I know what can happen to a woman after she’s spiked on a night out

The Telegraph
21 October 2021

“Nothing happened.” Those were the first words I heard when I woke up in a strange bed, with nine hours of memory missing. The last thing I had known, a colleague and I were out for a drink. It was 8pm, still light out, and I remember thinking how great it was that it was early enough to make it to my friend’s house for dinner.

The next thing I knew, it was 5am. I was lying in his bed, with his hand around my wrist, telling me to go back to sleep as he tried to pull me back down. My brain was completely submerged in fog, my head was pounding, and my body was weak. This can’t be happening, I kept thinking, maybe it’s just a nightmare and you should just fall back asleep. But alarm bells in my head kept screaming: get up, find your shoes, find your bag, put your dress back in place, get out now. And that’s what I did. I managed to stumble out of his bed, fold myself into an Uber, and stagger back to my apartment, bursting into uncontrollable sobs, begging my brain to just remember something, anything, so I could attempt to piece together a night stolen from me.

But he hadn’t only stolen my night. He had stolen my mind, my body, and my autonomy. The irony of his words “nothing happened” will never be lost on me. Technically in my mind, absolutely nothing happened for nine hours. But unfortunately for me, that is not the reality.

I knew something bad had happened to me, but was still hesitant to go to the hospital. Rape myths permeated my brain, telling me maybe no one would believe me, or they’d blame me. I immediately feared the dreaded questions of: “Were you drinking?”; “Are you sure you weren’t just drunk?”; “Are you sure you didn’t consent and now just regret it?”

These narratives stem from the rape myths that work to shift blame away from the perpetrator and onto the victim. 

Even during the pandemic, catcalling goes on. I refuse to be treated as an object. 

The Guardian
31 August 2020

To some people, catcalling is a trivial thing – but this interpretation in effect reinforces the “rape myths” deeply entrenched in our society, that blame the victim and exonerate the perpetrator. To ask, for example, what someone was wearing at the time of the incident is as common in cases of rape as in street harassment. It is a response that immediately looks for ways a woman was deserving of her assault. It should not matter what someone is wearing; it’s her body, she can wear whatever she wants. It really is as simple as that.

The link between our wider culture of sexism and the individuals’ violent behaviour is undeniable. A study conducted by a counsellor of male sex offenders found that the popular perception of women as sexual objects or as weak tied in with rapists’ attitudes. Additional studies have found that sexually objectifying a woman can lead to aggression towards women and to reduced moral concern for them. Quite literally, catcalling turns people into objects and can lead to violence.

To then belittle these experiences only perpetuates the problem. It may happen a lot, but this kind of behaviour isn’t “normal”. We are not born treating women’s bodies like objects; this is a learned behaviour. To excuse it as “normal” is upholding rape culture, because it tells us that it’s OK for men to feel entitled to women’s bodies.

So to the men who have the audacity to believe I owe them a “thank you” for harassing me on the street, let me put this clearly: my body is mine and mine alone, and I owe you nothing.

Why Cressida Dick’s ‘Bad Apple’ Argument Upholds Rape Culture

21 June 2021

Britain’s most senior police chief Cressida Dick said last week that there is the occasional “badun” at the Metropolitan police service. Her comments were made during a speech to the Women’s Institute about violence against women and girls.

“I have 44,000 people working in the Met. Sadly, some of them are abused at home, for example, and sadly, on occasion, I have a badun,” Dick said.

Dick made the comments on the same day that one of her own (now former) officer, police constable Wayne Couzens, pleaded guilty to the kidnapping and rape of Sarah Everard and admitted responsibility for her killing. He has not yet been asked to enter a plea to the charge of murder, as the court awaits psychiatric reports that are being compiled before asked for his plea on the charge of murder. Couzens, who served as an armed police officer, pleaded guilty to kidnapping Everard “unlawfully and by force or fraud”.

In the two short sentences alone, she managed to deflect blame, shield herself from responsibility, protect the Met’s reputation, exonerate a rapist and uphold rape culture.

There are so many things fundamentally appalling about these two sentences in Dick’s remarks. Let’s examine three parts of it: The term “baduns”, the inclusion of alleged abuse against officers at home, and the emphasis on how many officers she has under her eye.

Masturbation is a Celebration of Body Autonomy

Je Joue
31 May 2021

So why is female masturbation one of the last remaining sex taboos? The answer might not astound you, but it’ll surely piss you off: The shame and stigma attached to female pleasure grew from patriarchal roots. At its core, masturbation is about body autonomy — something women have been historically deprived of.

Body autonomy is having the exclusive right to your own body. Something we all should naturally have! Unfortunately, that has not been the case, and the fight for real body autonomy continues. 

Our society has historically treated women’s bodies as existing for others, not for themselves. Whether that be for childbearing, for sex, for visual consumption, for homemaking, for caretaking, for male pleasure, the female body was seen as having a purpose for others. Thankfully we have made a lot of progress in exterminating these misogynistic views. But a web of stigmas, taboos, shame, cultural norms, pleasure dynamics and power dynamics still remain.

By consciously or subconsciously viewing women’s bodies as existing for others, women’s bodies are immediately stripped of their own agency. Views on masturbation come from this. For if a woman’s body is not for herself, why would she need to pleasure it? If a woman’s body’s purpose is for others, why would she participate in acts of the self?

Shame and stigma masking female masturbation both stems from, and upholds, the patriarchal belief that women’s bodies are not for themselves. Our society has always told us that there is a stigma around women masturbating, so we internalize that shame and don’t talk about it, leaving the stigma in-tact. We need to shatter this myth once and for all.

Why Women Are Always Blamed For The Violence Men Perpetrate Against Them

22 March 2021

Our society works overtime to exonerate perpetrators of violence against women*, and to shift the blame and responsibility onto the shoulders of women. Even the phrase ‘violence against women’ does this, rather than us saying, for example, ‘end male violence. Our society was built by men, for men. Recognising the impact of this on the elimination of violence against women is crucial. Historically, it was men who wrote the laws around violence against women, who established cultural norms, who determined how to stop it. Societal norms and precedences have included the mass exoneration of perpetrators by creating a culture that looks to blame victims for violence committed against them. We are taught to exonerate the assailant while implicating the victim. Even in the horrific killing of Sarah Everard, what made the headlines is that she did everything “right.” She was the “ideal” victim in the eyes of the public, someone who didn’t “deserve” what happened to her. Sarah wore bright colors. It wasn’t too late, it was 9 PM. She walked on a busy road. She called a friend. She was alert. She did what we have all been told to do to stay safe, and still, she wasn’t safe. And still, people took to the Internet to shift responsibility onto her, to say that she shouldn’t have walked home alone in the evening. 

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