Women, raise your hands if you've been sexually harassed by a man at some point in your life. That's what I thought. Sadly, being a woman often means you will face harassment, and more than once.
This reality is why Israeli-American director Sigal Avin and actor David Schwimmer have developed a series of six short films that show what harassment looks like for women in a variety of situations. Aptly, the newly-launched series is called #ThatsHarassment, and the six videos are all based on real incidents.
Each short story shows a different scenario involving a woman and a man, either a doctor, a boss, a photographer, or a co-worker, and enlists the talents of actors such as Cynthia Nixon, Emmy Rossum, and Michael Kelly.
Sadly, I can relate to the doctor story line. In fact, more than one man in the medical profession has made inappropriate comments about me in situations where I felt vulnerable. As a mom of three girls, knowing that men are out there who will likely feel they can harass them as well, of course makes my stomach churn.
Likewise, Schwimmer says he wanted to get involved with the #ThatsHarrassment project because every woman in his life has been harassed, except his daughter, because she is 6.
He told Cosmopolitan, "When you've been objectified your entire life and become accustomed to being a second-class citizen in many, many ways — constantly told that you aren't worth the same as men, basically, and that your body comes first, or what you look like comes first — it makes a lot more sense to me that a lot of women don't even recognize when they're being harassed. Because you spend your whole life not being treated with the kind of respect that men are automatically given."
I don't know if I completely agree with this statement—maybe because I was raised by parents who never made me feel like I was somehow not as good as my brother. And I hope to raise my three daughters with the same mindset: that they can do anything they want, and that their gender has nothing to do with it! That being said, of course I recognize that some men think they can harrass girls and women. My hope is that my daughters will know the signs of harrassment when they see them, and will refuse to tolerate it.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and soon-to-be mom of 4. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of yoga.