Trigger warning: Mention of sexual abuse and sexism.
I wasn’t going to post this, I was going to keep my feministic thoughts to myself and I would post other things. My friends would be my outlet for my feminism. But last week something happened to me, something not so major, it hasn’t left scars or anything but it made me think about how normal things like that are becoming and how abnormal that is.
Here is what happened: Lien and I were going out and because it was a slow night in the centre, we decided to take a stroll through the park. While we were sitting on a bench, taking silly pictures, drinking some beer and listening to music, two guys (or more boys) walked up to us.
One of them clearly didn’t feel like doing whatever his friend was up to, he seemed to be almost embarrassed for him. They both spoke French and sadly enough my French isn’t good and at that moment even awful (especially in a situation where you don’t really feel safe, languages you don’t master, tend to leave you entirely!) so I understood what he was saying but I couldn’t respond.
Things started innocently enough (though never entirely), he asked if he could take a sip from our beer and asked if we spoke French. When we choose to ignore him, he whipped his penis out. Without any reason, just like that. I didn’t understand everything he said but it was clear what he wanted…
He reacted with total indifference to the aggression this arose in Lien, or to the threats I made (calling the police if he and his friend didn’t leave). He even ignored his friend who all but begged him to just go.
Nothing happened further. I put the police on speed dial and walked away, together with Lien. But my heart was racing and I felt the fight or flight reaction pulsing through my body, I knew that if he attacked Lien, I would protect her with all my might, just as she would if it was the other way around. Though I knew the chances of this really happening were slim, I still thought of it: “Where to hit him, where to run to …”
When I look back on this, I know two things: One, we were lucky, shit like this happens daily and could end quite a lot worse. I’m seriously not sure if I would rather be murdered or raped! And I’m not a person who scares easily, I still walk around Gent at night, no worries on my mind, I’m still a bit of an adrenaline seeker, but this has reminded me how fortunate I am for getting through life without ever experiencing serious sexual abuse!
Two, I’m so sick and tired of hearing: yeah, stupid girls, who walks around in a park in the middle of the night?! ME! I DO! WHY? Because I WANT TO! Dammit, I could walk butt naked through that park and still this gives you no right to abuse me in any way!
I see this more and more: “Parents need to teach their daughters how to be safe” F#@! THAT, no! Parents need to teach their boys that no means no! And when she can’t say no, that’s a no too! And when she’s crying, that’s a no too! You know what? Everything except a solid “YES” is a no!
All in all it’s a minor thing that has happened to us, no-one got hurt; we got home safe. But I shouldn’t have to worry about things like that! I shouldn’t have to look over my shoulder at night! A boy shouldn’t think that two girls alone are an easy target. Sure he can try to flirt a bit, but when she turns you down, stop!
And I could rant forever about this, because this isn’t the first time something like this happened, in fact worse has happened to me. It won’t be the last time either. But this is just another proof that our society is quite a bit f#@%ed up, quite a bit broken.