Just to warn you up front, I’m choosing to put the kink on the shelf this week in an effort to clear up a misconception that surprisingly still exists.
Since I landed this gig, I’ve been no stranger to sexual flirtation. Most instances have been good-humored and harmless; some are borderline offensive. I can accept some level of creepiness, because hey, I write a racy column. It comes with the territory, as they say.
There was one invitation, however, that scared me a little. A student used my unlisted personal information to contact me, making a lewd suggestion — accompanied by some revealing pictures — that I felt was over the line. Legal or not, I felt it needed attention. An individual this aggressive in his pursuit may have more tricks up his sleeve.
What shook me to the core, however, were not this person’s actions. Oh, no. The real horror came when I took it up with the Isla Vista Foot Patrol. The officer on duty just couldn’t seem to help himself.
“Are you joking?” he said.
Stunned silence from my end. Was he joking?
He continued. “Are you being serious about your concern over this? You write a sex column. I’m surprised you don’t get this more often.”
Like a churchgoer addressing the unrepentant town bicycle, the officer snickered over what I must have written in my column — which he’s never read — to warrant this behavior. Never mind the fact that I was shaken up over the incident. Never mind that I felt this was anything but a laughing matter. It seemed as though the only relevant matter was that I was the queen of inappropriate dinner conversation.
I was completely dumbstruck. I was one of the rare people who had never had a negative experience with a police officer. Never before had I been slapped with such a cliché case of “you were asking for it,” let alone by a person hired to protect me.
He went on to explain that no crime had been committed, and that if the offender persisted, I should contact IVFP immediately. Fine. Had he said this from the get-go, I would have been a happy camper. But it was his blatant inability to separate personal from professional that infuriated me. His “act like a slut and be treated like a slut” attitude was palpable, and I wondered if this was the same attitude he took to the streets of Isla Vista every Saturday night.
Or perhaps he felt the incident itself was not worth his time. After all, there are far greater matters to attend to, like sting operations outside of SOS Liquor.
Having been treated like a joke, I now have nowhere to take my fear. I went to the police because I felt legitimately threatened, and instead of feeling like they were on my team, I was only further debased. In my moment of vulnerability, I was told my feelings were invalid and stupid. It scares me to think of how many women shy away from the police for this very reason, afraid their feelings of violation will be written off as oversensitivity. To me, this attitude translates to, “Come back when you’re raped.”
If a police officer represents everything just about a town, then I’m starting to believe there’s more injustice in our town than I can comprehend.
For all Isla Vistans who didn’t get the memo: No girl, regardless of risqué behavior or attire, is ever deserving of sexual harassment. Whether she struts down Del Playa Drive wearing lingerie, pole-dances at parties or boasts of her outlandish sexual exploits, your right to grab her ass, lift her skirt or violate her privacy is nonexistent without her consent. And keep in mind that what you perceive as unspoken consent is often no form of consent at all. When in doubt, it never hurts to ask.
I would give anything to have faith that our law enforcement is not only protecting our women, but also providing them a sanctuary, free of judgment. If you’ve had a similar experience in which you’ve felt belittled or condemned by police officers when you’ve come to them for help, I encourage you to speak out. Justice should be blind, and it’s up to us to keep it in check.
Great article! Sorry the IV Foot Patrol guy was such a jerk – hopefully this will wake them up.
I’m so sick of having my feelings treated as invalid when it comes to sexual harassment. Just because it isn’t always illegal that does not make it okay.
thank you for writing this.
I had a VERY bad experience with the ivfp this summer of a similar nature where I went to report something pretty serious and they started lecturing me about my drinking and partying habits and were completely talking down to me. It made me furious and I ended up writing a letter to the officer explaining to him why his behavior towards me was inappropriate. I withheld from writing a letter to his supervisor, but I wish I did, IV needs cops who understand that no girl deserves to be harassed or attacked, no matter what she drank, said, or… Read more »