When I Was…

Note: I wrote this post way back in April, then never hit publish. I’m not sure why, exactly, but I suppose the subject made me a little unsure. I don’t feel unsure any more, so here it is. Better late than never?

pink roses #wheniwas

How old were you when you first felt like a woman?

Ask around and you stumble across a depressing truth: for many of us, it is the first time we’re exposed to sexually-motivated harassment, discrimination or abuse – often before we’ve even entered adulthood. Feeling the letcherous eyes of builders take in your newly growing tits beneath your baby-fresh face is like a ritual hazing for new initiates to womanhood.

Yesterday a new hashtag started trending on twitter – #WhenIwas. Women worldwide began completing the sentence, primarily with examples of the types of sexual behaviour they were subjected to before they were 18 – and it makes for bleak reading.

Below are my own tiny additions to the twitter-storm.

The sad part is, I felt embarrassed and ashamed – not him. I’d make excuses not to do it, and he’d get pushy and relentless, and I’d give in just to make him go.

I blamed myself. By this point I already knew the line about wearing a short skirt = your own fault by heart.

Tip: Just change one digit so you can repeat it if needed. Tell them it’s turned off, as they sometimes try to call you there & then, to check you didn’t give a fake.

For context, I was a pretty, skinny little teen, and often dressed in skimpy outfits.
That shouldn’t matter because I was clearly a child – but of course, it did.
I’m telling you this after you’ve read the above tweets because they should stand alone. It doesn’t matter how old a woman is or what she is wearing: she has the right to not be touched or made to feel afraid.

graveyard #wheniwas

It’s a shame, really, that nobody ever stopped to question the hyper-sexualised behaviour of a young girl. Every adult or professional I encountered was too busy judging or perving to give it a second thought, so I had to figure out for myself that the wrong sort of attention can be just as bad as none.

There are, of course, many worse stories to be told. Stories that happened within the confines of supposedly loving relationships; stories that are too raw or personal to put in the public domain.

This tweet by my friend Freya from nishaantishu says it all, really.

If you can – if you feel able – use [revive] the hashtag and share your story too. x