It’s Okay to Be Rude

Ilana Quinn
6 min readMay 30, 2022

What I wish I had known earlier about dealing with sexual harassment

Photo by Maël Balland on Pexels

The first time I was harassed, I was barely thirteen.

Standing outside the grocery store where my dad was helping my grandma choose some things to bring back to her apartment, I waited with our new puppy on the sidewalk. It was busy and hot, the sun battering the pavement and the exhaust from cars clouding in the air.

A man older than my father approached, petting our new puppy without asking. He then launched into a speech about how pretty I was, followed by an onslaught of questions begging to know my address, my phone number, my age and whether my parents were around.

I told him I was just thirteen.

He laughed, but was not dissuaded. I noticed how his eyes lingered in uncomfortable places for longer than I wanted them to. As he leaned close to me, I caught a whiff of alcohol from his faded t-shirt. Eventually, I ran inside.

The entire time, I was afraid he would think of my response to his questions as rude or over-dramatic.

Perhaps, he was just trying to be nice.

The second time it happened, I was on the school-bus and someone groped me. I couldn’t see who did it — the bus was brimming with people and I was too scared to turn around at first — but it felt like someone had just poured hot coals onto my skin.

The third time it happened, I was in the parking lot of my church, playing Frisbee with a couple of girls from the youth group. I was wearing my new blue jeans and a matching top, proud of my carefully assembled outfit.

A shirtless guy from one of the neighboring houses in his fifties or sixties sauntered over to join our game, offering us beer, even though we were clearly underage. We all declined, but my two friends chatted with him and his friend, which made me tense with discomfort.

After falling silent for a couple of moments, his friend asked him which one of us he would date.When he noticed my refusal to engage with him, he pointed to me and declared: “I like the one in blue. I’ll take that one.”

I had never felt so mortified.

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Ilana Quinn

I am a university student who writes under a pseudonym about history, life and faith. https://linktr.ee/ilanaquinn