Where is the line between sexism and sexual assault? Do they go hand in hand?

Sadly I don’t know one woman who has not experienced sexual assault. I have had male friends approach me for advice, concerned about an experience their girlfriend has shared with them . They cannot believe it when I explain that what happened is unacceptable, but, for me this is not shocking or surprising. Women talk about sexual assault as often as they experience it, sometimes its in the form of a joke, an eye roll, a drunken rant in a public bathroom or in a quiet and vulnerable disclosure.

I caught up with a group of boys I shared a uni flat with for our regular Christmas drinks. We drank wine and reminisced about uni days and a bar on Cowley Road a couple of us worked in. ‘Oh the owner was an arse! Remember when he put you in a chicken suit to promote a night!?’, we laughed remembering my poor friend humiliated in a chicken suit. Next I was in the hot seat, I had been fired from that job, the only time I have ever been fired. ‘You know, I think he had sex with me.’ This stopped the conversation dead in it’s tracks. Shit. Now I’ve ruined the mood. These boys, my ‘brothers’, immediately protective, concerned, upset. An onslaught of questions. ‘Well, I was drunk and I don’t really remember.’ I remember, but I don’t want to completely sour our Christmas celebration.

There is solidarity in sharing. There is solidarity in this website. Women experience sexism and sexual assault every day. I am thankful for all the women who have consoled me and consoled in me. I think it’s time we share this knowledge with the guys. To the men reading this forum, thank you, for being curious, open minded and conscientious. I’d like to share with you more often.

Communication is Power.