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Growing Up A Female & The Threat Of Male Violence.

This past week we have all been focused on the disappearance and alleged murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard from south London, this case is nothing but a reminder and confirmation to most women as to why we do not feel safe in certain situations. The threat of male violence has been real for many of us especially those who have had past experiences of being violated by the opposite sex.

Every year into womanhood I learn more about what it means to inhabit a female form, how society views me and the male gaze which has shined upon me since early puberty. I can recall all those times that men would honk, stare and pull over on the side of the road as I walked to school in my uniform, I attended a school where all girls had to wear kilts, no exceptions.

"Entitlement to my body and some men who act like I owe my body to them, my body is not yours to take I owe you nothing."

This early experience makes me realise why my mother instilled into me and my older sister that if a stranger tried to touch you or take you to kick them in the private balls as hard as possible and then run. My form tutor telling all the girls in my class to put our keys in between our knuckles if we were walking alone in the dark. Since I was about 15 up till now 10 years into my adult womanhood. I have come face to face in situations where men have felt an entitlement to my body, some men I have met feeling like my body is owed to them, if it’s not lewd remarks or trying to force themselves on me it would be in subtler ways like spiking my drinking in a club when I was 23 and on a girls night out.

You really don’t pre-empt these things until they happen to you. I was lucky that night because I continue to surround myself with real friends, women who would never leave a friend on their own in a vulnerable situation. I remember not wanting to drink afterwards for weeks and researching as much as I could about drink drug tests. I will always watch someone pour my drink from now on. After watching the series I May Destroy You last summer on BBC Three I felt rattled. Spoiler alert she has her drink spiked in the first episode and is violently raped in the club toilets, it took weeks for her to gain her memory back and remember her attacker. I’ve often thought of this type of date rape as cowardice and malevolent, it reeks of entitlement to a body that has not consented, it’s sneaky sly and boldly immoral

"Learning and growing from an early age into womanhood, being sexualised and understanding that some men will always view me as nothing more than a sexual commodity."

Situations like this have done nothing but anger me more, why are women not allowed full agency of their bodies? Why must some men feel that they are entitled to take from us when we say NO!

Let me just stop and say before I carry on that I am not writing this to bash the whole of the male species, but there are always a few rotten apples in a bunch. Sarah’s murder allegedly at the hands of suspect Wayne Couzens has caused a reaction from those across the capital which has been felt around the nation, men and women are stepping up in protest to enforce change, women shouldn’t have to constantly protect themselves whilst men make no changes at all, women should always feel safe!

For the past few years into my adult womanhood, I have come face to face in situations where I have felt that men were behaving like they were entitled to my body, this has done nothing but anger me more, why are women not allowed full agency of their bodies, why must some men feel that they are entitled to take from us when we say NO! We have all been taught from a young age to protect ourselves from possible attacks by the opposite sex.

It is the lack of care that irritates me, some men don’t care when they sexually or physically overstep the mark and make women feel violated. As a woman, I have always felt like we should be able to dress how we want without being accused of asking for it.

I think the way we raise our sons and brothers needs to be examined. I have been thinking about how damaging some genres of pornography are, they often portray women practically getting abused in violent scenes. With porn being so accessible nowadays young adult men watching could be influenced and sexually stimulated to act out what they see, abusive porn does not help female representation. It only helps perpetuate sexual violence as socially acceptable lastly no you can't spit in my mouth. I've never claimed the title of feminist I'm just a major advocate for women's rights, rant over you can call me a bitch now.

Written by,

Ebun Felicity Hargrave


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