May 17, 2011

A Memory

One time, in college, I took out the trash late at night. A man followed me back to the door and squeezed my ass. I said something like, if you touch me again I'm going to hit you. He wrapped his arms around my body and tried to force himself through the door with me. I turned around, shoved him hard, and slipped through the door. He still had an arm inside, so I forced his arm out and slammed the door shut. He shook the door but it was locked -- all of the doors to the dorm were designed to lock automatically -- and then he pounded on the window as I ran up the stairs, back to my room.

At the time, I was just angry and incredulous. I never felt vulnerable because I was on a crowded campus, entering a dorm where hundreds of other students lived. I mean, what the fuck was he thinking? I don't know what he planned to do if he managed to get into the dorm, but I felt certain that nothing could happen to me there. I could just scream, right? My reaction was, what kind of idiot tries something here? I thought he might be mentally ill. I didn't call the police.

In retrospect, I should have notified the campus police. Just because he was being reckless and stupid, it doesn't mean nothing could have possibly happened to me. I don't know why someone would try to assault a student in a dorm building, where there are many other students and emergency phones. You'd think self-preservation would come first, a realization that you will not get away with this, and that there will be unhappy consequences when you inevitably get caught. But people do things that don't make sense.

As you might imagine, I'm thinking about this because of the DSK story. A lot of people don't believe an important man like him could possibly be so stupid. Assaulting someone in his own hotel room, with lots of other people in the building, and then forgetting his damn phone. Surely even if he were the type of man who sexually assaults women, he would come up with a smart, secret way to do it. You know, he'd use someone else's hotel room and wear a disguise.

DSK is innocent until proven guilty like anyone. But the hotel employee's story could absolutely be true. Men assault women where they could easily be caught, showing their own faces, in crowded buildings. I don't know why. But it happens all the time. "Why would he ever do that" is an interesting question, but it's not a defense.

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