TW: Sexual harassment. Also, if you’re reading this Dad, sorry.
I’d like to start by telling you a story. It’s a story that I’d wager the vast majority of women can empathise with on some level because I don’t know a single woman that doesn’t have a similar tale to tell. It’s a hot and humid day in mid-August 2008. You can see the heat in the air. Even the insects seem a little lethargic and surprised by it. I fan myself with my Oyster Card wallet . There are beads of sweat on my forehead, my hair is scraped up in a ponytail to keep it off my shoulders. My make up has completely melted. I’m wearing flipflops, shorts and a vest top, purely for practical reasons. It’s really bloody hot. There is a fair amount of flesh on show but I’m not an idiot, I had a wide rimmed hat and my SPF 50+ to protect me! No sunburn for me, no ma’am! By this point I’d been waiting for the bus in a suburb of London for about 20 minutes. There was no shade to speak of and I was getting pretty annoyed. I got my phone and impatiently check the time. Just as I looked down I heard a car door to the left of me. Looking up, I see a boy roughly my own age (16) or possibly a little older. “Alright sexy, you’re fuckin’ hot” he leers. I give him a look of absolute disgust. “Yes I know that – it’s 38 degrees” I reply, feeling pretty smug at my own witticism. His top lip curls. “Are you stupid?” he asks. “I mean I wanna fuck you.” I laugh in his face. Thankfully at that moment my bus appeared. I boarded with him shouting after me that I was a slut, a whore, a sket.
When I got home, I told a friend of mine about it. “Oh don’t make such a fuss, it’s a compliment!” she told me. “And besides, you’re not exactly wearing very much are you?” No. It is not a compliment. It’s sexual harassment. To this day, I am grateful that the bus came when it did because I don’t know how much the situation would have escalated. A lot of women are not as lucky as I was. Let’s not pretend that what happened to me was a compliment – that what women have to endure on a daily basis from total strangers on the street is a compliment. It’s not a compliment. It is inexcusable. It need to stop.
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