Consider for a second the fact that there is no woman you know who has not been mistreated by men.
Perhaps you know a small female child who is happy and free and uncrushed by the world but now consider the horrifying fact that sometime in the next 10 years she will also collect her own horrifying story, her one thousand slings and arrows of men’s bad behavior.
All week I’ve seen friends and strangers come forwards with devastating stories that were at once shocking and all too familiar. I’ve had my own #metoo rattling around in my breast but I am unwilling to come forwards and release it to the light.
I feel slightly like a coward but I don't want to dredge up all the times I have been made to feel small, or scared, or disgusting, all the times men’s hands have gone where they shouldn’t , all the times voices have turned ugly and hands have turned violent, the sheer number of penises I’ve seen that I didn't want to see.
I am a drop in the ocean, am a fraction of a huge statistic and I know this but the pain is not proportionally sized.
I am opposed to baring my most hurtful personal memories in public on the off chance that a man might learn a fucking lesson.
It makes me furious and that is bad because I shouldn’t be furious because this is a conversation that should be had in good faith. I’m being unfair and hashtag not all men and so on. Except I’m sorry boys but I am talking to you because the second there is a good man exception all boys believe that is the section they belong to and they walk off unencumbered and I do want you to be cumbered for just a second.
Do not bury your heads in the sand or shake them in disbelief and say ‘wow i had no idea.” You were there. How could you have missed it. How can you walk through the world like it is a sunny day while all the women in your life are dodging hail.
Except it is not the weather, it is not an unavoidable fact of nature it is your behaviour and the behaviour of your friends. You are throwing rocks at us and the only advice we get is to dodge more, or wear armour.
I don’t know how to fix it but I want the impetus to be on you for just a second. Think about it, the sheer depressing scope of sexual assault, harassment violence. Think of every single woman you know. And don’t throw rocks.
Out of all possible memories, one rather inconsequential one has been occupying me for the last few days. I was 11 years old and going to a costume party. I was dressed (please forgive me) as Hannah Montana. An odious little boy with a sly grin asked if I had come dressed as a slut.
I was telling this story as a funny tale recently (it ends with me slapping that boy across the face) and a male friend interjected to say, “Were you?”
“Were you dressed like a slut?”
It breaks my heart to think of myself at 11, still an unironic fan of the disney channel, humiliated and hurt being forced to defend herself and her prepubescent body against sexualisation and the inevitable sexual insult and harassment that follow. And it makes me furious I am being still being forced to defend her 12 years later.