A very important hashtag that has gone viral on the internet is ‘Me Too’. I’d be very surprised if you hadn’t heard about it, but on the off chance you haven’t, I’ll narrow it down. In the light of Harvey Weinstein’s revealed dark side of sexually harassing and assaulting women of the Hollywood industry, women are simply tweeting the hashtag #MeToo to show how common sexual assault and/or harassment really is. Nobody should feel obliged to participate or go into detail if they aren’t comfortable. But it really has saddened me over this past week seeing the devastating amount of tweets. Sexual harassment and assault is so real. So, so, devastatingly real.
I feel like I was somewhat conflicted to participate. I very, very luckily have never been assaulted, but I have lost count of the times I have been harassed. But saying that, it makes me feel like I am somehow gloating. How is it that talking about unwanted attention forced upon me makes me feel like I’m showing off? This is the exact problem. And this is why men think it’s okay. A silent woman who shows no argument or objection, is an indication that it’s fine to carry on, right? No. Wrong.
I was exposed to unwanted attention pretty out of the blue while I was in secondary school. Boys would grab/slap my bottom like it was their possession. I knew it wasn’t right, yet I was pretty much brought up to believe that boys will be boys and that this was acceptable. I was left so unbelievably uncomfortable on one specific occasion when a boy came up behind me, aggressively slapped my behind and whispered “I’d recognise that ass from a mile away.” How do you even react to something like that as a thirteen year old?
One occasion that will always stick in my mind is an evening where I was cycling home from my friends. I decided to go to the corner shop on the way home and as I was approaching the shop, I heard two men talking about my appearance to one another through my earphones.
I took my earphones out and propped the bike up against the wall. That was when I heard them yell.
“You should definitely be wearing a skirt when riding that bike”.
I looked around at them. Were they talking to me? Unfortunately, yes.
“Don’t dress like a boy and maybe I’d bone you”.
I literally had no desire to know whether they found me sexually attractive or not. I was a seventeen year old girl minding her own business about to go into the shop for some snacks…
I shakily said loudly, “fuck off” and went inside. There were plenty of people around and the car park was full. Why didn’t anybody say anything?
Because we are all taught the same damn thing. Men will be men. Boys will be boys.
I stayed in the shop for quite some time for safety, heart racing. I was too afraid to go back out in case they’d say or do much worse.
How is this an okay perspective to force upon future generations? I refuse to allow my future son, if I am to have one, to ever speak to a woman the way I have been spoken to. The sad reality is that this is a less extreme example of what really goes on out there. I am for sure not gloating. I’m speaking the hell up. Nobody wants to be spoken to this way.
Up until now, my reluctance to participate in this global phenomenon of a hashtag has got the better of me. But enough is enough. It’s never okay. From inappropriate comments to devastating extreme situations, it’s never acceptable. You’re worth so, so much more. We all are.
Thanks for Reading | Lucy Violet x