Rachel G.’s story: What gives them that right?

On top of being a full time student, I have a part time job at my university. On one Monday morning that had already been difficult for me, I was walking around a building on campus running errands for my boss when I walked by two guys sitting on a bench. I heard one of them make a noise that sounded like a dog barking but I assumed they were joking with each other and continued walking. A few minutes later, I walked by them again and heard the noise again, followed shortly after by a comment, of which I only caught the end… “I like her earrings though”. At this point, I realized, they were saying something about me. I was wearing particularly large and shiny earrings that day, one of my favorite pairs, and had received a few compliments, all of which had made me feel good. None of them had made me feel uncomfortable until I walked by those jackasses. At this point I went to the bathroom and attempted to waste a few minutes hoping they would go away but of course, they did not. Sure enough, when I walked by the third time, they made that noise twice and said something again, this time about my ass. Unfortunately, I was wearing my work uniform at the time so I had to resist the urge to turn around, flip them off, lecture them on respect and tell them to go fuck themselves which was extremely difficult for me. I almost never let those kinds of things go and I certainly never rely on anyone else to stand up for me, I believe that empowers the harasser. Instead, I marched into my boss’ office and told her what had happened. My boss then called someone higher up on the chain of command who came, spoke with me for a minute about what happened and then went to talk to the harassers. Even though they went away, I didn’t feel any better. What gives them the right to harass me at work? To put me in a position where I had to either stick up for myself and risk my job or to let it go? Who are they to cause me to have to go so very far against my morals and values? To make it so that I have to get a man to go and defend my honor instead? What the hell gives them that right?

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