I didn’t think #metoo was relevant to me
I didn’t think #metoo was relevant to me, I didn’t think it related to me. I felt sympathy for women who had experienced that, when I say ‘that’, I mean sexual abuse, rape and assault.
As the hashtag spread, I read more into it. I realised it wasn’t just talking about acute versions of sexual abuse, it was also talking about harassment. Harassment? Well of course I’ve been harassed…who hasn’t? Is that..is that not okay?
I remember being 13, just growing breasts, walking along the street with my family, dragging behind, slightly separated. Two men, drinking beer in a pub, looked over at me and said ‘check her out’ and whistled.
At 13, well, I was proud. Yes, proud. I’d gotten attention from the other sex. (Not sure how old they were, old enough to legally drink beer though)
This ‘proudness’ continued through my teenage years into my early twenties. After losing my virginity, at the time, I thought I had been liberated, I had power. That power was sex. I was in charge. I was living in a time of female sexual liberation. I am a woman; I do what I want with my body.
I realise now, this wasn’t actually how I felt. I was crippled with self-doubt, insecurity and all I wanted was approval from the opposite sex. My self-worth, my sense of self was dependant on the opposite sex, on men.
They were in charge. They had always been in charge. And I was only trying to live up to their standards. And through that I accepted their behaviours as normal.
I look back now…
·The unwelcome first kiss from a boy
-The insults of teenage boys
· The acceptance of girls around me of this behaviour
· The time a guy climbed into my bed when I was asleep and I woke up in shock forcing him off me and out of my room
· The hundreds of times I’ve got yelled or whistled at on the street
· The time I got stalked for 3 months at my own house
· The time I got harassed by colleague for months of end to go on a date with him
- The many times i’ve been too drunk, the many times the man didn’t care or choose not to take notice. The many times they took advantage.
#metoo does relate to me and this is the first time I’ve realised it.
And yet, i’m the lucky one. Countless women have endured much more and much worse. This is the society we live in, still.
Women need to stand up, we must do it together and stand together. We aren’t competitors. We are all we have. We need to look out for one another.
Most of all we need men by our side, who stand with us. As proof men do not need to act this way, that it can and will be changed.