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June 25, 2017 / thackersam

I’m Telling You Now

When I was 21, Danny Dobin grabbed my breast. He snuck up from behind me as I sat in for the receptionist at the front desk. It was my first real job. I was file clerk and relief receptionist for a fabric manufacturer on 34th and 10th, and it was so long ago that having nothing in the immediate area, we anxiously awaited the McDonald’s that still encompasses the corner. The Javits Center would not come for years, and the YMCA was not yet a fitness center and housed wayward men.

Danny Dobin was a VP in his mid-30s with a family connection to the business. He had a picture of his wife in the bath on his office wall, the office that was behind the front desk, making his stealthy tit-grabbing possible. The grabbing of my right breast, as I clearly recall, caused me to jump. I was stunned and baffled, as he just moved from behind me out the office door and while he passed the openings that surrounded the front desk, he shamelessly smiled at me and said, “I couldn’t resist.”

My response was typical. I gave one of those smiles, the smile that we give when we think we have to accept something that is so totally wrong, stifled by that feeling of being violated or that this somehow was our fault. It’s a really dumb look and a dumb response that I have since abandoned, although it took a while. Though you may not think it’s an offense punishable by death, I should have killed him. Or maybe just punched him so hard in the nuts that my fist would exit through his mouth. In other words, he got off scot- free, yet I’m reminded of it now and then, and it still pisses me off.

When I was a little girl, splashing about alone in a public pool, probably at a relative’s country club or possibly the Ronjo Motel in Montauk where we would go for summer vacations, I felt this sudden and startling grab to my crotch under the water. A boy popped his head out of the water laughing as a group of his little jerk-ass friends just a couple of feet away joined his laughter as they swam away. I can’t still describe in words how I felt, but when I try, I recognize the feeling. I can only say that it involved confusion. I didn’t have parents that would respond to something like that, so I also felt quite alone.

But when an incident occurred some years ago involving a young boy assaulting a young girl in the same manner, a stink was made of it. Someone responded and the boy was being charged with a crime. I don’t recall how severe, however I remember Bill Maher speaking out in defense of the boy saying he was too young to understand what he was doing, without any regard to the young girl, the victim, and how this sexual assault would affect her. I don’t recall the ages of the children involved, but the boy I believe may have been 10 or 11, and I also don’t recall what the outcome was, except that, aside from his movie Religulous, which was great and highly recommended by me, I no longer watch Bill Maher cause he’s often a big, stupid jerk.

Point being, these boys will be boys antics have long-lasting effects on their victims. You put something inside a woman or a girl, even the tip of a finger through the bottom of a bathing suit, that she doesn’t want there, that’s rape. Would I charge a ten-year-old with rape for doing that? Of course not. I don’t even think he should be forever listed on a sex offender registry, unless the offense continues. But he must be punished. He done wrong and he must pay the consequences. He must learn that it is wrong, that he cannot go around assaulting girls, and he should be taught how the victim feels. And the victim – she needs validation. They don’t know what they’re doing? Please. They know. I know they know.

And it’s isolating, particularly if you don’t feel that you can tell anyone. This in fact, may be the very first time I’ve told anyone of my swimming pool assault, and while I did share my Dobin attack with a co-worker, I never reported it. There was no support back then for sexual assault and harassment in the workplace, and even today, the assaults continue, though it’s harder for those who think they’re above it all to get away with. Maybe that’s why Bill O’Reilly and dickwads of his ilk want a return to “traditional values,” in which men can continue their ill treatment of women and girls, because after all boys will be boys.

I’ve no clue what set me off on this tirade. It wasn’t the Bill Cosby verdict, which I think we all could have predicted as soon as we saw the primary accuser in the case with her Phil Specter hairdo, doing herself no favors. I believe her but am not enraged at the outcome. He’s ruined anyway, rightfully in my eyes. So nothing specific pushed my outrage button today. Just general injustice.

On another note in recognition of today’s Pride Parade: I think of my brother often, though it’s been more than 30 years since he died of AIDS. I wonder what he’d be wearing today.

BTW – Yesterday as I was waiting on the checkout line at my Gristedes market, their radio station, which I must find, was playing “I’m Telling You Now,” by Freddie and the Dreamers, who were part of the British invasion of the early-mid ‘60s. They made several appearances on the Ed Sullivan show, and we all learned how to “Do The Freddie.” I started singing along, quietly to myself. Yes, there was some movement involved. I looked around and realized that I was probably the only one in the store that not only knew this song, but could also sing along. “I’m telling you now, I know it’s been said before…”

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