Punching the Pussy-Grabbers

BLOG_ Punching The Pussy-Grabbers

A brief (and incomplete) list of the times I’ve been sexually assaulted:

  • A boy at school gropes me and begins a pervasive rumour that I’m ‘easy’.

  • A man pins me against a bar while I’m waiting to be served and whispers in my ear that he would like to “fuck me up the arse”, then walks away as if nothing happened.

  • The so-called ‘artist’ painting me in a life drawing class removes his trousers (revealing his erection) and asks if he can “pose with me and take photographs”.

  • A man on the bus pushes me slowly but surely into the window. He tells me that he loves me and repeatedly asks me where I live. I tell him (loudly and repeatedly) that he is making me uncomfortable and that he needs to let me out. Everyone on the bus pretends not to notice.

  • Someone spikes my drink with ketamine at a house party, which causes me to lose control of my body. I come in and out of full consciousness on my friend’s bedroom floor. I have a panic attack.

  • A man grabs my arse while I’m carrying two full trays of drinks, knowing that there’s nothing I can do about it.

  • A stranger “just wants a hug” when I finish work at 3am. He grabs me and won’t let go, which prevents me from catching the night bus home.

  • A much older man repeatedly puts his hands up my top and down my pants when he knows that no one is looking.

  • A drunk man insists that he loves me and can’t understand why I won’t kiss him. I hold him back with a broom, but treat it as a joke for fear that he will become angry if I’m direct with him.

  • A man I hardly know puts his hands inside my clothes and starts fondling me while I’m sleeping. When I wake he says he “can’t believe how fast this is all moving”.

  • Various exes feel entitled to my body and coerce me into some sort of sexual activity after I tell them I’m not in the mood.

So forgive me if I am more than a little exhausted.

But do you know what the worst part is? It’s that I consider myself lucky. That my experience is nowhere near as bad as some. I know women (and men) who have been followed home. Who have been threatened. Masturbated on. Spat at. Hit. Raped.

And this is the world we’ve built for ourselves. A world in which all of the above – while shocking when taken together – are actually just a normal part of growing up female. We’ve created a climate in which sexual assault is absolutely pervasive, and yet to talk about it in any meaningful way is still deemed taboo and shameful. Assault is excused; it is ignored; it is even encouraged. It’s “just the way things are”. It’s “locker room talk”. It’s “boys will be boys”.

But that is changing. Slowly but surely. One #MeToo at a time.

A common theme of my newsfeed over the last few months has been women fighting back, often literally. I’m seeing reports of women punching men who grab them by their genitals, of women body-slamming arse-gropers, and of women squaring up to guys who think it’s perfectly acceptable to cop a feel on live TV. And to these women - although I feel the term ‘legends’ is more befitting - I say, fair fucking play. This is not the time to be turning the other cheek (because, let’s face it, they’d grab that one, too); this is the time to take a stand. And while I don’t believe in making the whole world blind, I do believe in creating a hostile environment for the type of entitlement that enables and emboldens men grope, humiliate, and otherwise assault us.

Because it is assault. The man who grabs your arse at the bar may well just be trying his luck, but touching another person sexually without their consent is sexual assault.

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So let’s keep standing up to these creeps. Let’s send out the very loud and very clear message that we are not here for the gratification of others. If this involves slamming your attacker into the floor, then more power to you (I’m not outright condoning violence – I merely find the sight of a man having his arse handed to him for grabbing a woman’s deeply satisfying), but this could also mean confronting them, embarrassing them, or even calling the police. Call out the behaviour in whatever way you feel comfortable doing. The only thing we shouldn’t do is ignore it.

Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.

Ignoring it means that you begin a blog post with an 11-point list detailing the times you were sexually assaulted.

And while responsibility for this ultimately falls with the perpetrators, I hold out little hope that the upskirters and pussy-grabbers will cease their bullshit overnight. So in the meantime, we need to own our power and stand the fuck up. Time’s up, bitches.

 

Article by VERVE "She Said" Contributor Sarah Bradnum

Personal: @SarahBradnum

Podcaster: @HungleQueens