A few days ago I ran into a former work colleague I worked with a couple of years ago. Seeing him again left me feeling uneasy.
Our last interaction outside of work had been on a ski hill on a beautiful spring day and it had left me feeling dirty. He greeted me with a hug and proceeded to grab my bottom with both hands and make a comment about how great it was. I could smell alcohol on his breath.
The behaviour was so shockingly out of character for him I was left speechless and didn’t say anything. I still went up on the lifts with him and other friends, careful to maintain a distance.
Why did I stay silent? Why did I not use my voice and call him out on his unacceptable behaviour? Furthermore, why did I keep interacting with him after what he had done?
I lost my voice, because under the circumstances, it is an easy thing to do. When I look back at my past I can see where I stayed quiet time and again, it has now obviously become a pattern.
Had bumping into each other recently and saying hello been the extent of our interaction, I may have let all of this go. However he said he still had my number and would call; I jokingly said not to bother.
He’s since called twice and texted me, leaving me feeling highly uncomfortable. Do I respond and say something or ignore him and delete his texts? I ended up doing the latter.
What’s even more upsetting is my reaching out to my former partner who knows him saying I’d wish the guy in question would just lose my number and leave me alone.
His response was shocking and left me feeling very upset.
He told me to get over it. I responded saying he obviously does not understand what it’s like to be sexually objectified. That what he did was assault and it was not okay.
He asked me if I had dealt with things directly at the time the incident had happened. I was even more flabbergasted. I responded saying do most women? He accused me of evading the question. I then proceeded to tell him we were not going to have this conversation.
I was stunned. How could he have blinders on like that? He was so wrapped up in his male privilege that he could not see how wrong on so many levels this whole thing was.
How is this kind of behaviour and male privilege still a thing today? What would you do?