Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Karla Pomeroy
Editor 

Karla's Kolumn: Don't blame them

 

December 2, 2017

Don't blame them.

Don't blame them or judge them until you know them.

Don't blame them or judge them until you've been where they've been.

Don't blame them or judge them until you've walked in their shoes.

Who are they? They are the many victims who have come forward regarding sexual misconduct and sexual assault against politicians, would-be politicians, Hollywood insiders and others.

I made that mistake when everything erupted through the main stream media. I wasn't judging them for what happened; but rather I as (what I perceive myself to be) a strong, independent, mature, woman, wondered why they did not speak up sooner? I asked myself why they did not stand up for themselves back then? Why they did not feel themselves worthy of speaking out and fighting back, back then.

But then, the other day, I was driving back to work after lunch, and I thought rather than think of what I would do now, I should think of what I would have done then when I was their age.

Memories are funny things. Some we keep close to the surface and others we bury - some just under the surface, others are buried deep. I guess this memory was buried fairly deep as I have not thought about it in years. It did not come to mind right away and I think or hope that is healthy.

In fact, after the allegation floodgates opened and the #metoo started I even told my husband I had never been assaulted. I was right in a sense, I have never been sexually harassed or assaulted by a colleague or a boss.

However, when I was in high school, working at my summer job, back when I was young and naïve, a man, who probably was old enough to be my father, kept coming in the snack bar where I worked. My sister babysat for him and his wife. We knew the family and the kids. I did not give it a second thought about visiting with him.

One shift we began talking about how my birthday was coming up later that week and we were also talking about his motorcycle. I mentioned I had not been on a motorcycle. He offered a ride. Due to my naivete, I was thinking of a short quick ride before heading home. I was naïve enough to think there was nothing wrong with that plan. I was wrong. He had other plans.

He drove to a place where the teens usually park to make out. I remember asking nervously what he was doing. I can't remember his exact response. We had both gotten off the motorcycle. I was standing with my back to him thinking how I ended up here and how to get myself out of this situation. I was completely and totally uncomfortable and had let him know that. I remember he walked up behind me. I wanted to run but it was dark, I was several miles from home and work where I had left my car. I wasn't sure what to do.

I told him I needed to get back, that we needed to go. Perhaps through time I don't remember all the details but I know he grabbed me and kissed me. I know it was not something I wanted. I pushed away said we needed to go. The last thing I wanted was to get back on the motorcycle with him but I needed to get back to my car, and back home.

I don't recall saying anything else to him, just getting in my car and driving home. I wanted to cry, I wanted to scream. I was mad at myself, I was embarrassed and ashamed, ashamed that I was stupid enough to put myself in that kind of position, ashamed that perhaps I had done something to encourage him.

As I was wrestling with all of this at home, my mother could tell something was wrong. My mom at the time was one of my closest friends. I eventually told my mother that night. I don't remember, or don't want to remember, everything that night. I just remember how angry my mother was and how after that she no longer allowed my sister to babysit for them.

I could never look at him again, tried avoiding him when he would come in to the snack bar as much as possible. I never told anyone in authority, only my mother and my best friend later.

But I understand why the women coming forward now did not come forward then. I dont blame them or judge them. I have walked in their shoes. I have felt what they have felt.

Believe the women in the news or not, but do not judge them or blame them.

I don't know whether all the allegations coming out now are real or not, but I do know my memory is real.

I also know, in reflection, that it does not matter what I may have said or done. What matters is I was uncomfortable. I told him no and I told him to take me home and he took something, albeit "just a kiss" that wasn't his to take.

You see it doesn't matter how a woman dresses, it doesn't matter her occupation, it doesn't matter what she may have consented to before. What matters is if the woman, or even a man is uncomfortable in a situation, if she says no, she means no. There is no grey area here. A woman, or again, even a man, has a right to say no to behavior or actions that are unwanted and make them uncomfortable. Any action between two people needs to be consensual, every time. Again, this is straight forward, black and white.

Unfortunately, I bet you, or someone you know may even have a similar memory as mine.

And, while even though at first I did not want to admit, I can say #metoo, I hope that going forward in our country and world today, fewer and fewer women will have to say #metoo.

 
 

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