Everybody is doing a survey trying to establish just how bad the situation is. I don’t think we need surveys to know it’s bad, very bad. But here is what worries me. What is the definition of sexual harassment and sexual abuse? If someone told you an inappropriate joke, said you look sexy, made a sexual suggestion or whistled as you walked passed, does that count? I believe that if you are complaining about nonsense, you are undermining those who have survived “proper” abuse. I don’t believe that I have been sexually abused or harassed. My first husband always said that no one would dare attack me. I know I’m controversial and not as fragile as some but believe some cry wolf because they feel left out. To you, I say, grow a vagina and stand up for yourself. Yes, I know that you need the job, want to keep the relationship and fear for your safety but if you let the predator get away with it you are perpetuating the problem. I thought I’d share some of the incidents I have experienced and how I dealt with them. I am not scarred and do not believe I have been abused.
The first time was when I was about 13 and a drunk man became very aggressive towards a woman I didn’t know. I walked up and told him to pick on someone his own size.
I was a tiny 13-year-old so this left him confused and he threatened to hit me. I invited him to do and warned him to make sure it was his best shot because chances are he wouldn’t get up again. I moved in with my fist resting very close to his testicles. He backed down.
In a second encounter, I had a boyfriend whose dad took a fancy to me. It took me a while to work out why he was always around when I was alone. One day he made a grab. I stepped back, slapped his hand and asked if he was #[email protected]*&% mad? He was so shocked. I marched to the door and said that if he followed me again I would tell his wife, daughter and son. I finished it off with a “Sis!” In another incident, I was in a supermarket waiting to pay. A man was standing behind me, invading every inch of my personal space. I moved forward to “see air” as they say in rugby. He moved closer. I moved forward again and so did he. I turned around and asked him to step back. He glared, I moved again, so did he. I turned around, cupped his testicles in my hand, gave them a juggle and asked in a very loud voice if this is what he wanted because I was very happy to oblige. He left.
Once I had a man show me his genitals in a lift. I looked at it and said: “Put it away, it’s nothing to be proud of.” He made his escape at the next stop.
A man I met at a business networking function sent me a picture of his private parts the next day. I wrote back and asked what in the world he thought he was doing? I asked what I had done to make him think I wanted to see his unimpressive penis? He didn’t reply.
If we continue to let every sexual innuendo or comment count as abuse we are in serious trouble. If you do not stand up for yourself and make the limits clear, what will happen? Just because you were offended and didn’t say anything does not mean you were abused. You bear a responsibility. Say something, tell someone and confront the offending person. Do it loudly for maximum effect.
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