I am 37 years old. During my lifetime, I have been seriously sexually assaulted, sexually harassed, groped and told I have ‘beautiful blowjob lips’. I have been bartered over, whilst present in the room. “Suck my dick, and I’ll pay for your dinner,” “I bet you’re a right dirty bitch,” “You look like someone who can handle a cock,” are just a tiny example of things that have been said to me.
I am 37 years old. During my lifetime, I believed many of these things being said to me were compliments. I believed all the uninvited assaults and harassments were my fault. I believed that objecting to these assumptions about my character made me boring and unlikeable. The times I did speak up, I was silenced with five innocuous words. “Can’t you take a joke?”
I am 37 years old. I have finally realised the power of these words. I want my daughter to understand these words. I want my daughter to understand where the blame really lies when she inevitably hears these words. I want my daughter to not be afraid of these words like I always was.
Many won’t understand that what they are saying is belittling, hurtful and archaic. They may believe that their words are a joke (or ‘banter’, whatever the fuck that means). They may accuse you of being over sensitive and/or lacking a sense of humour. These people lack the intelligence to even begin to understand. They are fucking idiots. However, their idiocy doesn’t provide them with a free pass to go through their lives causing hurt and anguish to other people.
There will also be those who know they are in the wrong. They will use words to see how easy it is to knock you off balance, to make you believe it is your fault for taking it the wrong way. To make you believe you somehow deserved it. They will know that a line has been crossed. They should feel ashamed but whether they do, I don’t know. All I do know is, they will try to pass the shame onto you. They are fucking cowards.
I am 37 years old. For the rest of my lifetime, I will not be afraid of those five words. I will defend my body, my self-respect and my right to object. I will push back against misogyny and sexism with the fierce female determination I inherently possess. I will not carry the burden of shame gifted to me by fucking idiots and cowards and neither will my daughter. I have a voice. It will no longer be silenced by ignorance.