"Okay, so I thought about this question a lot before I feel asleep, and in between the tossing and turning I did all night, and in the hours following waking up. The problem is that I have too many stories. And most of them I barely remember because it “wasn’t a big deal.” And maybe that’s flawed. Because it is a big deal, but most of us just take it, because what else are we to do? Especially if no laws are broken? I will give you just a few stories out of the many. People reading this may brush it off, think it’s not big deal, feel I’m being an overly sensitive girl, and just believe I need to get over it because it’s what we should expect being in the wedding industry. I tell myself that all the time. But after thinking about this for awhile now, I realize it’s not okay. Just because it happens does not mean it’s okay and should be deemed as normal.
I have been groped many times while walking through a drunken dancing crowd at a reception, holding my camera high above my head and firing off shots to get some fun dancing photos for the couple. Some may ask, “Well how do you know you were actually groped? You were walking through a crowd of people”. Oh, we know. We know the difference between being bumped and accidentally having your hands graze over us… typically those people will acknowledge it and say they’re sorry more than once. When you are groped, you feel the hand on your butt, your thigh, and sometimes even your breast. And they are pretty good at what they do. You both know what just happened, but you can’t really call it out because they do it subtly and they know it.
The sexual comments, suggestive words , and innuendos are endless. Honestly most of the time I just ignore them because there’s not much else you can do. You want the day to stay as smooth as possible for the couple, and to call someone out and risk the person you’re calling out getting pissed off and not cooperating for anything further is something I never want to deal with. In my personal experiences, calling someone out who is isn’t scared to say nasty things to you never ends well. I have told numerous guys (typically groomsmen), at numerous weddings that I am married, and they still don’t back off, or they’ll say something along the lines of “well he’s not here right now is he?”. It get’s old real fast. I have heard so many comments about my ass from groomsmen who think I don’t hear them. But their whispering comments are usually not so quiet.
One of my last weddings I was standing on the outside of a circle of people dancing at a reception. I was getting some shots, and suddenly I felt someone pressed against me. A male guest was literally dancing all up on my side. Grinding and rubbing on me with his hands high in the air. I didn’t know what to do. Cause a scene? Lash out at him? Draw attention? So I completely ignored it. I continued taking photos as if nothing was happening which I think made him feel stupid. He stopped after about 6 or so seconds, said he was sorry, then went into the crowd dancing.
Earlier this year there was a man probably in his 50’s who kept trying to flirt with me before, during, and after the ceremony, WHILE I was working and taking photos. I was ignoring him, trying to give him a hint. Then randomly during the reception, he walked up to me and covered my face with his whole hand. In front of everyone. Like put his open hand on my face, covering my eyes, nose, and mouth. He then took it off and said “haha I love you!” and walked away. What the hell. No one said anything. No one did anything. He walked over and sat with his wife and his wife was giving me the evil eye the rest of the night. The two specific events I just wrote out may not seem like a big deal. I downplay them to no end, constantly comparing them to other assaults I’ve been subjected to in my life - much more violating, much worse than what I just described. But the comparison is not okay. It downplays events that just aren’t right.
So, how did these events make me feel? My first initial response would have been just to say it made me feel annoyed. And that would be it. But I took the time to really think about these things. To let myself acknowledge how it truly made me feel, without comparing to other life events. And the feelings it brought up are annoyance, anger, fear, violation, apprehension, confusion, and loneliness. And honestly, I am scared walking to my car after every wedding. It’s late, it’s dark, there are drunk guests, and if I am not groped, or assaulted in some way minor or not, I have been eyeballed by at LEAST one man all night, and have had men come on to me. And they’re usually intoxicated. And it’s not just men. There was one woman this last year who went too far with her flirting as well, and I got nervous and had to run out of the room she was in with me. It was just she and I, and she got too handsy. I am always on edge and looking around as I walk to my car. And I lock the doors as soon as I get in. No one should have to feel that way. No one ever said anything to these guys when a room full of people saw these things. Nobody ever talks the groomsmen down when they make sexual comments and gestures to me in front of the whole wedding party - male and female… no one says anything. So I don’t either. And it’s not okay. It is NOT okay.