I have taken too long to write this. It doesn’t matter if no one reads it, but at least i’m adding my voice. This does get extremely personal in some parts, so apologies in advance.
I ALWAYS give the wrong people the benefit of the doubt. Some stupid part of me wants to see the positive of the situation, or the person. Sometimes I have let things slide when I should have spoken up for myself in order to diffuse a situation.
As young girls/women we are conditioned to be nice. Polite. Complicit. Agreeable. Meek. Mild. Nurturing, Aloof. Pretty – but not sexy (if you’re sexy then you are asking for it -_-). And I don’t just mean from our mothers or family, I mean from Society. You also learn from a young age that causing a scene is unbecoming, so you do what you can to avoid it. Even at your own peril. Protect your reputation or image at the cost of your actual self.
Also; Boy will be boys.
That is the biggest, most widely accepted excuse for shitty behaviour on the planet. Are boys no better than rabid dogs who can’t control themselves? I guess in some cases yes, but you get my point.
My worldly single mother taught me to be strong, know my rights, know my self worth, but don’t advertise it. Don’t be obnoxious, don’t be proud or arrogant.
“Don’t let a man mistreat you.”
“If a man hits you, expect it to hurt, expect to be knocked out cold. But when you get back up, you pick up the heaviest thing you can lift, smash him over the head with it and run like fucking mad to safety – NEVER GO BACK.”
It seems so easy, so straight forward, but there are things we learn on our own, from our own experiences that blur these easy instructions. If you are in the street, and a man cat-calls “Hey sexy, nice tits! Give us a kiss!” what do you do?
If you ignore them or tell them to fuck off, “You snobby BITCH! I just complimented you! What a fucking rude cow!”
If you tell them politely not to yell things like that to you, “Oh you’re one of them feminazis, learn how to take a compliment! Maybe you need a man like me to loosen you up a bit, you must be a Lesbian!”
If you smile and keep walking to avoid a scene… You’re not only condoning their behaviour, they think you like it, and then you will get blamed for leading them on, or in some cases, consent.
Things similar to this happen in many many different scenarios, even a light-hearted refusal to go out for a coffee with someone can turn violent. You’re damned if you entertain the conversation, and you’re damned if you don’t. We have to pick our battles wisely.
I’m going to write my most memorable experiences, some fit into the #metoo campaign but I still find myself feeling like I can make excuses for them all. They probably weren’t really bad enough to warrant the hashtag.
#1 – The Bus Ride
This is by far the most tame, but also left me completely powerless. I was terrified to make a wrong move or upset him in any way in case he became aggressive.
I was 20 weeks pregnant (I was fucking HUGE by the way – at that point I had already put on about 15 kilograms) I was so puffy and swollen that I had to put a fake over-sized wedding ring on – here is my hand when I finally got my rings off;
I had to catch the bus home from work as the trains were not running. I had been working later than normal this day and as a result it was pitch black outside, and there was hardly anyone on the bus. I had a seat to myself, and was able to put my bag up next to me (Great for me as I already couldn’t touch my feet let alone pick a bag up off the floor). First stop of a 60 minute journey, a guy gets on the bus and sits a few seats away, but stares at me the whole time. I avert my eyes, put my bitch/don’t wanna talk face on and just play with my phone (Don’t give any impression that you want interaction – do not give the invitation).
He doesn’t seem to pick up on this social queue.
He keeps staring, then decides to walk up the aisle to my seat, gently put my bag on the floor, and sits next to me. (There are about 4 other people on the bus, there were PLENTY of other seats for this guy). He strikes up conversation, inane crap at first, the weather, the crappy transport system we have, what apps am I playing etc? I oblige the conversation because I don’t know this guy from a bar of soap and I don’t want to seem rude. He is being super nice, and not aggressive, but he is in my personal space, too close, and I am internally shitting my pants. The questions move to personal ones, am I married (no I just wear wedding rings for fun -_-), am I happy in my relationship etc. To which I answer yes, married, yes very happy, in fact, my husband is coming to pick me up from the station! (A lie but men seem to respect the husband or boyfriend more than the woman they are talking to).
This does not deter him, in fact it seems to become a personal challenge for him.
The conversation changes to, would you like to hang out when we get off the bus? I say no, I have to get home and that I want to see my husband.
“Ooooh come on, what your husband doesn’t know won’t hurt him!”
“No thank you, that wouldn’t be appropriate. I am very happy in my relationship and would never do anything to hurt my husband”. I couldn’t say, no you are creeping me out, I don’t like you, and I don’t want to be near you etc – because when you hurt their ego, that is when things almost always turn sour. Is he violent? I don’t know, but I’m 20 weeks pregnant I am not taking that risk.
He is relentless. He does not stop propositioning me for the next 45 minutes. He is getting personal and almost threatening but never technically crossing that invisible, flexible line – wearing me down and almost making ME feel like I am the bad guy and being overly mean because I wont entertain his fantasy however tame it may sound. I am too scared to be anything other than extremely polite.
He does not touch me other than our shoulders touching, and him trying to look at my phone. He does not make any physical move other than being way too close. I have no technical argument against him other than ‘this guy doesn’t understand social queues and is making me uncomfortable’
At the last stop, he stayed sitting so that I couldn’t get out. I had to say, “OK this is the last stop and my husband is waiting, can I please get out?”
Only then did he move. He gave me a chirpy goodbye wave like we had been friends for years. I was too scared to walk the 200 metres to my car around a dark corner in a pitch black car park, so I walked over to the security guard and stood with him until I was sure this guy was gone, and even then I waddled to my car as fast as my swollen feet would allow.
I endured 45 minutes of anxiety and turmoil because I didn’t want to offend a stranger. I was terrified of the unknown. Is he violent, is he going to cause a scene? Is he going to follow me to see if my husband really is coming, then make his move? But other than the propositioning, was he doing anything technically wrong? To some men, no of course he wasn’t, he was just trying to be friendly…
#2 – Just Silly Teenagers
When I was a young teenager (14-17) I was very flirtatious. Some people would use the line ‘asking for it’. I wore low cut tops and LOVED attention from boys. Some boys took that as wanting physical attention but at the time I was of the opinion that unwanted attention just came with the territory. It was 2000-2003 it was always going to be my own fault. I was too flirtatious, I was wearing suggestive clothing (I rarely wore skirts or shorts and they were always knee height or lower) but the cleavage was almost always out. One afternoon, some boys that I had caught the bus to school with for years came to my house, under the guise of ‘hanging out’. While I was out the front ‘hanging out’, a couple of them snuck around the side of my house and let themselves in the back door. They rifled through my room until they found my underwear and took it upon themselves to steal some, bursting back out through the front door and parading my underwear around the street and sniffing it like it was the funniest thing in the world. I was mortified, but laughed along, snatched my underwear back and made sure the back door was locked. I came back out the front because I didn’t want them to think I was that easily rattled, and to prove that their silly shit meant nothing to me. I didn’t want to give them anything to brag about.
Once again, I think my bravado posed a challenge.
The underwear talk turned to what underwear was I wearing? Could they see it? Of course I told them to straight up fuck right off – hey, they were my social equals, I knew them fairly well, saying fuck off was the easy part.
“Well if you wont show us we’ll have to see for ourselves!”
They lunged at me like animals. They tore my favourite t-shirt for fuck’s sake! The biggest one pinned my arms back so the others could grope my breasts. I flat out booted him in the balls with all my strength and he laughed at me. I did it again and I swear to God it had NO EFFECT. They all took their turns groping at me and licking and biting my neck/face etc. The entire time I was yelling fuck off, stop it, and trying to push them off me. I had red welts on my face, arms, and chest afterwards and was covered in saliva. Honestly I don’t remember what made them stop, I think one of them finally clicked that they were taking it way too far. They hung around for about 20 minutes after like nothing happened, and then left. I then locked all the doors, showered, and never told a soul.
This is the first time I have ever put this in writing or told anyone. And I am sitting at my desk at work re-living it and think I have only just allowed myself to accept how brutal, fucked up, and gross, the situation was. I have always played it off as silly teenager shit, and I always blamed myself for the low cut tops and flirtatious personality. I always figured I deserved it for the way I presented myself.
#3 – “You’re going to get raped one day”
When I was 16, I had a rough break up with my first love. There was this guy I knew for a short time previously and had talked to on the phone a lot, and I wanted some male company and some attention so I called him to meet up and chat/hang out. This company turned to sex – believe it or not, that wasn’t my original motive, but I wasn’t against the idea either. Unfortunately It ended up not being very good sex, and not what I was used to I guess. It was the first sex I’d had without being in a relationship – my first ‘casual’ encounter, and I ended up just feeling worthless and used at the end of it (not his fault).
We talked for a bit, then he initiated sex again and I went along with it. It wasn’t good, I felt bad, asked him to stop and he did. Then he talked me into massages that led back to sex. I again asked him to stop. He did. This happened 2 more times. You must note that I consented to it every time we started, and every time I asked him to stop, he did, straight away.
I was young, selfish, confused, and completely ignorant of the way my actions were making him feel. He got so sick of me stopping the sex that he blurted out, “Ugh you know, if you do this to guys all the time, you’re going to get raped one day.” He was right, and he knew it, and at the time we BOTH were of the assumption that it was something that SHOULD happen if I kept stopping sex half way through. That I was being a shitty person and my actions would deserve being raped. (I realised soon after that I should have just said no from the start – but my actions did not deserve rape).
It jarred me. I thought he was a massive wanker for saying something like that. He then got upset at me because I didn’t like some new jacket he’d bought so he drove me straight home and we never spoke again. That was such a weird day, and it ended very abruptly.
I just realised that I was 16, and he was 21 at the time – technically that was statutory rape – at the time that didn’t enter my mind and I don’t think of it that way now either. Should I be thinking that way?
#4 – “I’m nearly finished”
I know I’m not the only one who has been through this one. This has happened to me more times than I can remember.
You’re having sex, it starts to hurt, or not feel good, or for whatever reason, you realise you don’t want to keep having sex…
You say you want to stop, and they say, “It’s OK, I’m nearly finished.”
What do you do? I wasn’t going to scream rape on this one even though it technically is. I’m sure if I pinched or punched or something, then that could have snapped them out of it – but it was easier to not offend, or make them mad, or be upset that I wasn’t enjoying it. So I just let them finish. No matter how much it hurt.
It simply comes down to the other person’s orgasm being more important than your general comfort. Of course they aren’t thinking of it that way at the time, and if you were to break it down for them I’m sure most would be mortified. But this kind of thing needs to be taught to teens/people who are sexually active. Your enjoyment is not more important than someone’s general well being.
I don’t really know where I’m going with this one. I just know that other people have gone through this and didn’t know if it was wrong or not, or if they were being stupid by letting it happen. You’re not stupid. You are human, and clearly put others above yourself. Know that you are worth more, and if it ever happens again, maybe you will feel empowered to be more assertive, or to take control of the situation.
With these stories, I’m not going to name names (the ones I know anyway) as these things happened when we were all quite young, and most adults are a lot different from their teenage selves. Most of us have dome something we regret and know was bad, in my case these things were not life changing or severe (in my eyes) so I don’t feel that any action needs to be taken now. I SHOULD have taken some action when it happened – I know that now, but at the time, I honestly believed that I brought it all on myself and that there was no point in saying something as I basically asked for it – OR – they were my boyfriend, and that it wasn’t a big deal.
There are other stories of inappropriate groping, strange men cat calling me at 13 years old, or that one time when I was 11, there was a naked adult male wanking on the beach, and the adults that I told called the police (who couldn’t locate him). These adults basically said that I was making it up for attention because my friend who was with me didn’t actually see him wanking – just saw him laying there. There’s that time when I worked in a warehouse and in the middle of an Australian heat wave, all the women were told they could not wear shorts above the knee, or short sleeved shirts because some of the men were perverts. They did nothing about the actual perverts though and the males could wear whatever they wanted. Those many, many times where I was plied with alcohol or weed until I was too drunk or stoned to do anything, and still was groped and dry humped by ‘friends’. I guess some of these aren’t assault though, just some examples of what some women have to deal with.
Any who. Those are the stories that I am comfortable putting out there.
I hope if you’re reading this that you get something out of it.