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.