I picked this up from Facebook this morning and followed the blog link, it’s a really interesting article about sexual harassment and some close encounters. Elizabeth is brave sharing her own experiences and it made me think of mine.
I’m five years younger that she is, and the world was a different place. Getting groped was something that happened frequently. However, I do appreciate that I was lucky and nothing really bad ever happened to me but I heard and saw things,
My first experience was when I was seven. My brother and I were coming home from the shops when the driver of a lorry stopped us. “Would you like a lift?” We said yes, because it was exciting. He told us to get into the back. The back was open and it held old clothes and rags, we sat right at the edge with our legs dangling out. We told him where we lived and he took us home. It was really good fun and when we told Mum, she absolutely hit the roof. We couldn’t understand why she was so angry at us. It put the fear of God in us and we never did anything like that again.
It was not uncommon for a car to slow down and ask if you want to a lift. That happened on many occasions and of course, I said no and ran.
One day coming home from a night club on the bus, a Pakistani man got on, and despite the bus being almost empty, he came to sit next to me. I was suddenly aware how he was pushing himself against me. I moved up nearer the window, but his leg was still very close to mine. Uncomfortably close. He then started to slide it under mine. To this day I don’t know what he thought he was doing. When it was obvious this was not my imagination, I abruptly stood up and in a loud voice said, “Excuse me.” He scrambled himself back and I went to sit on another seat.
At school, girls were telling me there was a series of attacks where they lived. A group of lads would form a circle round a women and force their hand down their pants to have a grope. The thing that struck me most of all is the way I was told. Almost like it was normal, acceptable.
The grabbing of a breast, or a hand on the bum was expected, not liked, but it happened a lot in the 70s when I grew up. We now know much worse went on and even someone close to me said her headteacher regularly sat her on his knee and bounced her up and down for being a good girl.
It’s still incredible to me that these things went on, Read Elizabeth’s well written article here.