*Just to be clear, this isn’t a male bashing post. But I am affected by recent events in my life and it may sound like a male bashing post. I know not all men are like this.*
99% of women confirm that they have been subjected to street harassment. This comes in the form of cat-calling, groping, leering, making crude gestures, being grabbed at, being told something sexually offensive and/or derogatory; and in the worst case, being sexually harassed or assaulted.
That statistic is alarming. But somehow, it doesn’t come as a shock to me. In a world where one gender fails to see the misfortunes and consequences of their actions, it really is no surprise that society has fallen to all new lows.
Men have leered at me. Called me names. Winked at me and thrown suggestive comments. They’ve cat-called. They’ve rolled down the window and wolf whistled. And all of this has been done in public. But until yesterday (14/12/2016 [fourteenth of december, 2016]) no man had ever physically touched me in the wrong way.
Yesterday night, while exiting the stadium where Coldplay had just performed and heading to the main road to our taxi, amongst nearly 50,000 other concertgoers, a man, who was not drunk, decided to grab my forearm and attempt to drag me towards him, saying “you’re coming with me”.
I have never been more terrified.
And I think the terror kickstarted my already high adrenaline, because I did manage to lose his grip, tell him to fuck off and proceed to speed walk with my sister, as fast as we could.
And let me just deconstruct the provocative dressing myth right here. Yesterday, I was wearing white skinny jeans, a white and blue sleeveless blouse with a modest neckline, a few rings and necklaces, and my chunky cut-out heeled boots. My hair was in a bun so I didn’t overheat while singing and dancing. There was nothing remotely provocative or alluring about my outfit. In fact, my blouse even covered my jeans covered ass, so nothing was really being presented to the man.
So I wonder exactly why he decided it would be a good idea to violate my personal space, demean me and harass me in the middle of a crowd.
What went through his mind to think it was alright to make a pass at a young lady who was heading home after a concert?
There’s always this afterthought to actions like this. “Boys will be boys”. “Boys are immature. It’s how they are”. “These actions are harmless”. And honestly? That’s the root of the issue. Excuses for this disgusting behaviour that forgive the atrocities that men commit is one of the most significant reasons as to why men continually street harass women. They don’t even need to be affected by a woman in a short dress anymore. They just pick on any woman they see walking down the street or talking on the phone. Because they know society will forgive their actions as an immature character flaw.
It’s a societal privilege inbuilt into our culture, that men are the more dominant sex. And therefore, it’s perfectly acceptable for them to make demeaning and/or objectifying remarks towards women. Because simply speaking, they can.
I had a 20 second encounter with that man yesterday. But in those 20 seconds, I felt so violated and uncomfortable. And objectified. To grab at someone and say, you’re coming with me, is a clear objectification. Street harassment and situations such as the one I just described, are perfect examples of men still believing that their rights, actions and freedoms are simply more valued and important than anyone elses.
So what now?
Maybe it’s time to stop making excuses for boys and men. Maybe it’s time to start teaching them, that if you want to compliment a lady on her outfit, then choose a way that doesn’t make us feel uncomfortable and sexualised. Maybe it’s time to start educating boys from a young age, that grabbing and groping women, and insinuating that they should bend to your whim and will is wrong and unacceptable. Maybe it’s time to educate men about the emotional trauma suffered my women on a daily basis, because of the effects of street harassment. Maybe it’s time to start drilling it into the heads of every boy and man that they have no right to objectify, demean or sexualise women.
It’s honestly fucking disgusting.
We’re heading into 2017, yet women still don’t feel safe and are continually violated, even in the most public of spaces.