I’m feeling particularly emotionally raw right now and I don’t think that is always the best way to start a blog but I need to write so here I am.
Our eldest cub has been part of a wonderful experience. A group of 16-19 year olds are found and brought together to learn how to be better advocate for the various causes close to their hearts. If you are from South London you may have seen one campaign which swapped out White Actors for some fresh Black faces for the likes of Titanic and Harry Potter https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/03/young-brixton-activists-recreate-film-posters-with-black-leads
One of the other voices being heard was from an incredibly courageous young woman who spoke about sexual misconduct and harassment at school and college. She gave a detailed account of an awful encounter where a teacher stood watching, never intervening and eventually moving on with their lesson plan without consequences for the sexual nature of the incident nor a comforting word to this young person. The story continued when she arrived home in tears feeling degraded and disgusted where she was again left unsupported as her female family members told her that it was inevitable and she should just accept that these things happen and move on.
Let me set my cards out. She was forced down on a desk and grinded upon, sexually explicit words were used. If that happened to me I would call the police. If that happened to my child I would call the police. If I was informed that it had happened in front of my child I would call the police. It is *never* okay to press your genitalia against another person and move your body in a way that simulates the act of sexual intercourse. It isn’t okay to ever *say* that it is something you would do unless part of a mutual exchange of sexual flirtation.
Why do we think it is okay for one person to invade the personal space of another? If he had slapped her, would that be ignored? If she had knee’d him in his genitalia, would that be acceptable? If she hit back after being assaulted in this way, who do you think would be held accountable for their actions?
Her story is, unfortunately, not unique. Her mother was correct when she said that it happens, however, she no longer needs to accept it as normal and she can fight back.
It isn’t her story that has upset me though. A married couple, who I respect greatly, were retold this young person’s story. Their first reactions were to NOT BELIEVE HER! I can almost understand why a 30 something cis male would be wary of this tale but I’m not so understanding of the 30 something cis female. I saw this beginning whilst at school. It doesn’t surprise me. This couple are university graduates, educators themselves, and otherwise what I would consider feminists. With the #metoo campaign, I hoped that more people could see for themselves that unacceptable behaviour happens daily, that it happens in front of our teachers, our bosses, our leaders, and is often perpetrated by these same persons, and that we have the responsibility to have faith that an 18 year old tells us the truth about her experiences. If we continue to hold these accounts at arm’s length and question the validity of likelihood then we are doing our young people, our sisters, nieces, aunts, mothers, grandmothers, bestfriends, our children, a huge disservice. If we are still doing this with our female family, colleagues, and friends, then we are also incredibly unlikely to believe the males in our lives who have also suffered at the hands of a power hungry perpetrator.
If you are still ignoring the abuses you are part of the problem. If you are part of the problem you can never be part of the solution and it is unlikely that we will ever have a resolution which sees this behaviour never going unpunished again.