So, as you all have probably heard, yet another bloke in the entertainment business has been busted for being a sexist dick-face abusing his power.
I don’t understand how this kind of bullshit still goes on, but I also don’t understand how so many people are surprised.
Sexual harassment, assault and abuse happen day in, day out. And living as a woman in this world, you are constantly bombarded with it, even if you don’t want to be.
I myself, like most women, have been sexually harassed & assaulted more times that I can count. And it’s been anything from blokes wolf whistling at me walking by, to my vagina being groped in a club. Just the other day I was walking home from the shops, and a guy in a white van (I’m serious, I’m not even stereotyping) drove around the round-about twice, slowing to an almost stop to stare at me. He then drove very slowly up the road, making sure to stick his head out of the window for one last look. It was the middle of the day, and although he didn’t say anything or physically touch me, it still made me feel very uncomfortable and unsafe. I was worried about walking up my drive way in case he followed me home. I even considered going back to the shops to be in a safer place and around more people.
Women do so many things on a daily basis to avoid being a victim of sexual assault or harassment. For example, if I see a group of young men walking towards me, I will more than likely cross the road to avoid being in their proximity. If there are not many seats left on the bus, I will sit next to a woman rather than a man to avoid being in close contact with a guy. There are lots of situations that we try to avoid but there are also lots that we cannot. For example, when a guy talks to me in the street, there’s always a conflict in my head of 'what should I do?'. If I stand and talk to him, he might think I’m interested in him and expect something in the end. Then when I politely say I’m married, or busy or whatever, I usually get abuse shouted at me. Alternatively, I don’t talk to the guy but I still get abuse shouted at me. And worry about being followed or harassed for ignoring him.
The thing is, men don’t have to think about this or worry about this one little bit. I asked my husband and he said that if he was walking along the street and a group of 3 women walked towards him, he wouldn’t cross the road. It wouldn’t even cross his mind that crossing the road would make him safer or avoid being sexually harassed. Men never get wolf whistled at, or followed home, or have women hanging out of cars watching them. I often think that if the roles were reversed, they wouldn’t like it either.
Getting back to the Harvey Weinstein thing. I don’t understand the women who are saying “yes, but have you seen what girls wear these days and how they act?” as if wearing a skirt or shorts is asking for sexual harassment. No, it isn’t. Just like a guy wearing a pair of shorts isn’t asking me to grab his bollocks. I once had a guy in a lorry stop at the side of the road to ask me if I was “working” and when I said “No, I’m waiting for the bus” he then asked me if I wanted to make a bit of extra money. This was at 6am on a winter’s morning. I was wearing long black trousers, trainers, a big coat and scarf. If you really think that clothing is the reason why men are arseholes, then how do you explain that? Men just see a woman on her own, and try to take advantage. The other problem I have with this whole thing is blaming the victim for something that they cannot control. I don’t like that we have to teach our girls not to wear skirts as it might ‘distract’ the boys (or male teachers) at school. There are numerous cases of girls being sent home from school for wearing clothes that are ‘too provocative’. Clothes such as a vest top, or a skirt. Rather than teaching girls not to be themselves, not to dress how they want in-case we encourage this awful behaviour. Instead, how about we teach boys from a young age to respect women. Don’t wolf whistle, don’t touch, don’t rape, don’t grope, don’t kiss, don’t insult, don’t follow. How is this hard to teach?
I know not all men are like this. My husband isn’t. But there are plenty of men who are. And it’s not just the builders wolf whistling. It’s business men in suits, waiters in restaurants, fathers with their young children, the guy sat opposite you on the train. Not all of them sexually assault or touch women physically, but they intimidate, stare, wink, blow kisses and generally give unwanted attention to women getting on with their daily lives.
What do I want to happen? I want these men to stop with all this bullshit sexual harassment & assault. I want women to talk about their experiences and to say that it is not ok. I want people to stop blaming the victims. I want girls to grow up being able to express their personalities without fear of ‘distracting’ boys or ‘asking for it’. I want women to feel safe walking to the shops on their own. I want people of power not to use it to their ‘advantage’. I want women to have equal rights and equal chances. If someone wants to wear a full face of make-up, a short tight dress and huge heels, I want them to feel safe and like they won’t be targeted due to their appearance. And in regards to the show business, I want women to get acting jobs based on their talent and if they would be good for the role, not on if they sleep with the producer or not! I don’t feel like I’m asking for a lot and I sincerely hope things change before I have children growing up the same way I did.
If you have been affected by sexual assault or harassment, please use the hashtag #metoo or words 'me too' to show the world how many of us women have been victims. Speak up. Share your story. Let’s make a difference. Also, if you need to talk to someone about your experiences, please contact your nearest helpline. You are not alone and it wasn’t your fault.
Edit : 1 month after first writing this. I have since seen people on YouTube talking about their experiences, which I think is a good thing. However, today I watched RayaWasHere's video about her experiences and she said that basically when she was at University, she would get sexually assaulted and harassed, but she would brush it off and laugh it off. She also went on to say that back in those days (I'm guessing around 10 years ago as she seems a similar age to me) people didn't talk about it, and women didn't realise they were being sexually abused or assaulted. This comment reminded me of my student days which I didn't write about above, but here goes.
When I was at Uni, I was known as the man-hater, or the one who would kick off or punch a guy. I did it so many times that I stopped counting. When we were in clubs & bars I would (most nights) kick off with some bloke. My friends were mortified that I kept punching men in the face, or kicking them in the bollocks, or getting them kicked out of clubs. However, I was mortified that I was the bad guy in this situation. I only ever punched, kicked or kicked off on guys who had touched me inappropriately.
I remember this one night in a club, a guy grabbed my bum. I turned around and said "Ok. No. Stop. That's not ok". Several minutes later, he did it again. So I turned around and was like "No, I'm serious, don't fucking touch me". Again, several minutes later and the same guy was behind me grabbing my bum. So I turned around and punched him square in the face. His friends kicked off at me, squaring up to me, my friends were embarrassed and keeping these guys away from me, and security ended up coming over. We all got kicked out for causing trouble, even though I explained to the bouncer that he was sexually assaulting me, he thought it was funny and didn't care.
Why should women be put in this situation. Why was I made out to be the bad guy? Why was I the only woman I knew who would see what was going on and do something about it. If a friend was being groped in the club, I would switch places with her, then kick off at the guy if he dared to touch me. This to me, was the obvious thing to do. I never understood women who could stand their and be groped. Who could stand there and let it happen. I'm not saying it was their fault at all, but I do wish there had been more bad ass bitches like me at Uni who could help fend off these arseholes and let them know that their behaviour was unacceptable. I really hope that women are finding a voice and that these situations happen less and less in today's society.
P.s. I have never done martial arts or boxing or self defence or anything, so I do not recommend punching guys in the face if you don't know what you're doing. Yes, I know it can be dangerous and get you into more trouble. But I couldn't just stand there and let it happen. Maybe women these days need to do self defence courses so that they have the skills to properly stand up for themselves and ward off any unwanted attention. I wish I didn't have to act this way as I am not a violent person, but at the time, it felt like the best thing to do. To protect myself and my friends. But maybe some martial arts knowledge could have come in handy too!
I guess I'm adding this bit just to contrast with what Raya said in her video. She didn't know it was sexual assault. She didn't realise what was happening was wrong. But that doesn't mean that all women 10 years ago were blind to it. I certainly wasn't, but I also realise that I seemed to be an exception. I remember several nights before leaving the house my friends would say to me "Ok Rosie, can you try not to punch a guy tonight" - as if it was my choice. Ok, well I guess it was my choice to punch them but it was never undeserved. I didn't go out of my way to cause trouble or to punch people, it only happened when I felt like I was being sexually assaulted. I would often reply "Well, it's not up to me, if no one touches me then I don't have a problem..". I don't think they understood me or why I was so against it all. Hopefully they understand now, and hopefully more people get it, and more people (men & women) will stand up for what is right.