I was walking home with my husband a few weeks back, when he asked why I don’t walk across the bridge, why do I now walk the longer way home. I responded to him, with what I saw as an obvious response ‘well encase I get attacked or.... raped’ his response ‘oh I have never had to think of that’. His response was so natural and normal and I responded, ‘of course you don’t’.
It sat with me though, something festered about it and I realised, that’s his male privilege right there, imagine going 33 years through life without once having to think of the fear of possible rape or sexual assault.
Since being a young girl, it’s been part of my safety awareness, I remember walking to brownies with my cousin and being followed, since being a young girl I have had safety running through my brain every day. It comes every night I walk home in the dark, every time I do something alone, everytime a male walks too close on the street and I realised that festering I was feeling came down to that, right there, how easy it must be to be a male in this society.
So then it came to the #MeToo campaign, I saw it, I questioned it and suddenly I realised how could I not be part of it. I campaign in my own way, on my own issues, and I felt with this one, how could I go to work every day working with vulnerable young women and not stand in solidarity and share my experience as a woman. Isn’t that how change is made, by talking and sharing about problems such as this. It's choice though, isn’t it, it’s not how everyone choses to share but it’s also that people don’t recognise what sexual assault is, they don’t realise that a grope in a night club or flashing of a genitals is assault, isn’t that just what men do, isn’t that banter? I have heard this so many times, from friends, from myself, from the young people I work with, it’s so sad that’s the culture we come to believe this behaviour is okay and as women we just have to accept it.
I have sat with many male and female friends and discussed what sexual violence is, how women end up in situations with no choice. I have discussed strip clubs till I am blue in the face, and tried to explain has that women chose to be there, and even if she has what is that choice about, do you feel a women wants to stand in a club with men trying to grab a feel. I talk and talk and attempt to share as much as i can, as if it changes one person’s thoughts, lets them think in a different way, isn’t that enough.
I am not an expert, I work in this area, I have carried out a lot of training in this area but mostly I am a woman who has had her body used in a way that didn't feel good, who has felt it was the only way to feel love, who has been broken to the point of no self-worth, emotionally and at times physically. I made a choice to engage in the choices I did but I also felt if it wasn’t for my body and what it could give I wouldn’t get back what I thought I needed at that time.
As a young women and a women the body is a constant battle ground, we battle enough without the expectations males put on us. I hear many times in the counselling space how women have come to hate their bodies due to the violence placed on them through sexual assault. What I also hear is the blaming of self – I shouldn’t have worn make up, I shouldn’t have walked that way home, I should have known. We live in a society where women are blamed, women need to make themselves safer, but why – oh yeah just to make sure that males doesn’t sexually assault us. How about we change that and men stop thinking it’s banter and stop being ignorant but realise where not here to be groped, where not here for your amusement, where here as an equal and the minute you make it banter we stop being that and we become an object and in being that object your assaulting us in more ways than you can imagine.
So the #MeToo campaign, let it be ours, stop with the other # from men, how do you make a difference but letting us women share what we need too, see the impact and that it happens to so many of us. Let our voices roar and hopefully someone out there will listen and start to make that change.