Today, the discussion on my timeline has centred on two things; this excellent piece by the Irish Examiner’s Colette Browne, and this utterly repellent Kickstarter project, that dispenses advice on sexually abusing and harassing women in public masked as dating advice.
In her article, Browne recounted situations that are sadly all too familiar to many of the women reading it, myself included.
The time a man in a pub grabbed my hand and placed it on his crotch because he wanted me to feel his erection and “see what I had done to him”. The time I was on a deserted train carriage when a man, sitting opposite from me, began to masturbate. I stood up and got out at the next stop. There was the time I went to a friend’s house party and, having gone to sleep in a spare box room, woke up in the middle of the night to find a man in bed with me with his hand up my top.
As the post was shared, most of the men I follow reacted with horror, but for the women, the sentiment was slightly different; revulsion, yes, but also weariness and exasperation.
Browne tweeted that this was the typical reaction. Many women said that they had had similar experiences, and regretted not doing anything about it at the time.
A particular incident that stands out for me occurred Arthur’s Day 2011, as I was shopping in Penneys in Galway. It was about 4.30 or 5, and I was queuing at the till. Two young guys, clearly already pretty obviously drunk, sidled up behind me, and one of them proceeded to grope my breast. From this remove, I’m frustrated with myself. I’m annoyed that I didn’t drop my purchases and dispense a swift kick to the balls to the little prick, or roar for security or DO ANYTHING, apart from standing rigid in the queue, silently paying and slinking off home. I’m incredibly introverted by nature; I’ll cross the road if I’m out for a walk and see a group of more than two coming in the opposite direction, so I’m averse to confrontation.
While that was an outstanding incidence, micro-aggressions occur on a regular basis while out in clubs or bars. I’ve had my arse groped countless times while in queues or ordering at bars. I’ve had my glasses pulled off and hair pieces, etc. grabbed at. I once had a man follow me and pull my hair when I refused to engage with him. A more minor irritation, but a particular bugbear of mine is being told to ‘smile’. Urgh. What do these men want, do they think that I’ve been put on this earth to greet their very presence with delight? That we should be permanently wearing rictus grins for their amusement?
This events, these micro-aggressions take place time and time again, and virtually any women you talk to will recognise these scenarios. It seems that simply being out and about is an act of extreme audacity, and that this sleazy harassment is the tax we pay for it.
I’m tired of it.
These are our streets aswell.