Ladies, how many of you have been sexually assaulted at some point in your lives?
I am not talking rape (although that definitely comes into the discussion) I mean a “casual” grope, a lingering hand, an unwanted touch? “But that’s not sexual assault” I hear you cry. It bloody well is!!!
The legal definition of sexual assault is:
“A person (A) commits an offence if—
(a) A intentionally touches another person (B),
(b)the touching is sexual,
(c)B does not consent to the touching, and
(d)A does not reasonably believe that B consents” (Sexual Offences Act 2003. S3(1))
Looking at that definition I can think of MULTIPLE times that I personally have been sexually assaulted, the worst led to counselling, a close 2nd led to my best friend nearly roundhousing someone in the face. Said person ran up to me, in a night club & stuck his face in my cleavage whilst I was on a night out. None of these times I have reported to the police, and not one of them would stand up in court.
Why? Because we live in a society where it appears to be accepted, it is just “banter”, blokes having fun. People don’t stand up when they see their mates being disrespectful to a woman, women “slut shame” each other all the freaking time and one of the most powerful men in the world thinks it is ok to talk about grabbing a woman by the pussy.
When I worked in the nightclub industry I was VERY lucky that the security staff took my safety very seriously. Even when I was there and not working, if I had a problem, or any of my mates had an issue with a guy, said guy would be politely asked to leave. If he refused he would be removed. Unfortunately this is not the case everywhere.
Multiple women (and some men) have come forward on Twitter after a post by the WONDERFUL @VixMeldrew stating that they have been inappropriately touched when out and the staff have done nothing. “if it’s not on CCTV there is nothing we can do”. Personally I think that is utter BS. OF COURSE there is something you can do. In the case I mentioned above, there were MULTIPLE witnesses, many of which made sure I was ok after the incident, but security didn’t care that more than just me & my mate were saying it.
Now, I am not for one second saying that ALL men are responsible for assaults of this nature. I am saying that EVERYONE, men and women, have a responsibility to each other to call out this kind of behaviour. That hand that lingers too long, that grope in a night club that your mate dares you to do (and yes, that means when women do it to blokes too), the total disregard for the words ‘no thank you’. I can’t go back to the past but if I could I would make sure I took my cases to the police. I would not have let that guy in the club get away with saying sorry to my mate just so she would let him go. I would call out EVERY. SINGLE. TIME that someone made an inappropriate sexual comment or gesture about me or a friend of mine; because that is where it starts. Sexual assault doesn’t just happen. People learn that it is OK to talk about women with utter disrespect, that a woman doesn’t own her own body, that it is OK to touch her wherever you want. IT REALLY IS NOT OK!!!
I beg you, men and women alike, educate each other. Because I for one am fed up of a culture where it is the victim who needs to change their ways; the victim who is told they were wearing the wrong clothes, they were walking home alone, they were dancing, they were standing near someone so it must be their fault.
And before all you blokes come in and say “it happens to blokes too” I know it does. And that is STILL NOT OK! If it happens to you, call it out. Tell that girl that it is not ok, ask her if she would think it was OK if it happened to her, I can almost guarantee that she will say no.