This post discusses sexual abuse and may be triggering for some readers.
“Jiggle, jiggle, her butt cheeks jiggle,” a young boy sang out from under the bridge I was running across.
He would have been about 10 I reckon. Suntanned, carefree and dripping with cool water.
It could have been that he was just loudly singing some lyrics from a rap song I’m too old to know. But I really felt that he meant for me to hear it.
Watch: Women And Violence: The Hidden Numbers. Post continues below.
In my head, I spun around, hung over the railing and called back to him and his friends in a firm voice. “It’s not okay to shout at women like trolls under a bridge! Please learn some respect”.
In reality, I just kept running. I didn’t want to make a scene. He’s harmless, I told myself, and it’s true that my butt does jiggle when I run. Maybe he was just making an observation?
I tried to pass it off as young kids making silly jokes and told myself to stop being so offended. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that this wasn’t just about my jiggly butt.
It took me 6km to put my finger on what troubled me so much about this interaction.
I was chilled by how easily he was able to objectify me, sexualise me even, at such a young age.
I realised that this kid with his mates on a Sunday afternoon down at the river - this is the breeding ground of gendered violence.
By calling out to me he was testing the waters on what’s tolerated and what’s not tolerated in society. And I gave him nothing. No social directive. I sent a message to this kid that he can get away with it.
It sounds like a long bow to draw.
A kid rhyming about how a butt looks in bike pants and gendered violence.