After this article appeared in my Facebook newsfeed for a second time this week, I decided I had to write a short piece about my experience with this type of open and blatant public sexual assault. After reading the comments under the post shared by “Daily Life“, I realised how ridiculously common this is…which only makes it more disturbing don’t you think? I mean, why is it, that something so common, and disgraceful (on the part of the perpetrator), is so hush hush that every woman, and girl, who has experienced it thought that it was just some weird freak thing that only happened to them? Something to be too embarrassed to share with others…it’s almost as if we feel if we told others, it would somehow become our fault or that we would be told we were overreacting or imagining it? (I wonder where we got this idea from? I’m looking at you #rapeculture).
It seems that this type of public sexual assault incident is not as uncommon as you would think. I remember my first “wanker” on the train from Sydney to Gosford…I was 17, I was frozen, he was creepy and I ended up moving carriages. The second “wanker” on the train a year or so later, did not get off so easy (no pun intended)…I pulled a pair of scissors from my bag (I was on my way home from a photography class, hence the scissors) and yelled loudly and aggressively in the crowded carriage (yes, these guys love a good crowd, until you embarrass them in front of it) “you vile disgusting perverted *obscenity* get the *obscenity* off this train before you lose your *obscenity* *obscenity*”… the stench of tangy sweat and alcohol wafted past me as he hobbled away zipping up his pants as the carriage looked on in shock and confusion (yes, the link between sexual assault and alcohol is widely published, yet usually in relation to how the victim gets themselves in trouble by drinking too much, sadly the info on rapists drinking too much and raping people gets lost in #rapeculture, sorry I mean “translation”).
And would you believe it? It happened a 3rd time…3rd time wanker was tossed off the train at my station by the train guard. Great work train guards, way to put me at risk of further sexual assault. I could go on further and further about the amount of unwanted and unwelcome sexual harassment and assault I have experienced before then, from the creepy nighttime whispers in my ear of the boyfriend of a lady I babysat for in high school, and since then, to my ex-boyfriend’s colleague who blatantly went in for the goal at a Bondi Beach music festival and wanted to join the police force a few months later (lucky for us ladies, he didn’t pass the psych testing, touché), to the numerous night club gropings, but the point is, this is not an isolated and uncommon incident. Sexual assault has become normalised in our culture, to the point where even women are confused about whether or not they have or haven’t been sexually assaulted. Rape culture, is achieving it’s goal. The fact that people can spout rape jokes (women and men) at the dinner table in front of their parents and peers and not get a firm disinheritance, cold shoulder, or at the very least a reprimand, is baffling to me…yet this is the culture we live in. And we sit there and we laugh along, or we pretend we didn’t hear them, because it’s impolite of us to call people out on their disgraceful behaviour and we may be judged harshly by our peers and families. I am for one sick of tolerating this type of behaviour, yet I sometimes have this involuntary giggly reaction to uncomfortable rape jokes, I hate my reaction to it, and I kick myself mentally for weeks afterward for not having thrown a plate of hot spaghetti in the face of the joker…I have decided to remedy that with Kung Fu classes, so that my involuntary reaction to rape jokes is more appropriate to the situation.
If I sound angry, it’s because I am, because I have to be, because if you’re not outraged by this kind of disgraceful behaviour, then the problem is with you, not me. The problem is not with any of the women who have experienced this kind of behaviour and questioned their own astounding involuntary reaction to it…the reaction that has been ingrained into us by a society that wants to silence our voices, because each time we speak the truth, a little bit of rape culture crumbles, and for the people this culture benefits, that must be a terrifying truth to face.
Why is it important to keep this movement going? Because – Feminism is a dirty word and people still think we don’t need it: equal respect and zero tolerance for sexual harassment and assault. We don’t need it at all…*insert sarcasm font*. #yesallwomen