you don’t have to be raped to be violated.
I started writing this a very long time ago, in light of the rape at Occupy Glasgow. The words could never properly form themselves, until now. I wanted to write about how rape and sexual assault are seen as such heavy crimes, but that many people seem not to notice how deep sexual oppression runs, and how every woman, everywhere, has been sexually assaulted.
Being a girl is not easy. Being a woman is even harder. Many people feel that feminism isn’t particularly necessary, I know people who feel that women have achieved all of their goals- I mean, they don’t HAVE to have kids and they CAN get a job and THEY CAN EVEN VOTE, right?
Some of the biggest struggles that women face aren’t even recognised as a struggle. Almost every day I feel invaded so deeply, so personally that I feel my autonomy is taken away, that I do not have agency over my body and even more perversely, over my thoughts.
It is difficult to deal with things as minor as walking down the street or walking through a pub. Some men feel that (somehow) they have the right to possess your body, to grope it. It’s the most common of occurrences to be stood in a bar and someone will grab your arse/tits, run his hand down your back, attempt to kiss you etcetc, and it is an upsetting experience. In isolation, the experience is dismissable, but when this happens every day it grinds you down. It is someone else saying “I can take possession of your body”. It is the direct and immediate objectification of your being. This is a struggle so fundamental to contemporary feminism, and yet it so often goes unrecognised.
Some times, people even like to make out like it’s your fault that you have been objectified. Your skirt is too short, your cleavage is on display, you’re pretty. In essence, they’re saying “How dare you be there, with your vagina and tits and not fuck me?”
So then, how is this not oppressive? And these are just the small, seemingly insignificant events in your life. Unfortunately many women have this assumed possession taken one step futher- the women who are treated as sex toys, as objects of pure gratification and sometimes the targets of self-congratulatory violence. They are raped and sexually assaulted, they are locked into abusive relationships, they are told how they should look, what they should say and where they should go. But they are not the only victims.
When men take sexual ownership of your body they are invading your most private of your self- your sexuality. They are exercising power for the sake of power. You are seen as nothing more than a conquest to your oppressor- and is that not a problem? The beeping of a car horn, the slap of an arse, the “can I get you a drink?” they only differ from much more serious crimes in a matter of degree- the core issue remains the same. It is about power, it is about ownership, it is most importantly about removing autonomy. So, the next time someone gropes you in a bar, remember you are your own person, and the only person who owns your body is you and they do not have a right to invade that space. You don’t have to be raped to be sexually violated. Basically, you should tell them to take a running jump.
ps- on reflection this post seems a little bit minimising of rape, it definitely is not. I hope nobody sees it that way, and that I’m just paranoid.