*Trigger warning* Involves discussion of sexual and physical violence.
I tend to avoid too much personal stuff on my blog. I'm not a particularly closed off person but sometimes being an author can feel like too much of you is on the line. You're vulnerable in a way and there are days when I just want to be anonymous.
Much like in my day to day life really. I hope you're aware of the #YesAllWomen hashtag that started on Twitter and has gained much momentum. We're talking about violence and sexual abuse towards women. I've written about it in several books--particularly in a time when women were barely considered people.
But it didn't believe I'd drawn on any personal experience. And I consider myself a fairly open person. I didn't understand how misogynistic our culture is until a few years ago and I learned all I can, starting with the Slut Walk movement. I'm attempting to teach my daughters about our culture and what it's like to grow up in it. But never did I realise that I had suffered any of this. I was aware of the catcalls and the way I'd been treated in clubs growing up. I was aware I'm scared when I walk past a large group of men. I dread someone talking to me. I long to be anonymous at least four times a day. My daily walk takes me past a pub and a building site.
And as I was discussing violence against women and the shocking statistics with my husband, I thought myself lucky that I had never experienced anything like that--a shameful thought in the first place. Why should I feel lucky not to have suffered from it? Being free from violence shouldn't be a privilege. But snippets came back to me--snippets that I had forgotten about because it was expected. Teenage boys grabbing my breasts. One particular teenage boy very roughly grabbing my sex and refusing to be pushed off. Forced kisses, coaxed sex.
I had been so brainwashed by society that this is what I should expect that I had completely forgotten all about it. I remember the times as a grown up when a man made me uncomfortable because I had educated myself but I failed to recall any of this until I thought hard. My parents will be horrified to read this but to my mind, this was a typical teenage girls' life so I never told them.
And I know full well the majority of my friends experienced the same. As the generation that is now raising children, it's no wonder society has reached such a point.
All I can say is I'm glad I've woken up to this and am grateful for the friends I have who have the same understanding. I will continue to educate my daughters. Boys don't have to be boys.
Check out this collection of posts on Michaela Miles' blog if you want a better understanding of the #YesAllWomen movement.