In wake of the #metoo movement, I’d like to lay down some ground rules and advice on interacting with women. Think of this as a little present in the form of a road-map made especially for you, crafted by your very own friendly neighbourhood feminist.
Listen up, because it turns out that rapists aren’t a big hit with the ladies.
1. Do not touch me.
Do not touch me, for any reason unless you have my explicit, vocalised permission to do so (medical professionals etc). If you touch me, I will interpret this as a sexual advance. There is no reason why you would ever need to touch a woman you encounter or work with in your day-to-day life. If you are CPR-trained, you legally have the assumed-consent of an unconscious person to perform this procedure on them.
Otherwise, do not touch my hair, arm, face, butt, shoulders, neck, breasts, or hips. If you are a close friend or family member, this does not necessarily mean I want to be hugged or kissed by you. If you are unsure, it is best to wait until I initiate this. If I don’t initiate, keep your distance. If you do not want to be touched, I will grant you this same respect.
2. Don’t assume.
If I consent to be your girlfriend, this does not mean I have consented to you owning me or my body. If I want to go on a date with you, that does not mean I want to kiss you. If I want to kiss you, that does not mean I want your dirty fingers pushing their way inside me when I’m not even wet (ugh), and so forth.
Please don’t ever assume anything.
Always ask, “Can I … “, “Is it okay if I…” or “I want to…” It saves you from accidentally assaulting me, and plus it makes great dirty talk! If you refuse to communicate, you are not mature enough to be having sex.
3. Do not harass me in public.
Do not try to pick me up in a public place. I am not looking for sex whilst I am grocery shopping, on the train, at the gym, waiting for a bus, trying to do my job, getting a new passport, at a work conference or walking my dog.
If I invite you via Facebook, along with a hundred others, to volunteer your time campaigning for marriage equality or supporting new refugees to Australia at a large event I’m running, that does not mean I want to have sex with you.
When has a girl ever responded positively to you honking your horn or yelling “get your tits out!” from a car window? Never. Please don’t do it, it makes me feel unsafe, embarrassed and uncomfortable.
LISTEN: Is the free to be app helpful or fear mongering?
4. Don’t ridicule women for not wanting sex.
Please, for the love of god, do not ridicule queer women and their appearance for the simple crime of not wanting to have sex with you and not dressing to please you. Actually, don’t ridicule any women for this, full stop
5. Do not victim blame.
If you hear a woman telling her story of sexual assault or harassment, please do not automatically think they are lying or try to tell them what their own experiences are.
Also, please do not lecture or advise women on how best to fight harassment e.g. critiquing them for “asking for it” or “not sticking up for themselves enough.” Your energy would be much better spent calling out your male friends on bad behaviour than trying to control the shape that contemporary feminism takes. This is something we need you to support but never lead.
What I’m saying may seem glaringly obvious to some (if that’s you, refer to Rule 5, specifically the point how to spend your energy). However, I’ve spelt out these basic social niceties because every single one of them have been broken by men I have encountered in my life, who have felt that this is an acceptable way to routinely behave and treat me.
Happy non-harmfully interacting with women!
You can read more by Jacqueline Jamieson at her blog, Imagine No Countries.