In light of all the YouTube sexual abuse drama that's been going on at the moment, I've been thinking about the subject a lot. And I'm angry. And disappointed. So disappointed that we are still living in a society where men believe it's okay to do what they want to women because they think 'she wants it'. The fact that role models for younger generations are being revealed as abusers is extremely worrying. It seems that nowhere is safe, but if we aren't showing people the correct way to behave, how do we expect this to change?
What if a woman doesn't 'want it'? Have you thought to ask her?
It seems that lately, there are a lot of 'no''s in response to that last question. And I'm wondering why. Why do men feel that they can treat women in such derogatory ways? Don't get me wrong, I know that it is not always women who are the victims, but they are definitely the majority.
All too often I'll be out in a bar or club with my friends and men will quite happily squeeze or touch any part of me they wish. And when I turn around to question just what the hell they think they're doing, more often than not they have a smirk on their face. This behaviour is not right and it needs to stop. Just because I wear dresses with bare legs, or make an effort with my appearance, you do NOT have the right to touch me without my permission. Women are not play things, we are not here purely to fulfill your sexual desires, we are people. I'm pretty certain that if I were to start touching up guys as they walked by me I'd get some odd looks. So why are we surrounded by a culture that allows for this behaviour to continue?
'It's just a bit of banter, love, chill out'. Sexual harassment is not banter. It's not funny, and it is not okay.
When you say the phrase 'sexual abuse' most people's initial thought would be of rape. But that's not all. Sexual abuse is any form of intimacy, even just a kiss, that takes place without your consent, regardless of your gender. If someone is pressuring you in any way to agree to do something you've acknowledged you're uncomfortable with, they are abusing you.
So, 'lads', when you're having a 'banterful' grope of a girl in a club that hasn't said that's okay with her, you're committing a crime. You have not been given consent to touch her. Stop. And when you manage to psychologically manipulate someone into feeling guilty enough to eventually succumb to your advances, remember that that is a crime.
I don't think enough people realise or treat the issue seriously enough. If we did, it wouldn't be such a common occurrence. Being abused can be severely damaging. Victims often find it hard to put themselves back into the situation where the attack took place. They can feel uncomfortable in their own clothes, believing they should cover up to prevent the same from happening again. They begin to wonder whether it was their fault all along, 'Did I lead them on? I must've given off the wrong signals...my skirt was short that night'. Trust me, I know.
But it is NOT our fault. And I cannot stress this enough. It doesn't matter what you wear, how you dance, what you choose to act like, unless you consent nobody has the right to do anything to you. Regardless of how much they think 'you want it'.
If you have been a victim of sexual abuse, please do not blame yourself. You didn't ask to be treated this way, we're just unfortunately stuck in a really shitty time where this terrible ideology of 'lad culture' seems to be growing.
But, if we keep speaking out about this maybe one day it'll change.
Until then, I urge all women to remember this:
Whatever we wear,
Wherever we go,
Yes means yes
And no means no.
Thanks for reading, guys. I'd love to hear your opinions on this topic.