I have been a woman for ages, and I am no amateur woman either, I'm a professional woman. I've read Caitlin Moran's book and I am fully clued up on How to be a Woman. I went to University for three whole years studying Women's Studies, I represented women as a Women's Officer. I know about womaning.
I know about sexual assault and inappropriateness too. Sometimes I was even targeted because of being Women's Officer and doing Women's Studies. I have had lots of experiences, from minor to major, and I have been aware of lots of other women's experiences of all the many and various kinds.
I don't think you have to be a professional woman to have this experience, just looking like you might be a woman can get you lined right up for it. So I am not delighted that there are so very many women saying #MeToo at the moment, rather, I am delighted that we are all of us taking the same moment to pick up those disgusting rocks and show the nastiness underneath.
We have known about this for ages, but now everybody is talking about it.
That's not easy. It's made me remember a lot of things I'd rather not, it's made me wonder about the guilt that lays with me. I have been told by a woman that I was giving her unwanted attention - I should have asked and not assumed and not put her in a situation like that. I have advised other women not to report unless they were totally convinced that something would come of it. That was done out of wanting to protect them, but what if we had all reported? Would we have been talking about it sooner?
Reading people's experiences has particularly brought to mind one of my first experiences, wherein I agreed to go for a walk with someone who took me somewhere unsafe and assaulted me. He walked me to the train station after that, and I went with him, shocked, and scared. On that walk a man went past us and commented to the man 'you've got a pretty girl there.' Nothing was said to me. I didn't report it to the police for ages, and when I did I was told I shouldn't have gone with him and that things had just gone a little too far and now I'd know not to be so daft in future.
I am pretty sure that wouldn't happen now. I hope that wouldn't happen now. I might have been stupid to go for a walk with him, to go to the unsafe place, but it is not my fault that he did what he did. That is on him. The thing I wonder is though, how great a leap it was for him to behave like that in a society where it would be reasonable to complement a strange man on the prettiness of the girl he was with. It's clear in that that girls and women were just seen as things to have, not as people.
I think we're getting to the point wherein we're seen as people, but we are still living in societies built on ideas that we aren't.