This is a topic of recent discussion between and my female friends, when talking about general lack of respect that some men have towards women.
Now don’t get me wrong I’m not here to put down all men, far from it! or spend the next 5 mins guy bashing, however I’m firmly against unwanted sexual comments or behaviour either men towards women or the other way round.
I have an admission to make
I have regularly been on the receiving end of verbal unwanted sexual harassment and I did nothing about it.
My most recent instance was coming home from London I was walking from the underground to the trains at Euston and was halfway down the platform when a man jumped in front of me stared at my chest and exclaimed loudly ‘Oh my god! Look at those’ I was so taken aback and uncomfortable that I did what I thought was best at the time and just kept my head down and carried on walking. This man walked the entire length of the platform saying ‘No love you’re getting on the wrong train, you need to get on the one with me’ until I finally escaped onto the train I needed home.
I sat down and was shocked to see that I had the shakes from the adrenaline rush, this guy had enforced onto me by his comments, and worse still I or no one else did anything. Since when did this become acceptable?
Only a few weeks before I had been on a date and we were on a crowded tube train with him sitting in front of me when a loud lecherous sweaty drunk got on standing in the middle separating the both of us. He looked at me and laughed and tried to engage me with conversation, once again I put my head down, submissive to the unwanted attention as he leered at me and said ‘Don’t ignore me love, we could be the breast of friends haha’. No one in the carriage said or did anything including me and my date.
Now don’t get me wrong I don’t condone this behaviour in any shape or form, in fact I’m ashamed to say I didn’t even stand up for myself in this situation thereby in some form condoning or allowing these people to think that this behaviour is somehow acceptable.
Even worse to this I brought this up with my parents to which the response was ‘what were you wearing at the time’ and ‘I used to experience that so I made sure that I changed the way I dress to make sure I was even more covered up’ – I cannot begin to express my sorrow to hear these two statements. Although I don’t dress in any way in a way that could be perceived as ‘slutty’ I still don’t think that is the point. I have to stop wearing clothes I love otherwise I should have to put up with those comments as somehow I deserve them? And to not deserve them I need to alter who I am and how I express myself by what I wear? – How is that in any way progress? I don’t ask to be commented on or objectified by random people who I don’t know.
So why didn’t I challenge them? Why didn’t I find someone at the station or transport police? Why did I let those men go on their journey home feeling their behaviour was acceptable and that they can treat others like that? They went home completely unaffected where as I sat on the train upset, shaken and feeling actually remarkably vulnerable.
I wish I could answer that question, was I scared they might be verbally abusive? Was I scared they would hurt me? Perhaps I was even worried the station staff would do nothing about it, putting it down as ‘one of those things’
Well I disagree it shouldn’t be ‘one of those things’ or ‘that’s how life is’. What I’m saying is the more we challenge this behaviour the more it will stop. If someone had made a racist comment it certainly wouldn’t be acceptable and would be taken seriously! So should this be! So please if this happens to you, challenge it. You have a right to go about your day without being made to feel uncomfortable about how you look through unwanted comments for others.
I for one will from now have the courage to speak out and challenge this behaviour as I do not deserve to be the one who in the end feels bad, upset and shaken about another’s unwanted sexually derogatory and inappropriate comments about me. I am worth more than that.