train where the man actually had the gall to sit near me and ask me about myself. I was so timid, but even then I knew stories and made one up. I pulled out my Spanish newspaper, held it in front of me until I got off at the next extremely busy stop hoping that would stifle his unhealthy libido.

The third incident happened when I was twenty-one and out jogging. I was on my route back home when a man in a sedan asked me if I knew how he could get to downtown DC. I started to tell him and then I realized that he was stroking his penis as I told him. I just shook my head, stopped talking and jogged home, thinking: effing, disgusting men.

Until the article yesterday, I hadn’t given much thought to these situations, but now, I think what a repulsive combination of events for a young woman to go through and I doubt that mine are the worst. I have never been raped and therefore I thought, well, the other things aren’t so bad. But, really, they aren’t great, are they? If you are a man, what would you think about your daughter experiencing these situations? I think that unfortunately every woman has such a story, but it would be excellent if that were not true.

While I never thought myself to blame for any of these situations, because really I was a tomboy and dressed like a tomboy but even if I weren’t, how could I be to blame for a man who was so obviously taking advantage of a situation? The thing that I realize now is that I was also brought up to be passive and many other women are brought up this way. We try not to make scenes. We try not to be drama queens. But sometimes a situation necessitates it and we don’t allow ourselves to act out. We were raised with: what would the neighbors think? But this moved beyond to: what would the woman in the third row who I’ve never seen before and will never see again think? These days I would say: who cares? Not then.

Why did a boy think it was fine to ask me to strip for money or another man to touch my butt or another to masturbate in front of me? That’s not even to mention the man who commented on my wearing a Las Vegas t-shirt while jogging and said that Las Vegas was putting on a pretty good show. wink wink. Forget construction workers, in retrospect those dudes don’t even rank in the hall of whatever.

I know that my situations are by no means the worst out there. I’ve mostly lived a quiet life and that’s why I figured that nothing untoward had happened to me until I really started to think and consider. And, hell, I swept these things under a mental rug in order not to think about them. But did that happen because a society also thought those things weren’t so bad?

I’ve no answers. Just a lot more questions.

Color me: aware.


end 10/9/2016 (5)

S. Darlington


12 thoughts on “Don’t Make a Scene!

  1. This is very common…even in extremely conservative cultures like India…people gasp and call it shrieking when women state their opinion forcefully…men make lewd comments and disgusting gestures at us and we are supposed to just dismiss it as ‘locker room talk’ and get on with our day…if we don’t, then ‘that bitch is making a scene’.
    This culture which is similar everywhere regardless of continent disgusts me.

  2. I agree with you so very much. I was very sheltered when I was growing up and even when I went away to college… I followed all the rules. I was concerned about what people would think if I did anything wrong or if I said something negative about someone else. In my first newspaper job right of college, the manager of my department called me into his office one Monday morning. He told me that he was going to go to a newspaper convention in another city the following weekend. He said that he wanted me to go because it would be a good experience and I would meet people who could help in my career. He said the only problem was that he only had one hotel room and everything else was booked. I had a fit and said “Are you crazy?” and walked out slamming the door to his office. I was furious…of all the nerve! However, did I tell any of my friends about what he had said? Did I go immediately to the publisher? No. I considered talking to someone in upper management, but I wondered what they would think. I was 22 and my manager was about 44 with a wife and five children. I just let it go and worked there for about two more years…during that time, I met my future husband, became engaged, married, and then moved to another city. If that incident had happened just a few months later when I acquired a lot more nerve and confidence, I would have shouted it to the rooftops!

    1. You and me, all of us, have nothing to hide. We have never done anything wrong other than to be women of a certain age, told how to behave by parents who believed they were taking care of us by tradition. Now we can speak, without worrying about hurting anyone, most of all of ourselves. I guess that’s spectacular.

  3. I seriously hope that our generation has done a better job of educating our daughters and granddaughters and our sons as well, that ANY sexual misconduct is EXACTLY that, inappropriate, unwelcome and therefore unacceptable and to SHOUT, SHOUT at the top of your lungs! It will save a horrific emotional trauma and a crippling worthlessness that is not theirs or yours to carry. That asshole will think twice about his actions, and though you might be momentarily discomfited, my dearest hope is that the perpetrator’s humiliation will last a LIFETIME! My rant which I will discontinue here, because believe me, I have a hell of a lot to say on this subject!

    1. The sad thing is that I never gave any of these situations any thought in years until I saw that article. I’m not wanting to grace myself with victimhood, that’s not me. But, hell, why would any woman (me) think that that could ever be tolerable? How was I ever led to be thought that I should allow this? A semi–giant’s been semi-awakened. Maybe just spreading the word that this is not okay….would be okay?

      1. Absolutely! Someone, somewhere, sometime, will read it and red flags will go up and they’ll think twice about any thing happening to them or perhaps talk to their daughters and or sons too. soo good on ya! brava even woot woot btw, I think the world of you. You broach varied thought provoking topics with class, finesse and thoughtful consideration.

      2. I think the issue with Bill Cosby (if true) and I have no way of knowing that, Bill Clinton’s actions, and Trump’s actions have brought the issue to light and people are talking and considering these issues once again. The sad thing about Trump’s actions, though years ago, when made light of, demeans the ongoing struggle woman still face, and hence the reason no one comes forward when these and more horrific incidents occur. We think we are living in an age of enlightenment, but I sometimes wonder, when woman are still considered as “less than” and sex objects and humiliated and degraded and vilified when they speak the truth, particularly about public figures, if we’ve really come that far. Just a thought from a concerned woman!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.