I have spent the last few days pondering, reading about, reflecting on the terrible events in Isla Vitsa last Friday. I have read many articles discussing what happened. I have read the same amount discussing the Twitter movement YesAllWomen. I am not on Twitter. I just never got into it much. That doesn’t take away from the fact that I get what that movement is about. I am going to share a few of my stories. They take up more than 140 characters though.

I had my own encounter with someone like the gunman in my lifetime. In high school in fact. About 11-ish years ago. A lonely guy whom I shared one quarter in a classroom with. We happened to both be the only Seniors in the class. I happen to be the kind of girl that is kind to people. Especially if I feel they could use a friend. So, we ended up striking up many conversations. Perhaps on my end, even a friendship in that classroom.

He started writing me letters. They grew increasingly angry with the fact that I wouldn’t respond to him romantically. I remember at one point he pointed out the fact that I wouldn’t date guys like him, only those jock types. Which in all fairness was not true! I had recently ended my year and half relationship with my boyfriend and he never played any sports. I ignored the letters. I started sitting in a different seat. I started to not speak to him anymore. I started rushing in and out of the classroom to avoid him.

Then the quarter ended. I had to move on with the whole class to the next quarter. See I was able to waive Freshman Health and Keyboarding (HAHA) because I had been in band my Freshman year. However, once I decided to quit band after my Junior year, I had to actually take those classes as a Senior. This guy didn’t need to move on to the Health class. He had only needed Keyboarding.

I was appalled and terrified to learn that even though he could have used the time as study hall that he went out of his way to request being a Teacher’s Aid in MY Health class! Imagine my horror when I got to class the first day and saw him sitting up front with the teacher. I had thought that I was done with having to actually see him each day and feel uncomfortable. So, because I tend to be a pack rat at times, I still had the letters. I spoke to the teacher privately and gave her the letters. He was no longer a Teacher’s Aid in my classroom after that.

My husband and I were discussing this. Today, I could have literally been murdered over this. 11 years ago we weren’t seeing these kinds of lone gunman rampages quite like we are now. Columbine had happened a few years before, but it wasn’t consistent like today. It is scary to think that there are men out there who think it is ok to see women this way. To be ANGRY at us because we don’t respond to you the way you want us to. To think you know what and who we are attracted too simply because we are not attracted to you!

I then went on to think about all the different ways I have been marginalized as a woman. I once had a guy ask for my number. He in fact happened to be a “jock” I declined giving it to him. He laughed, turned to his friend, and said as if I were not still there “She must have a boyfriend then!” Or maybe, just maybe I thought you were not a person I wanted to spend time with. Just maybe?

In college I went to a barn dance. I was a Freshman. My date was a blind date. Thankfully I was out with a lot of other girls as well. I was briefly in a sorority (ehhh I don’t admit that often) I am pretty sure he slipped something in my drink because I got very drunk very fast. But I was never really alone with him, thankfully. At one point he said to me “So are we going to have sex or what?” Just like that! Like I was obliged to do that because he was a blind date at a stupid sorority barn dance! I declined his oh so gentlemanly offer. I stayed away from him after that.

As I met my husband I happened to be trying to avoid advances from another guy. He was very intense. He was a friend of a friend. A group of us all went downtown out for Pizza. As we sat at the table all talking, he said to our mutual friend “Sorry I didn’t hear what you said. I was too busy staring at the future mother of my children.” We had literally just met hours before. He was in the Army and headed to Alaska soon. He repeatedly asked me to come with him. Finally he lamented that “I need someone to keep me warm in the cold” I replied “Why don’t you just bring an extra blanket” Unfortunately my friend gave him my number. I then proceeded to be called by him daily. He left lengthy voicemails. I never answered his calls. I did not want to speak with him. On the last message he was angry sounding and wanted me to call him to let him know if I didn’t want to speak with him. That I owed him that at least. This all happened as I really did meet my future husband. We had just started seeing one another. I played the voicemails for him. He was appalled by them and definitely creeped out by this guy. We never did run into him again though, thankfully.

I had just come from a hair run through for my wedding. I was in the elevator of our condo building. My husband (fiance at the time) and I had been living there together for a couple years. I was carrying my veil in my hand. A man who presumably lived there too stepped into the elevator with me. I happened to have a blue dress on that ended above my knees. With heels. Just carrying my veil waiting for the 9 floors I needed to ride to get to our unit. This man turns to me and says “You have killer legs” I just looked at him horrified! I was really creeped out. He inched closer to me. I never sputtered out a response even. After he got closer he said “What? Don’t pretend like you haven’t heard that before!” I still didn’t say anything. I wanted nothing more than to be off that elevator. As the doors finally opened and I walked off he said “By the way, congratulations!” I was so creeped out and disgusted.

The saddest part about all of this? I have been with my husband for 9 years this July/August. We met 9 years ago at the end of July. We started becoming inseparable probably half a month or so after we met. All but ONE of those above happened before I met him. We met when I was 20. I was dealing with all of that as a teenager. And those are just the big moments that are seared into my brain. What about all the random cat calls as I run around the neighborhood? Or when I was out walking with my girlfriends? In the last couple years since we moved to the suburbs I have still had men whistle and beep at me when I have been out running.

It is not ok to treat women like we are objects to do with what you please when you please. We are human beings. We are daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, aunts, cousins. We are people. We are not on this earth to make men feel better about their own sexual prowess.

I have two boys. Or rather, I will have two boys come this fall. I am responsible for teaching them that they cannot treat women this way. I will be sharing my stories with them as they becomes teenagers and adolescents. My husband sets a great example for them. He is a good guy. He is respectful of women. He already teaches our son to tell me that I am beautiful and wonderful. To be kind, loving, and respectful to me. I want to teach them to stand up to this kind of behavior. They may not do it themselves, but when they see others demeaning a woman in this manner, that they need to have a voice about it. Would they want someone to treat their momma that way? Their THREE female cousins that way? So I am going to do my best to help shape a generation of men that don’t demean women in the ways I have experienced. I am going to do my best to raise men that understand we are people too and deserve to be treated with kindness, understanding, acceptance, and respect. And if a girl doesn’t like them the way they wish she did? Well, it hurts, but you move on and let it go.