Me too. Me too. Me too. No matter how many times I say it, it won’t be anywhere near enough.
Strangers on the street, boyfriends, acquaintances at parties, “friendly” uncles, neighbours- the reality that our bodies belong to everyone but ourselves is one that women realize rather early into their lives.
The first time I got an inkling of this was when I was about 10. Walking into my housing complex after school became a nightmare, thanks to a guard who insisted on grinning at me in a way that made my skin crawl and following me to my building.
I was 14 when a stranger walked into a space that I considered home and groped me- it was then I knew that as a woman, there is no such thing as a “safe space”.
I was 15 when a stranger groped me outside school, and smiled at me while he walked away and I stood there stunned.
At 21, I left home for the first time. At one of my initial internships, I was warned of certain men in the office. “Don’t get too friendly”, I was told. When I asked why these men still worked here, I was told they were “too senior” and “well respected”.
At 21, I knew that a man I thought I was in love with, who I had trusted could call me a whore for putting on makeup, for having the audacity to make friends, for simply having an opinion. “When did you become such a f****** b***?” he screamed in public, when I asked him why he was an hour and a half late for a lunch date.
At 24, I knew that men didn’t think your “no” really meant “no”, because you’re a cool girl who isn’t looking for anything serious, right? But hey, they’re in good company, since our judiciary too thinks a “feeble no” may mean “yes”.
At 25, I am tired. But I take comfort in the fact that over 12 million women worldwide have opened up about what they’ve been through. I take comfort in the fact that men are finally, hopefully, feeling profoundly uncomfortable- because it’s about damn time.
Shamolie is a foodie and a feminist who finally worked up the courage to start writing! Through her blog, she hopes to make people question beliefs they’ve long taken for granted, and view the world from a different perspective. She blogs at https://bicyclewithoutafish.wordpress.com/