It’s REALLY not okay, is it?
DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a man hatey article; I love men. My dad is a man. Tom Hardy is a man. David Mitchell is a man. And I love all three in very different capacities.
Inspired by the #metoo campaign that is taking the internet by storm, and as part of continuing support from The Tab Cambridge, I am here today, readers, to talk about sexual harassment. I can hear you groan but bear with me for three reasons;
1. It is an important topic to broach.
2. It is a really important topic to broach.
And 3. It is a really bloody important topic to broach.
Nasal Big Bang Theory “star” (can you call anyone in The Big Bang Theory a “star”?) and science lady in general, Mayim Bialik, wrote a now deleted op-ed for The New York Times in which she suggested that women who “dress modestly” are less likely to encounter sexual harassment and went on to discuss the “perks of not being the perfect ten”. Mayim, hun, please sit down, pull up a chair and produce a pen and paper because you, my dear, are about to get schooled. *mimes mic drop because I don’t possess a mic*.
I am not a stereotypical or objective “perfect ten”. Fact. Once, when getting off a bus, an adolescent youth on the lowest BMX ever hollered at his snapback wearing pal as I walked past, “THAT’S a solid six!”. I don’t know what bothered me more; the “that’s” or “solid”. But then again “solid” implies that you can be different types of six and I thought “at least you’re not a weak six”. And if we are rounding, isn’t a solid six just a seven anyway? And doesn’t a “seven” sound SO much better than a “six”? *laughs in a self-deprecating manner*.
Preamble over, but the context is needed I feel in order for me to pose the question that why then, as someone who is a self-confessed and, might I add, proud “solid six” have I had men think that it is acceptable to thrust their hands down my dress/top on a night out? Why is it also considered okay for a guy to come up behind me, in the same scenario, and press his dick up against my behind? Any takers?
I shall answer my own question in the form of anecdote. Whilst standing outside my hometown McDonalds at three in the morning after a far from messy night out (I just stuck to Archers and lemonade – I’m hard, I know), a guy came up behind me and slapped me hard across the top of my thighs. I’d never seen this man before, he was and is a total stranger to me. It wasn’t even a “cheeky” slap. It was a hard hit and made a blunt ‘thud’ sound as his forearm came into contact with my lower body.
He was a big bloke to boot; as tall as he was wide, in fact he looked so much like a cube I was half expecting Philip Schofield to appear from behind a lamppost and ask me if I wanted to have a trial run or just take the cash prize. Let me just say, for the record, that I am in no way prudish and that, and I’m sure you’ll agree, sometimes a playful slap on the arse is just what the doctor ordered. But then, as I was crying by the dingy light of a dimming yellow “M”, after a total stranger thinks that it’s A-OK to touch me just because he feels like it, I felt rather furious.
I felt a bit brave and shouted “Why would you do that?!” to which I was greeted with the slurred reply of, “Fuck off, you’re not fit anyway!”. So, Mayim, if this total wankrag doesn’t find me remotely attractive, then why did he do that? Hmmm? Because I’d love to know.
I felt self-conscious and inwardly questioned what I was wearing (a long sleeved, knee length dress and thick black tights, FYI). But then I realised, what I was wearing had no bearing on that incident what so ever. If it did, then why don’t the number of sexual harrasment cases sky rocket in summer time or when people go to the beach?
If what anyone is wearing has an effect on anything then why, since the age when my boobs showed up, do men leer at me from the windows of their cars when I am wearing my baggiest hoody and oldest leggings? That’s dressing pretty “modestly”, wouldn’t you agree?
I’ll tell you why this still, in 2017, happens; because it isn’t stigmatised. The whole “boys will be boys” (my least favourite four words strung together EVER) attitude isn’t challenged. Laddish night out culture isn’t challenged, which enables people to get away with behaviour that really isn’t on purely because they have had a few pints of San Miguel and the sun has gone down. Harvey Weinstein was allowed to manipulate, bully and abuse women in Hollywood for over THREE DECADES because he wasn’t challenged.
We all need to challenge it because something has got to give. At least until the day when small (*pretty bloody big) victories come such as no longer pretending to be on the phone when you’re walking down a dark road home or when what a girl is wearing or how much she has had to drink determines whether she was “asking for it” or not. Nonetheless, unwanted physical contact from a grubby tosser who probably hates his mum is not going to render me complicit in this. Not now, not ever.
BIG thank you to Helena Trenkić (@helenaaahh on the 'gram) for taking my photo.