You may have seen last week the hashtag ‘MeToo’ trending across social media. Bought about by Actor Alyssa Milano after the Harvey Weinstein revelations surfaced, it has opened up a discussion as to actually just how many women have been assaulted at some point in their lives. It got me thinking about myself and whether it had ever happened to me. To be honest, I kind of dismissed it. I mean, I have never been blackmailed or forced into having sex with anyone. This hashtag doesn’t apply to me does it?
However something changed my opinion on Saturday night. It is something that happens to me at least half of the time that I am on a night out. However, this time a male friend witnessed it for the first time.
Picture the scene. It is the early hours of Sunday morning. I, just like the rest of my friends, am drunk. We are having a great night, laughing, joking and dancing around. The drinks have been flowing since around 6pm.
A random guy approaches our group and attempts to dance with my friend. She isn’t interested and moves away. He does the same thing to another friend. Again she isn’t interested.
I approach him to ask him to stop trying to dance with our group as we are having a good time by ourselves. Before I had even shouted a word, both of his hands extended outwards and he grabbed both my breasts.
Shocked and obviously angry I pushed him away and went straight to the nearest bouncer. I told him precisely what had happened and his exact advice was ‘Just stay away from him’. This was the bouncers advice! The guy was supposed to be looking out for the punters and this was his advice! WTF
However, I walked away and prepared to just keep an eye out for the creep. This was when my friend intervened. I think this is honestly the first time that a male friend of mine has ever witnessed something like this happening to me. I speak about being touched up against my will a fair bit to mates, but I just don’t think it registers as they have never seen it with their own eyes.
My friend literally dragged me back to the bouncer and informed him that the creep needed to be removed and that actually what he had witnessed was sexual assault. Thankfully the bouncer listened to him (although why the hell he didn’t take my complaint seriously enough the first time is beyond me) and I believe the creep was removed from the venue for the remainder of the night.
My friend was livid and the more I thought about it the more angry I got. Why does this happen so often? Not just to me, but to women generally. You only have to see how many times the hashtag ‘MeToo’ has been used on Twitter and Facebook over the last week or so to know that this IS a problem. And is ISN’T going away any time soon. Facebook have stated that within 24 hours, 4.7 million people around the world engaged in the #MeToo conversation, with over 12m posts, comments, and reactions. This goes to show just how widespread this is. People in France, Spain and Arab countries have been using their own version of the hashtag.
But you want to know what the other problem is? When I spoke to friends about it, the comments ranged from ‘What were you wearing to provoke that reaction?’ to ‘But you didn’t even have your boobs on show!’ and even ‘How drunk were you?’.
It shouldn’t bloody matter if I was in a bikini! I don’t expect to be groped on a beach, why should it be any different in a bar?
This is just one of many, MANY times this has happened to me. It’s happened across the UK, from Nottingham to Birmingham, Newcastle to London.
I doubt very much that any of my male friends have ever had their penis grabbed by someone on a night out. If they have, it has certainly never been discussed. I hope to god it has never happens, it is abhorrent. Just like being inappropriate to a woman, sexual assault against men is disgusting too. Make sexual assault is sometimes still seen as a joke, as funny. If you hear about a 25 year old teacher abusing a 14 year old girl, it’s horrific. Yes if the gender roles are reversed, the 14 year old male student is suddenly a hero. Why?
We need the attitudes of both men and women to change if we want this way of thinking to change. The comments above came from both male and female friends.
The more we talk about this, the more we inform friends and family that this happens to US, their mate, daughter, sister, the more we can influence others and change opinions. Until then women are at risk every moment of the day or night.