Men Can Not Erase Me

This blog entry was submitted by Bronte Treat, who studied abroad in Granada, Spain.

“How do I tell a story women know all too well? And if it’s known, is it worth telling? Yes. In Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit writes, “The ability to tell your own story, in words or images, is already a victory, already a revolt.” So, here is my story, my revolt:

On my fourth day in Granada, I was sexually assaulted. Although the assault was frightening, what I find more troublesome is that it was inevitable. Sexual assault is certain. Violence against women is certain. This shouldn’t be true, but it is.

I was walking home on Calle Molinos and heard a group of men around the corner. Even in another language, I recognized the ominous sound of harassment or assault. It’s a sound that makes me stand taller, furrow my brows. Though, I know it won’t change the inevitable. As I turned the corner, I was met by a group of three men who immediately confirmed my suspicions.

The first man leaned in toward me and incessantly licked his lips, which really excited his friends. The second man reached toward me and groped my breast. The third man did nothing but laugh, which hurt too.

I said nothing, but kept walking. How do I tell men not to touch me when I don’t speak their language? I kept thinking, “If I spoke Spanish, I could have told them off.” I kept thinking, “If I spoke Spanish, they wouldn’t have touched me.” I kept thinking, “If I spoke Spanish, they would have learned a lesson.”

But none of that is true. It doesn’t matter which language I speak if men take my voice away through violence and fear. And even if I spoke Spanish fluently, I believe my words would have been stuck in my throat. My mouth would have remained closed, which is what they wanted. They wanted me to disappear.

Solnit says, “Some women get erased a little at a time, some all at once.” To those men, and every man before them who has tried to erase me, I’m not going anywhere. I am ink, not lead. And now, I am in print.  ”



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