Viva logo

Patriarchy found me

by Susan Lee 27 days ago in feminism

Why are guys the way they are? A rude awakening...

Patriarchy found me
yours truly beaming with happiness in NYC

Patriarchy found me.

Maybe because it was Christmas Day, maybe because it was the Christmas carols I heard on my Spotify list, but I found myself drinking a glass of wine and wondering how I ended up alone on this day. It wasn't because of the lack of other options or because of the Coronovirus. It was because of the fact that I am an inconvenient woman and because patriarchy is evil and it sucks. Over the last two days, I realized that two men from my alma mater had taken advantage of me on two separate occasions when I was inebriated after consuming alcohol with them and I was not able to give consent.

When the realization of this incident sank in, I tried to put words to what I felt. Was it shock? Was it anger? Was it incredulity? Was it all of the above? One of the guys was three years older than me. The other guy was an RA at my dorm at my alma mater where I was also a staff member. These guys whom I had trusted and were middle-class and were affluent and went onto higher institutions of learning (graduate school) violated and wronged me. I tried to send them emails yesterday but they did not respond. But their silence says everything -- it is almost an admission of their guilt. These guys knew my sensitivity to gender-based violence issues given the fact that there is a high rate of domestic violence and in the immigrant community. They were familiar with Korean culture and Korea as a country and its history of comfort women being used as war slaves and sex slaves during the colonial period by the Japanese authorities. Yet they wronged me and my body. Was it my drinking that led to this happening? Was it the fact that I was inebriated? Absolutely no - hell no. They had drank as well but I didn't take advantage of them against their will.

How did this happen? I never thought that "anything bad" would happen to me. But then I never would have imagined that the Coronovirus would happen either. But at the same time, I am not surprised that this happened to me. I happened to listen to a lecture by Anne Firth Murray from Stanford yesterday, who stated "80 percent of women all across the world experience gender-based violence (including sexual violence)" at some point. This includes rape, domestic violence, trafficking, sexual harassment, sexual assault, FGM (female gender mutilation) reproductive coercion and reproductive injustice. 1 out of three women in the U.S. and in the world experience domestic violence. These brutal statistics show that women are subjected to trench warfare just because of our genders -- almost since the moment of our birth. As I think about this incident and also reflect on the inappropriate behaviors and misconduct by dates and even acquaintances this past year, I find myself warding off a string of sexual harassment and unwanted incidents even during this era of the #MeToo movement.

And I feel horrible about what happened and my body is grieving. Ironically, as I wrote in my last essay "An homage to my body" regarding Nobel Prize in Literature Laureate's Louis Gluck's poem "Crossroads," my body deserves and longs for justice. There is going to be and shall be a reckoning for gender-based violence in this world someday, hopefully in the near future. My lived experience and stories from other women and victims and survivors of gender-based violence need to be told and shared.

Why are guys like this? Is it the way they are raised? Is it the messages they have received about women all their lives? Is it the barrage of sexualized media or the objectification of women everywhere? Is it the way women are expected to be objects of the male gaze?

I spent almost all of today in a surreal dreamlike state where I made calls, contacted the Stanford CARE hotline (where to my dismay, one of the staff manning the hotline hung up on me) and contacted people I thought I should in a perfunctory state. When I called the Stanford CARE hotline, I had to call twice because the first staff member hung up the phone on me -- she tried to talk over me as I was sharing my story (and being retraumatized in the process) and suggested that "I get over what happened" as if something like this should be "dealt with" and as if something like this is a normal occurrence! What the hell. I had to contact the hotline again and met a friendlier voice, but one who ultimately also was in a hurry to get off the phone with me. This suggests and is in line with a survey that Stanford University released last year regarding sexual misconduct on campus that students (undergraduate and graduate students, especially female) are reluctant to report incidents of sexual harassment and assault because they fear indifference and inaction by the administrators. Almost rattled from these chain of events, I went out and grabbed a bottle of wine to numb whatever this is I am feeling and I hope that you who are reading this -- especially the guys who wronged me yet are silent about it -- will pause and think about how their misconduct and violations have affected and will not only affect me, but also future generations. The two aforementioned guys have children and are supposedly "role models" and breadwinners of their family. But will my story be known and revealed to their kids? How does my story fit into their "perfect" lives at the end of the day? It doesn't - exactly because I am an inconvenient woman. And the two of you whom I am addressing - you know WHO YOU ARE - will face a reckoning with me and my body -- my precious, sacred body -- one day because I WILL NOT BE SILENT. I did not work so hard to get into one of the most prestigious universities in the world, only to be treated like some sex object where men can move onto the next victim. This is the message and call that the Universe has sent me during this holiday season, on the Eve of 2021 -- that this is a stark reminder to me and to other women to not slumber but to be resilient and to voice ourselves because patriarchy is no excuse for sexual misconduct and bullshit.

Susan Lee
Susan Lee
Read next: The State
Susan Lee

I graduated from Stanford University in 2002 with a BA in International Relations and a minor in Psychology and have a Masters in International Affairs from Georgetown University.

See all posts by Susan Lee