Some time ago, Adam at amodelofcontrol.com got in touch with me as a few recent experiences and conversations had made him realise how little he’d known of the harassment many of his fellow female music fans experienced for the crime of Being Women In Public Spaces. He asked if I would help gather stories from my blog followers to help him write a piece aimed at encouraging other men to understand the scale of the problem, and think about what men can do to help change the culture.
I leaped at the opportunity to help women’s voices be heard – as a former singer in a metal band (yes, the “rockstar” is the one out of four that I managed to achieve, albeit briefly) I’ve faced my (un)fair share of harassment both as a performer and a gig/club goer, and have also experienced the downright soul destroying experience of trying to talk about it only to be shut down; told I am over-reacting, exaggerating, complaining about nothing, not being flattered enough and all the other sorts of things women get told when we talk about the crap that happens to us, apparently because some men can’t treat women as humans deserving of either respect or bodily autonomy.
So we put the call out. More than 100 women responded, and some of the stories were harrowing, to put it mildly. I was at one point concerned for Adam’s mental health as I was pretty sure he wasn’t prepared for how awful some of the stories were. Trooper that he is, he read very single one, got very angry and the blog piece grew.
Head on over to amodelofcontrol.com to read the blog, and a list of many of the stories shared with us – but please do be warned that some of the stories may be triggering for PSTD sufferers and/or victims of sexual assault. Both Adam and I offer huge and heartfelt thanks to all the women who took part and shared their stories.
One: The main blog, and stories of women’s experiences at gigs
Two: Stories of women’s experiences at clubs
Three: Stories of women’s experiences as performers
Someone I am in an online community came up with this phrase: Creepiness Intensifies. It perfectly expressed a situation that so many of us have experienced in our lives.
It’s when you’re just, you know, going about your normal life and then someone (usually, but I guess not necessarily, a bloke) makes things weird by getting overly personal or unexpectedly sexual.
For example, the last time I ever used Uber:
The driver started asking me personal questions about my love life and then asked did I still “give my ex some sugar”
and then would I give HIM some sugar ho ho only joking I have daughters
and then wanted to know why I was going to my destination, how long I would be there and would I be alone
I lied, saying that there’d be loads of people there, ran out of the car as soon as I got there, uninstalled Uber and never used it again.
I have so many similar stories, where a conversation with a stranger has gone down like this, going from ok to odd to creepy to WHY WOULD YOU SAY THIS WHAT THE FUCK to getting my keys in my fist and my phone ready to call the police in the space of a few sentences. I figured other people would too, so I put the call out to see if my hunch was correct. The very first reply was “how much time do you have?”
Here are some of the stories.
Many thanks to “Ms Andry” for this week’s guest blog! As you may have guessed from the title, this blog contains adult content.
I’m tied so tight that my movements are completely restricted. The more I move, the tighter the ropes gets. I am gagged and blindfolded; my senses are completely focused on sound, smell and touch. I’m red from spanking I’ve been punished (for occasional mistakes, back chatting, and to heighten the pleasure of what is to come). I’ve also been instructed that I’m not allowed to orgasm yet, but the pleasure is intense. I’m completely exhausted. But the feelings I am currently experiencing are exquisite and the orgasm I’m about to have will inevitably be glorious.
Submission has been discussed much more widely in the last few years since being popularised in erotic novels. These novels have precipitated a new wave of traditionally “vanilla” couples taking spanking and restraints into the bedroom to “spice up their love life”. But submission is prone to a bad reputation – how can letting yourself be completely dominated, allowing another person to tell you what to do, and allowing physical punishment be a feminist act? The question that frequently gets raised is, “How can being submissive align with feminist ideals?”
Like many others in the last few weeks I have been unable to get the Brock Turner/Stanford rape case out of my mind.
There is so much to say about this case, and much of it has been said in the media and across the internet – which is notable in of itself. For a rape case to be discussed so widely in the media, with the widespread and dominant opinion being that the sentence was too short and that the attacker has got away too lightly, heralds a huge shift in public thinking about rape, sexual assault and victim blaming.
As “Tea Consent” goes viral again, with its clear message of “unconscious people cannot consent”, and as a former heavy drinker who started writing a blog specifically to deal with my attempt to give up drinking, and as someone who passed out drunk and woke up to discover someone performing a sexual act on me, I have a few things to say about this case myself.
When the Rogue One trailer hit, my little geek community group was absolutely buzzing. We picked over the trailer looking for clues, obsessed over the odd word and phrase and shot – what does it MEAN? We generally flailed with excitement, trusting the franchise again for the first time since 1999 (and the least said about that the better.) We wondered who Jyn was, what she’d be. And everyone in my little geek bubble was thrilled about the whole thing. Then someone said “I wonder how long before the douchebros of the internet complain that evil feminazis are ruining Star Wars with their matriarchal agenda by making ANOTHER film about a WOMAN.”
As it turned out, about 5 minutes.
Last March, shortly before 2015’s Sexual Violence Awareness month, I published “Consent: not actually that complicated” – now simply known as “Tea Consent” – on my blog. I had no idea, when I clicked the “publish” button, that I had just written something that would travel around the world, be animated, be read and watched tens of millions of times and become the basis for syllabi for consent and awareness courses in countries on every continent. It seems so unlikely that I am pretty sure it still hasn’t quite sunk in, even a year later.
One criticism often levelled at “Tea Consent” is its limitation to reach the people that really need to understand the message – ergo rapists. “What’s the point of this video? Rapists don’t care” goes the argument, and “no silly cartoon about tea is going to actually make an actual rapist actually not rape” or “anyone that understands this already knows rape is wrong”.
My intention with my blog today was to re-post my spoiler free review of the Red Dwarf screening I went to on Friday, written for Ganymede & Titan; because going to see Red Dwarf filmed live is something I have wanted to do since I was <ahem> years old in 1988 and first saw it and because you must never underestimate my laziness. Why write a thing on Sunday I’ve already written a thing on Saturday.
But then I went to have my last swim at the ladies pond in Hampstead for many months, as it closes today for renovations to be carried out to the changing room, decking and lifeguard room, and there were so many resultant FEELS that I had to get it out of my head. That’s why I write, usually. To get the feels and the nagging voices out of my head.
CW: sexual harassment/assault
A few weeks ago, just before Christmas, I was in a queue waiting to pay for some food I’d just ordered to eat on the train home after my evening class. I was listening to music playing as I often do. I have BIG OBVIOUS headphones, in part to discourage people making conversation with me. A man’s face appeared right next to my face, too sudden, too close. It made me jump a little. I leaned back, pushing one earphone back as I realised he was talking to me. “Sorry darling can I just push in? My train is in five minutes”. “So’s mine…” I started to say. The rest of the sentence would have been “…and I have already ordered, so you’d need to check with the person behind me” but went unsaid. As I started to speak, this man, this stranger who had already inserted himself into my personal space and called me “darling”, placed his hand on my hip. It was the hand I couldn’t see, placed around the other side of my body, effectively holding me in a light embrace, trapping me between his arm and the counter. It was a gentle touch, not particularly forceful, and it seemed entirely thoughtless, careless, casual; I was a woman, he was patting me on the hip. Just so.
Cycle commuting in the UK at the moment is very much a male dominated mode of transport. This is often used as an argument as to why more money shouldn’t be spent on it – suddenly commentators who’ve never given even half a fuck about women and minorities decide they care when it comes to spending money on cycling – which is a really idiotic argument that ignores the fact that where you DO spend money on cycling, suddenly people who aren’t white, male young and fit join in. Hence why the Netherlands actually has more women making journeys by bike than men. A better argument would be quite the other way around- that if you have a mode of transport that only white young fit men use regularly, then there’s a big problem for access to that mode of transport that we need to fix. I mean, if only white young fit men were able to safely use buses we wouldn’t be saying BAN BUSES we’d be saying “how can we make buses safer so that everyone can use them?”
Halloween has been and gone, and with it, the annual discussion over inappropriate costuming. Each year, the discussion gets a little louder, a little clearer. Each year the people going “this is not ok” grow in number, and the angry people who want to wear whatever they like get a little more angry and defensive.