I took most of today to decide whether to reblog Liesl’s post or not. It triggered a whole lot of emotional memories, some of which I wrote in her comments box in a stream of consciousness manner without censoring what I wrote. Except I did censor a little bit because there were other incidents I didn’t want to list. However, with all the news coming out of the US election campaign and all the self-justification and denial, I decided there must be many women like Liesl and me being triggered, having unpleasant incidents rearing their ugly heads and no means of expiating them. My theme of my blog is health and wellness and that has to include mental health and wellness. I think this is one of those times when I can broaden the terms of reference to include the damage to female self-esteem, self-confidence, self-image and the self-restriction of freedom of movement, what clothes we wear, our facial expressions, who we make eye-contact with and so on, that unwarranted comments and touching lead to for those bearing the brunt. Apologies for the poor grammar, sentence structure etc but this is just appearing at will and I don’t want delete it, which I will if I reread it and do it properly!
Here are my comments on Liesl’s post:
‘I don’t want to click ‘Like’ on this: although I like that you’ve been able to bring it out into the open I don’t like that you had these experiences and it is depressing to wonder how many women recognise these situations and then even more depressing to wonder how many do not, because my guess is very few if any. I had the lecherous drunk on the bus who sat with his hand on my thigh throughout the journey when I was 14 even though I was with a group of friends, many of them male and they all could see. The 2 jokey neighbours of my dad’s in different towns, one when I was 12-15, the other when I was a young mum, who kept grasping my knee; the man who, when passing me in a crowded street in my home town when I was 19, quickly put his hand up my skirt and groped. I wanted to be sick. No-one saw and he was gone as quickly as he appeared. The many many times, I have had to walk past a group of men of all ages with my head down, making no eye contact in case I could be accused of encouraging them, and having to listen to the disgusting language. No, you don’t have an innate right to make me feel like dirt, to make me scared to walk down my own street alone, frightened to get on a bus at night, or comment on my body. You don’t have an innate right to touch me wherever and however you like whenever you like. Don’t you ever think that that is happening to your sister, daughter, mother, aunt, grandmother? Does that make you feel proud of your gender?’
Because I was 15, spending a summer abroad to learn French, and I didn’t know who to talk to when you’d come to my bedside and grope me in the night. #WhyWomenDontReport
Like so many women, I don’t have adequate words to share in the spaces between these highlighted occurrences. They’re just a few among others buried in my subconscious, ingrained in the tactile memory of my cells every time someone touches me, even in moments of tenderness.
Because I was one of your guests, and I thought we were all enjoying a night swim in the Mediterranean. Yet the darkness hid your assault in broad moonlight. #WhyWomenDontReport
I’d posit that women are robbed of their own pleasure, for years, when their bodies become the unwitting object of another’s unwanted, yet continued, advances.
Because my job was to film you, but you’d kiss me on the mouth every morning and “slept” for hours in the car with your head in…
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