Turning 25 by Kacie Lyn Kocher

In just a few days, I will be turning 25. I actually never bring up my age, especially holding a leadership position in a place where I have experienced age discrimination in many different environments. Yet, I am out in the open for this post.
You may ask, Why do I bring it up? Well, the United Nations, the US Department of Justice, and the UK’s National Health Services (NHS)–and other bodies like them — report that women between the ages of 16 to 24 are the most likely to be victims of harassment. By turning 25, I will officially be in the clear and free to roam the streets without fear of harassment, right? Somehow, I am a little hesitant to think that the passing of the 12th to the 13th will lift a great pressure from my shoulders. I fail to believe that on March 13th I will be able to look people in the eyes when I walk down the streets — that on March 13th I will feel comfortable, safe, and dignified riding a bus or walking to meet my friends at a cafe. Essentially, I can’t bring myself to believe that on March 13th I will be able to have the same leisure and comfort that many of my male friends have as their daily reality: to be a person in public spaces, without fear of others, constant consciousness of my body language, and the uncertainty of whether that stranger’s hand on my butt is just an accident.
Although these numbers and statistics upheld by these authoritative organizations shed light on the fact that harassment is a HUGE problem for at least half of the population, this grossly simplifies the actual issue. At the core of the real issue is the fact that I can expect to be harassed for the next five, ten, or even 35 years. One of our stories was from a woman who was harassed by a stranger in Istanbul while she was sixty years old! Street harassment is about power, not sex. It happens to children below the age of ten and adults above the age of forty. It’s not about thin, long-haired 18 year old young ladies in short skirts and tight tops. It’s about a harasser’s threat of aggression and dominance to show me that they can put me in my place. For me to think that the worst is over come March 13th is misguided and ignorant. For me to think that on March 13th I enter another year of my life where I can be supportive of other victims and active in making real progress happen — now that’s more like it. Together we can bring issues of street harassment and other gender based violence to light. Together we can break the silence.

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