I remember the first time a man “grabbed me by the pussy”. I was at the Easter Show with my girlfriends. We went one afternoon straight from school, taking a spare change of clothes and stuffing our uniforms in our bags. We felt so grown up. Giddy with independence.
I was 13-years-old.
I didn’t notice him until it was too late. His hand grabbed me forcefully as he walked past. And he kept walking, disappearing into the crowd.
The shock hit me instantly and confusion was right behind it. What just happened? I felt sick. I knew it hadn’t been an accident. This was different to someone rubbing up against you on public transport when you find yourself second-guessing the sick feeling in your gut.
What he had done was obvious. And I felt dirty and small and vulnerable. And suddenly, I didn’t want to be independent. Suddenly the thought of being young and out in the world on my own, with my friends, felt frightening and like something I maybe couldn’t handle.
So that was my first experience of being sexually harassed or assaulted in public.
Back then – in the 80s – there wasn’t a name for what happened. Maybe groping. That’s the word being used by so many in the media to describe Donald Trump’s casual conversation about ‘not even waiting’ for permission to kiss women who he finds “beautiful”. To “grab them by the pussy”. That’s not called groping anymore.
That’s called sexual assault.
Donald Trump excuses it as ‘locker room talk’ and insists it was a long time ago. Yeah it was. He’d been married for three months and his new (third) wife was pregnant.
Not that it matters when it was said or to whom. There is no context in which these comments are excusable or justifiable.
We knew that Trump had the lowest, leering regard for women. We’ve known it again and again with every disgusting, sexist comment he’s made not just for years and decades but throughout this campaign.
These latest grotesque comments will resonate with women because tragically, there are few of us who cannot tell a story of being sexually harassed or assaulted.
Do you remember the first time it happened to you? Or the most recent time?
Share it. Because what Trump describes is not just fun banter between blokes. Real men, good men, don’t talk about women like that in public or in private.
Let’s put some stories and some words around the statistics so that the world can understand the real world consequences of that kind of “lighthearted conversation” about assaulting women.