Here is an article I wrote for the company, Globe Of Love. I write this article based on my experiences with Sexual Violence and the increase of attacks heard about in the news. It is about changing the perception of harassment, and instead of ignoring it, shouting back our discomfort. This company is an online magazine that provides inspiration and positive messages around the globe for everyone.
Sexual violence towards women has been around for decades. This violence is not only associated to physical acts such as sexual assault and rape, but includes comments and unwanted advances. With the marital law being passed at the late date of 1991 in the UK, it seems that society sees the protection and support of women as an item low on their agenda.
What spurred me to write this article is a recent incident that occurred in Fallowfield in Manchester, which was where I lived throughout my time at University. A 19 year old woman was walking home from a night out, and was dragged into an alleyway and raped. Sadly, this is not the first case in Fallowfield, as sexual violence is a regular occurrence in that area. Looking back in reflection throughout my time at university, I realised this atrocious act could have easily happened to me, and I am lucky it didn’t. Because I enjoyed exploring Manchester’s nightlife, I was frequently venturing home late at night alone, meaning I did receive a number of “scares”. I was followed home, I had a car slow down and pull over with a man trying to “give me a lift home”, I have been groped, I have had my ass smacked, I have been targeted when vulnerable and forced to assent to advances I would have rejected if sober, I have been catcalled and I have been insulted because of rejecting these catcallers.
With staggering statistics of a quarter of women getting sexually harassed on a night out, we can recognise that my experiences are just a drop in the ocean. Now, 1 in 5 women experience some form of sexual violence from the age of 16 and 85 thousand women, on average, are raped within the UK every year. The scale of victims is so large it’s hard to register. The same amount of women being raped every year is the entire population of the nearest city to me, Guildford. Imagine that, a city of victims. It is twice the amount of every McDonalds, Burger King, Nando’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, Dominoes, Papa Johns, Budgens, Marks and Spencers, Sainbury’s, Morrisons, Tesco’s, Waitrose, Aldi, Lidl, Asda, The Co-Operative, Cost-Cutter, Iceland, Londis, Spar and Wetherspoons in the entirety of the UK.
But women are now rising up to sexism and the harms we suffer daily. More and more are using the “F Word”, with which I mean Feminism, because just like me, were sick of it. Although some men face sexual violence, they do not receive such a large scale of abuse and hardships that women do, in all aspects of our life. Some people, both men and women, respond to Feminists- “aren’t you happy with the life you have?” or “why are you so angry for?” Well, if you took a moment to register the misogynistic, male dominated world where you are targeted and you receive sexual violence because of your gender, on a daily basis, you would be a Feminist too. For example, I have had four jobs where I have received sexual violence; whether it is unwanted advances or disgusting comments, which have been from customers, colleagues and even my bosses. I want to be able to work in an environment where being friendly is not seen as flirting, where I can be myself and not have to ignore remarks and behaviour .
Times are changing. Since I was 12 years old, I have always shrugged off unwanted attention and sexual violence. But now, I and other women are finally standing up for ourselves, but we do so at a price. Mary Brandon, who rejected a groper at Notting Hill Carnival, was immediately punched in the face for doing so, whereas my good friend Camilla received a nasty threat to “watch her back”, when she politely responded to cat callers that she “wasn’t interested”. A similar thing happened to me recently, when I decided to stand up against sexual violence. I went out with a friend and I was assaulted. When I turned around and said, “Excuse me mate, but that’s my ass, not yours to touch”, he went to hit me. I urged him to do so, as then “I could show the world how often we are sexually assaulted by physical evidence”. That when people would be shocked by my face and would ask me what happened, I could say why, further highlighting the injustice we face.
However, women alone cannot change the way men think, behave and act. Women and men need to unite and respond to these acts that some think are “a bit of banter”; by stating how it is objectifying, disrespectful and makes us feel uncomfortable- rather than just ignoring it, as we have done for many years. One easy step in the right direction is spreading the use of the Twitter account: @EveryDaySexism, as this highlights to all what is okay and not okay, allowing others to acknowledge what makes women feel uncomfortable. Living in a first world country with vast technological advances, we should learn to challenge the inequalities in our country, before acting, or even commenting on anyone else’s.