The first time I acknowledged it was time to STOP making excuses.
I ask myself, time and time again “WHY do I keep making excuses”, “oh it’s all in my head,” “there’s no way he did that deliberately.” And then, the other day, I stopped. I got into the elevator at work, pressed the “down” button, both nervous and excited to be going for a “second” interview in a law firm in Sandton.
On the way down to the basement where my car is parked a man got in who was holding some boxes and making deliveries I am assuming as I have not seen him since. I immediately felt uncomfortable. Perhaps he was standing too close to me in the relatively large elevator, but worse than that, he brushed up close to me, ran his hands across my breasts and pushed the elevator buttons to the floor he was going to.
I was dressed in usual interview attire, shirt buttoned up high, skirt the “correct length” etc (not that this matters, even if I had been in a teensy tiny skirt and next to nothing top, this does not amount to any sort of justification.) He entered my space and made me feel dirty. I was shocked, it all happened so quickly that I wasn’t even sure it had actually occured. The elevator moves so quickly in our building that by the time I had realised what had happened I was leaping out of it and exclaiming angrily “excuse me!!” anger, hurt and shock emanating from my pores.
WHY did I say “excuse me!?” I should’ve said “STOP THAT. My body is MINE, not yours to violate and touch as though I have asked you to know me in that intimate way.” I was angry. Angry with this man, but more importantly, angry with myself for not speaking out and telling him off. How many times do we as women, make excuses for men like that? I know I do, “oh, I’m sure he didn’t mean it; the elevator was crowded; I was standing too close to the elevator buttons.” NO. ENOUGH of the excuses. He knew EXACTLY what he was doing and sadly, got away with it.
This time I spoke out about it, I told my boss, I told my family, I told my friends. Next time (I hope there isn’t one, but if there is) I plan to smack his hand away and tell him exactly where to go.