Sunday, 22 October 2017

Me Too.

I forget my 'Me Too' moments easily. The hashtag went viral a few days ago and only now did I remember being harassed in the street at 4 in the morning in Edinburgh when I was completely by myself. I forgot it because it wasn't traumatic. It wasn't traumatic because it was normal. I pretty much expected it to happen. The minute I started walking back I checked for anyone following me, looked around for people who might be trustworthy nearby, kept my hand on my phone ready to call a friend or my mum or the police. That is my default. The aim was to get home without being spoken to by a strange man with unspeakable intentions.

As I write about that experience I remember lots of others. I remember feeling afraid in broad daylight, I remember thinking out action plans in my head, I remember talking myself through how to defend myself. I remember being touched and then having a kind of sick, revolted feeling like I needed to wash.

I have put my keys between my knuckles just in case the man behind me in the dark isn't a kind one. I have struggled out of grasps intended to hold my reluctant body closer. I've been very close to thinking my assertive attitude wasn't going to help me out this time.

I have been shouted at,  I have been made to jump by white van men beeping their horns at me, I have been pushed into uncomfortable situations or conversations I have to try and get out of.

And I am lucky. None of this is that bad. None of this has scarred me. None of this has damaged me. I can talk about it. I am lucky. Millions and millions of women all over the world have had their lives changed for the worse. I am lucky to have been just touched, just a little bit frightened, just a little bit horrified.

I feel quite upset because I have all these memories of unwanted hands and catcalls and stares and I forgot about them because they are just what happen to women. They are what have happened to me since the age of 11. I always expect to have to push away a man who starts to grind on me at a club. I expect that he won't go away the first time. I expect there will be several similar men throughout the night.

I don't know what to do. I laugh sometimes, in their faces, but by accident because I'm genuinely shocked by the derogatory thing they've said. I've physically pushed them away. I've told them to fuck off. They've told me to fuck off back, and I'm not really sure how that works.

I've done all this for my friends. I've gone and I've grabbed their hand and pulled them away and stared the shit-head down with a glare reserved for a special sort of protective anger.

I forgot how this wasn't normal until this hashtag, phrase, movement allowed me to remember the hideousness of it all. It's hideous, it's awful, it's wrong. And I don't know how to stop it, but I will absolutely continue to say fuck off as much is necessary in the hope that someone gets the message eventually.