Sex education in school is, in my opinion, remarkably lacking. We are taught how not to get pregnant, we are taught how to avoid diseases, and we are taught about the biological way our bodies react to sexual stimulation. That’s fine. What we are not taught is “no”, or the pleasure and pain.
My little girl has been brought into a world which, despite it’s huge steps towards sexual equality and it’s fights against gender based discrimination, actually still needs to air adverts telling young men not to rape girls at parties. A world where when a celebrity, such as Ched Evans, has sex with a woman so drunk she cannot stand let alone give consent, actually has an army of supporters claiming that his actions were justified. A world where trafficking women and girls is terrifyingly rife. A world where our public figures, respected men in business, politics and media, seem to be falling one by one as women stand up to say they were abused. And a world where so much of our youths sex education comes from increasingly extreme pornography.
What is going on? How is it that almost every woman I speak to about this, myself included, has a story of abuse? Something that has happened to them where a man has in some way taken advantage of them. Whether they have been pressured into doing something they aren’t comfortable with by a partner who wanted to try something he’d wanked to (I raise my hand), been felt up by a stranger in a pub despite efforts to prevent it (I raise my hand), received harassing or sexually intimidating messages from a potential suitor (I raise my hand), or physically assaulted (again, I raise my hand). I am not a rare case. HOW AM I NOT A RARE CASE?
I know, before you comment, that it is not all men. But, despite this, it seems to be all women.
There seems to be an attitude that is far to common in our society that a woman’s body is public property. You want to grab a girl’s ass, why not? I’ll tell you why not, because it’s not your ass. The theory that if you want a girl to want you, and she doesn’t, that she’s in the wrong, despite the fact we all have the right to accept or decline offers as and when we choose.
I would like to say that even for someone who has experienced it more than many that the incidents are themselves rare. Spaced out massively by interaction with men who are not like that. But it’s not. Just the night I met my now boyfriend, whilst I was dancing with a friend, a random man repeatedly blew on my neck, pulled me to him, and when I wiggled to try and get away held on tighter and ran his hands over my body. I, as is my way, laughed it off and got away when the opportunity presented itself and then avoided him. But why should I be put in a position which I have to “get away” from. Why should that man have felt it was his right to try and force me into an intimate situation which I did not want to be in, why should my body be touched without my consent or desire? And this is the least offensive type of harassment a woman is likely to experience and it is not even a tiny bit rare.
So, what do we do? We obviously cannot rely on parents to teach their sons this respect because if we could it would be a rare problem. Unfortunately too many men feel this is justified and therefore wouldn’t try and stop their sons from doing it. It is so ingrained in our society that fighting against it doesn’t occur to people. So I believe it should be taught in schools. Don’t just teach men how to protect themselves from diseases and unwanted babies, teach them that women have exactly the same rights as they do, that women’s bodies are worth exactly the same amount as their bodies, and that nobody has the right to make anybody else feel used, abused, violated, intimidated, or like they’re worth no more than a sexual toy. Teach little boys to respect women, and teach little girls they’re worth that respect.
I want my little girl to never experience the things I have. To never feel that anyone has the right to her body except for herself, and that anyone she allows to touch it does so at her discretion. I want Miss Rose never to know the world which we are currently in. To be part of a new generation. A generation where this kind of treatment of women is the rarity not the majority. I want Miss Rose to be safe. I want Miss Rose to be a feminist, surrounded by feminists, and respected for it.
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!