I experienced a rather upsetting incident of sexual harassment last night and I have decided to voice my opinion on the matter because too many people remain silent about this sort of thing. Please, all my wonderful friends and family, take a second to read what I have written. I have not posted this for attention. I have posted this in the hope that it may help someone, who may find them selves in a much worse situation to seek help. Also to remind everyone to be careful and look after yourselves. I am so thankful that our situation didn’t escalate, it could have been much worse and I know there are people out there who have experienced much worse.
A horrible incident.
I came home this evening struggling to breath, in the middle of a panic attack and bawling my eyes out. I don’t cry, I don’t get unnerved and I certainly NEVER let my guard down!!
The tears tonight were caused by two people, who assumed superiority over two women alone at a bus stop in Camden in London, just trying to get home after a night out. The two humans in questions, who happen to male, felt it okay to approach my friend and I, and physically harass us. One of these men commented on my friends backside and proceeded to touch and caress her, totally uninvited, as she quite clearly tried to get away from him. The other man proceeded to interrogate me about my sexual preferences and ask was I jealous because my backside was not as desirable? Trying to keep calm and not escalate the situation we politely declined their advances as they were obviously very drunk, we tried to edge away. At no point did we invite them to converse any further with us, we definitely did not invite them to touch us in ANYWAY or invade our personal space.
A bus then arrived, the number N28, and although this was not the bus we were waiting on, it was going in the direction we needed, and since we felt unsafe with these men hanging around, we proceeded to make for the bus together. These men then started screaming abuse at us. Calling us sluts and whores and yelling how dare we cock tease them. I have never experienced such revolting language in all my life. The aggression and animalistic behaviour that was being hurled at us was terrifying. It all came on in a split second. We obviously realised very quickly that the situation became hostile and got on the bus as fast as we could. I asked the bus driver, in a voice of pure fear and desperation, could he please close the doors. He would not however close the door until our oyster cards had been swiped. Now don’t get me wrong, I totally understand that bus drivers in London, (especially coming through Camden) must have to put up with a lot of hassle, fights and brawls, general drunken behaviour etc, but when two women get on a bus clearly in distress, with two guys hurling abuse at them, surely the safe thing to do would have been to close the damn door?! The delay in the driver closing the door meant that one of the men threw an entire can of beer at me. It hit me square in the back and exploded beer all over my jacket and jeans. This is physical assault! Mild yes, but assault none the less. There was a bus full of people and crowds of people on the street and they did nothing! Not one person lifted their head in protest to what was happening. Now, I understand, given the fact that it was the early hours of the morning; people don’t want to get involved with drunken disputes for fear of their own safety. I totally get that. However, there were people in our vicinity who witnessed the very beginning of the situation and could quite clearly see we were trying to get away from these men.
I am utterly disgusted in two main factors from this experience. Firstly, the bystanders. Next time you witness something like this, please think how you would feel if this was your sister, wife or mother in this situation. I know the world is a big scary place and everyone is out for themselves, but I really had hoped that safety in numbers counted for something. I was obviously very sorely mistaken. And to the bus driver that sat by and allowed the situation to escalate further when he could have shut the doors and helped us all feel a little bit safer from the men outside – I have even less faith in humanity than ever before.
The second and main grievance I have is the everyday sexism that is so rife within our generation. It’s always small things, like the odd comment or unfair judgement that you read about, but until something like this happens to you, I can assure you, you will never truly relate. The fact that these men thought it acceptable to approach us, totally uninvited already shows the lack of mutual respect for one another. I am sickened by the further insistence of their clearly unwanted advances and the fact that they would not take no for an answer. I don’t have to give a reason. I don’t know you and you don’t know me. I don’t trust you or feel comfortable with you being that close to me. Who the hell do you think you are? What gives you the right to claim superiority over another person? Why do you think it is ok to treat women (in this case specifically) like this? ENOUGH! This generation’s gender inequality is destroying the very social fabric that human nature is built on. We simply cannot trust each other when sex or gender claims a sense of entitlement over the other. Where the hell has this come from?
I have never felt uncertain of myself and this experience. Although mild in comparison to some of the horrendous attacks you hear about in the news, it is still an eye opener. Insignificant it may seem to some of you, but unless EVERY situation of daily inequality across both genders is addressed, then attitudes are never going to change. I will not be alone at night again without this horrible niggling fear hanging over me, and I am so angry that these fellow human beings have made me feel like this. I am an incredibly strong person and they broke through that today, and I will never forgive them for it. I am also now left with the horrible sense of guilt as I wonder where the men went after this incident. Have they harmed someone else who was perhaps more vulnerable?
Regardless of any bracket you fit yourself into in life, please respect your fellow human and do not allow people to feel the anger/shame/fear that I have just had to endure, whether you are directly involved or not.
Absolutely no one should have to endure abuse, harassment or sexual prejudice from ANY other person. Do not stand for it! I urge each and every person who has experienced this sort of problem to come forward. Do not stand for it! These predators should not be allowed the upper hand and that is only going to happen if we can change attitudes.