Featured Image: Melinda Beck
We all have that creepy uncle. You know, the one who eyes all your aunties slack-jawed, foaming at the mouth while you and your cousins play hide and seek in the living room.
He’s not decent enough to try and hide it. The family knows. They know what he’s doing when he asks you to sit on his lap. They know what he’s doing when he asks your mom for more pictures every year. They know what’s happening when he accidentally walks in on you in the bathroom. Yet, every year he comes back to his seat at the table, ready to be welcomed with open arms.
And the family laughs with him. The family jokes with him. It’s an indoctrination to be preyed upon by him. It’s a ritual every cookout, every Christmas, every celebration — “Don’t go anywhere alone with Uncle Bo (or Dylan, or Rob, or Carlos)”, “Lock your bathroom door”, “Don’t wear shorts”, “Don’t bend down”, “Put your hair up”, “Don’t act grown.”
We’ve gotten used to him. And since you know the rules, you know it’s your fault when you break them. When something bad happens.
And if that’s true for Creepy Uncle, it’s true for your creepy boss. Your creepy friend. Your creepy boyfriend. Your creepy roommate. Your creepy teammate. Your creepy teacher. Your creep. Your fault. They all know that you haven’t been victimized or assaulted — you just broke the unspoken rules.
Your mom told you ever since you were little not to walk around late. Or be funny. Or be pretty. Or wear your favorite clothes. And how could you ring the alarm on someone so funny? So charismatic? So cool? What will happen to little old him if he was outed as a sexual predator? He does it to everyone. You’re the only one who has a problem. The thought that you could talk to HR and your coworker could be fired never crosses your mind. Neither does the thought that you could call the police on your creepy teacher. Because you were always taught you deserved to be sexualized by your Creepy Uncle.