I was inappropriately touched at my brother’s wedding by an elderly relative of the bride. It was the reception, and we had just been introduced. He held his hand out for me to shake and I shook it. Instead of letting go of my hand, he held on and said ‘turn around’. I was confused for a moment, when he said ‘there’s sand on the back of your dress’. As I turned to look at the back of my dress, he grabbed by arm and turned me away so I couldn’t see it. I began to protest that I hadn’t sat in any sand, but he was already running his hand forcefully down my lower back and over my arse. He did this three times. The skirt of my dress was full and sat out quite a way from my body. He pressed so hard that the stiff fabric moved back against my body, and the force pushed my hips forward. As this was happening, I was looking my uncle straight in the eye. He did nothing. After the perpetrator finished, I glared at him. He responded with ‘oh, I told your dad about it.’ About a minute after the incident, I went to my uncle and said ‘you hold him, I’ll hit him’. He looked very uncomfortable and didn’t make eye contact. He said ‘yes, I could see you didn’t look…’ he didn’t finish his sentence and turned away awkwardly. I then went to find my father. I asked my father if the perpetrator had spoken to him about sand on the back of my dress. He said no. I told him what had happened, and my father said ‘yes, he’s a really sleazy old bastard’. I said I was aware of that, and repeated what had just happened. My father then said ‘don’t let it get to you, don’t let it spoil your night. Move on. There are plenty of men like that in the world.’ I replied that I was well aware of how many men there were like that in the world, but the conversation ended there and I was frustrated that, once again and as always, nothing was going to happen to the man who touched me inappropriately. I logged on my extremely restricted private Facebook page and posted a #MeToo post, briefly summarising what had happened, and in a response to a friend’s comment alluded to the identity of the perpetrator. The responses from my close friends got me through the rest of the night sitting so close to the old man who had touched me, and I felt supported. The next day, my mother received a text message from the bride demanding that I remove the post. My mother, father, the bride and her family began to blame me for ruining the wedding. According to my mother, my uncle denied any knowledge of the assault. My mother and father told me to take the post down and apologise to the bride and her family. I refused. My father offered to help me get justice, but only if I apologised to the bride and explained my actions. Again, I refused. For the next 20 hours I sheltered in my room in our shared accommodation while my father raged at me through the door. He said these things should be dealt with quietly and privately, not on social media for the whole world to see. He said I was a coward, and that perhaps that was why I experience sexual assault so often. When I asked if he honestly thought that was why I was repeatedly sexually assaulted as a 19/20 year old by someone twice my age at work (I provided graphic details which I do not feel comfortable sharing here), he told me I was stupid. I had never told my father of my experience of sexual assault before. His response was to call me ‘stupid’. With the help of a family member and friends I was able to exit the accommodation and return to my home in another state. I have not heard anything from my family since the incident. That my own family could victim-blame like this shocks and disgusts me more than I can articulate. In the scheme of my experiences, this was a minor incident, but and incident none the less. How badly does a family member need to be violated before you will not blame them for speaking out? Is it just when the incident occurs at a special event that we must stay quiet? Personally, I would have preferred to kick him to the ground and stand with my heel to his throat until he announced to the entire reception what he had just done. I didn’t do that. I didn’t create a scene. It was my brother’s wedding. I didn’t want to spoil the day. Is posting a #MeToo post on my private Facebook page after the fact really ruining the wedding? Of course not. This is just more pathetic victim-blaming.
I need feminism because when I was 4, we learned the colours. After class, a group of boys came up to me and asked what my favourite colour was. I said “blue” and and one of them replied, “you can’t like blue, it’s a boy colour”. Upon telling him that my dad’s favourite colour was purple, I was told, “your dad must be a girl then”. I didn’t tell my dad because I thought that being compared to a girl would upset him too much. My dad is a feminist. I need feminism because when I was 13, my class worked on a project with NATS AIS. In the final stage of the competition, I was transferred into a group with 6 boys ‘for representation’. As project manager of my last team, I assumed that I’d have some creative input and delegation opportunities. I was put on research with a guy who played 2048 the whole time but still took full credit for the work I did. One lesson, the project manager was away so I took it upon myself to show some initiative and start the PowerPoint presentation. The next day, it had been deleted without a thought and a new one was being made; it was exactly the same but grammatically incorrect. When I tried to argue, I was called bossy and told to ‘get back in the kitchen or wherever [I was] supposed to be’. I need feminism because I saw the bewildered look on Harvey’s face when I did better than him on a physics test., despite the fact that I had beaten him on every science test beforehand. He used to call me dumb every lesson, still does. He just can’t believe that a somewhat attractive girl has the capacity to be good at science. Or maybe his ego’s just big. I need feminism because a girl I go to school with got raped by a boy in our year. For three weeks leading up to the event, she had reported him to the school 6 times for touching her inappropriately in class, she even had witnesses. He got a ‘serious talking to’ and nothing more. He wasn’t even moved away from her in class. She came into school crying and she stopped talking for a few days. One of our mutual friends got really mad at her for ‘being over-dramatic and complaining too much’. When I got angry at this, she said “well if it had been me, I would’ve just told him to stop and kicked him in the balls’. I had no words.
told a close friend about my experience being harassed (actually jeered at and almost followed home for ignoring sexual advances) which made me very wary of interacting with men/male-aligned people for a period of time. select responses: “i knew there was another reason you weren’t chatting with me,” and, “yes i do benefit from male privilege but i never in my life have harassed women,” with the implication that my wariness/withdrawal was unfair to them. as opposed to being MY decision after facing a threatening situation.
I want to share my story without my last name so I’m not identifiable (or at least easily identifiable). When I was 17 y/o, three days before my birthday, I was in a pool party with my high school classmates. I was taking pills and irresponsibly mixed them with alcohol. I was aware of everything, but my body didn’t respond; I couldn’t move nor talk correctly, but I was aware of everything. My (then) best friend thought it was a perfect opportunity to rape me, so he did. People began talking about me being a slut and such, because they didn’t know I was raped, they just “saw me leaving with the dude” (he was carrying my indefensible body, I was not leaving willingly, anyway…). For two weeks aproximately (the time a gossip usually lasts in school), when people asked me what happened I’d say that it was all consensual with him, ’cause I was embarrassed and felt guilty for my rape; I felt it was my fault, so I’d say that it was consensual to avoid victim-blaming and maybe to trick my own brain into believing it didn’t happen. For years I lived with guilt (since I thought what happened was my fault), until recently (two years, a year and a half, maybe) when it really hit me. Feminism helped me realize it’s not my fault at all. And I began talking about it without that much shame. Now, the only thing I regret was not reporting my rapist with the authorities (or at least with the school) and telling everyone who he really was. Now, I conciously know that my rape was nobody’s fault but his. BUT, unconciously, I still blame myself. I hate it. I hate that I can’t change my unconsciousness. It harms my physical wellbeing, my sexual life with my loving, feminist boyfriend. It harms my interpersonal relationships in general. I don’t know what to say. I just feel a little bit better when I talk about it because I feel a physical relief from my shoulders. Thanks for the space. – María
I was followed twice in the same day, two different locations, by the same man. I don’t know if, to this day, meeting him the second time was a coincidence or if he had followed me all day. When I phoned my boyfriend, very upset and in shock, the first time, he shouted at me for phoning him instead of going straight to find a police officer. When I told my boyfriend about the second following, he shouted at me and told me it was my own fault for walking down a street with no CCTV to get to work.
A couple of things: My cousin’s just had a baby girl, so I was in the post office this morning looking for a card to send to congratulate them. The cards were, yep, you’ve guessed it, segregated by gender, with the ‘girl’ section being pink & the ‘boy’ section being blue. I ended up getting a gender-neutral one. I was in another shop after this, that sells magazines. I happened to glance at a copy of That’s Life magazine, & there was a story on the front cover about how someone’s 12-year-old child was raped by a family ‘friend’, & it said something to the effect of ‘was it my fault?’ underneath. It saddened me that this child’s parent could think that they were to blame for their child getting raped- at the end of the day, the ONLY person responsible for rape is a rapist, & this scumbag who called himself a family friend (with friends like that, who needs enemies?!) abused the parent’s trust when he raped their child. The ridiculous notion that everyone but rapists are to blame for rape needs to be challenged- there is no place in modern society for attitudes like that.