I didn’t want to write this. In fact, even though I felt the need to write this I kept putting it off every time I had a minute to think about writing it. But today that I’m stuck in traffic on the bus I feel like I might as well do it. When the #metoo movement blew up in social media I stayed silent because I had no urge to relive past experiences. But this is something that happened a month ago. And for many, it may not seem like a huge deal and even for me as it happened, I questioned whether it was actually happening on purpose or if it was just an accident.
I went to Comic Con Revolution Ontario with my daughter. She dressed up as Valkyrie and I dressed up as Black Widow. When we walked on the hallway I saw someone dressed as “The Bat that laughs” and I thought his costume looked really cool so I asked him to take a picture with me. He said yes and to “give him a minute.” I turned around and looked at my daughter who was going to take the picture with my phone. As I waited I felt his hand getting close to my neck and I froze, but I raised my hands up as if to try to block him. You can see it in the picture. He put his hand close to my neck, like he was choking me. He didn’t actually place his hand on my neck and I realized he was trying to make it seem like he was choking me. I understand there’s cosplay and many people act like the character they are dressed as but I still felt really uncomfortable. Also, as his hand got close to my neck he very subtly and slowly brushed his fingers against my breast. Now, I am very endowed and it could have been a mistake, I wanted to think that and as it happened and later after I saw the photo I saw that his costume is blocking his eyes so maybe he couldn’t see very well. But he still should have asked if it was okay to get that close to me. I know that I asked for the picture but that didn’t mean I gave him implicit permission to get that close to me. The point is, he didn’t ask and I didn’t give consent. And I’m angry with myself because I froze and didn’t say anything, especially in front of my daughter. How am I so supposed to set an example for her if I didn’t do or say anything?
So I knew that at the very least, I needed to write something. But it is still hard, even this little unconformable moment is hard to write about, more than a month later, and people still ask why did Dr. Christine Blasey Ford wait so long to speak out against Brett Kavanaugh?
Logical questions always come to mind:
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
“Why didn’t you do anything?”
Maybe it’s because we’ve been taught for so long that our experiences mean nothing. “Oh it was nothing, just get over it.”
Maybe it’s because it’s incredibly hard to speak up. Maybe it’s because we’ve been silent for so long.
I’ve always hated the saying in Spanish “El hombre llega hasta donde la mujer quiere,” “Man will go as far as the woman wants him to.” Because all the burden is on us, like we have to be responsible for mens’ behavior. I shouldn’t have to say no, he is the one who should ask first. The assumption that men have a right to our bodies unless we verbally or physically refuse needs to be considered part of the past.
I told my husband what happened and he also wondered if perhaps the costume was blocking his view but I had to remind him that he didn’t even ask if he could get that close in the first place.
Later that evening we went to a free H20 concert and I guess my husband was thinking about my experience when he took a photo with punk rock youtuber Erin Micklow. He didn’t hug her and had his hands in front. He later saw it and said he looked too “innocent.” Once again I had to remind him that all he had to do was ask.
Why is that so hard to grasp? I guess that as a society we’re just not used to that, which makes me think we have to do a lot of work in promoting consent.
Tony Kanal from No Doubt played one song with H20 and then passed by us quickly. I didn’t ask to take a picture.
Oh and for another clue as to how to take a picture with someone with less chance of making them uncomfortable, here’s Keanu Reeves with some examples: