I’m studying gender at the moment.
Forgive me for what is to come.
Look away if you can’t stomach an opinion piece.
Lots of my writing is about dating or music, traveling to new places or my studies but the undercurrent is that I’m looking for something. I’m not sure whether it’s love exactly. I think joy, equality, compassion and kindness are closer.
As alluded to in previous posts, I was sexually assaulted quite recently; I chose to write about an old assault over detailing what’s still close to the bone, what I’m still blaming myself for, despite all logic and support.
The main reason I feel so ashamed and responsible is that since reaching puberty I’ve been assaulted to varying degrees more times than I can count on one hand. On each continent I’ve lived, I’ve been groped, flashed, raped or abused.
It must be me, right? No one woman has that much bad luck. I’m making own my luck, surely?
Unlike previous incidents of awfulness I’m talking about this awfulness with most of my friends and former lovers as a way to begin to exorcise the experience.
I’m not there yet.
What strikes me though, is that almost every single woman I discuss my rotten luck with has been unlucky too. It’s an awful LOT of bad luck. An awful LOT of rape.
I’m developing a reputation at my college for being the outspoken vegetarian, feminist, guardian reading, blah blah, you get the picture and my female sociology tutor made the unfortunate error of defining feminists as anti-men, as well as providing the insight that gender equality is pretty much ‘there’.
Quietly, I’ve been discussing this idea that we’re ‘there’, with women in my class. Several women told me that their boyfriends were angry or being difficult around the fact that they were taking a course in the first place.
Other women talked about the terrible reaction their husbands would have if asked to leave work to collect their sick child from nursery or to share household chores.
One woman explained that she married at 18, her husband 15 years her senior, treats her like an unruly daughter and is frequently abusive and controlling. She’s attempted to leave him several times and feels that if she can gain a nursing qualification that she might finally be free.
My college is in London. It is 2011. We are not ‘there’.