Every Sunday evening, I get a phone call from my Dad. We catch up on what we’ve been up to in the week, talk about the news, my work, his work, and how many days it is until I’m heading home.
But recently I’ve noticed a pattern in what our conversations are like when I tell him about a night out. There’s nearly always a mention of me, or my friends, being disrespected by men. Whether it’s a story about one of us getting shoved at a bar or in the crowd, or the fact we’d had to shout at someone to get off of us.
And I realized just how sick I am of being treated like an object.
I am sick and tired of walking around in a club and being groped.
I am sick and tired of having to shout at a boy to get his hands off of me.
Mostly, I am so sick and tired of how some people think this is ok.
There seems to be this assumption that if this kind of thing happens to you, you were ‘asking for it’. That your behaviour warranted you being touched without consent, or that you’re simply overreacting. People will say things like;
“You shouldn’t wear such revealing clothes then”
“What do you expect if you’re dancing like that?”
“Maybe he was just too shy to talk to you”
I’m calling bullshit on all of it.
I’m a 21 year old woman, and I can dress how I want to. I can dance how I want with my friends. I can tell you to fuck off if your hands are on my body without my permission. I can tell the bouncer you’re harassing me, because you are.
I want to know where this idea that if a girl’s in a tight skirt, or a low cut top, she’s giving you consent to touch her. If she’s alone, clearly looking for her friends who are still in the loos, she wants your company. Or if she says no, she really means yes.
The amount of hands I’ve taken off my body, feet I’ve stamped on, and grown men I have argued with for being disrespectful towards me and my friends, seriously upsets me. And I don’t want my future daughter, or my little cousin, or any other girl to have to continue to put up with this.
“Learn to take a compliment you bitch”
“How else was I meant to get your attention?”
“Chill out you psycho”
Those are just some of the choice responses I’ve gotten over the years when I ask the boys and men who touch me without my consent, “What do you think you’re doing, get off me.”
What baffled me most is that boys think this behaviour is ok. They act shocked and offended when you pull them up on their behaviour. Instead of saying “Hey, what’s your name?”, they grab whatever part of your body moves past them without saying a word. Why are we told as girls to stay safe, and warned of this behaviour, but nobody is talking to boys about what consent is and why grabbing the body of a stranger is never ok?
This ‘boys will be boys’ mindset has to stop.
The excuse that they act this way because they’re attracted to you has to stop.
The feeling of fear every girl feels when they get groped or touched without their permission, has to stop.
I have had someone whip me with their jacket to get my attention whilst standing at a bar. I’ve had my drink spilt over deliberately when I’ve said no. I’ve been shoved in a crowd when I move someone’s hands off of my body. I’ve been called a slut, a bitch and a prude for telling a boy to get away from me.
And the way I dress, or act, or speak, hasn’t asked for any of it.
Nobody asks for this behaviour. Nobody deserves being treated like this.
Of all the things university has taught me, the number one thing I’m taking away from it is that some boys are truly vile. Their attitude towards women, their self entitlement, and their complete lack of respect is truly disgusting. And I will not miss having to deal with them.
Thankfully, we’re living in a time where the movement to end this is stronger than ever and our voices protesting this are louder and actually being heard. Sexual harassment is not a joke, it’s not over exaggerating and it’s not to be taken lightly.
It’s time for this to stop. #TIMESUP