As General Manager of an RSL in western NSW, every Saturday morning I’d come into the venue to run the weekly chook raffle. Using the club microphone and PA system I’d have a usually have a laugh and joke with the all the customers as I drew out the tickets and handed out their prizes.
One morning I called the name of one of the regulars to come and collect his prize. But instead of shaking my hand after I handed him the prize (in full view of the Saturday morning crowd) he grabbed me full on my crotch, groping my genitals and squeezing really hard.
The workmen at the front table fell into hysterics “like that didya love, you liked it didn’t ya? bahahaha” they shrieked with laughter. Others snickered in amusement. Humiliated I packed up the raffle and stalked out of the club. I was 32 years old.
If you’ve tuned into any media at all this past week or so you would know of the millions of women who are finally talking about their belittling, traumatic and painful experiences of sexual harassment and assault. Sadly I also am one of those women. I wish that the text in italics above was the only #metoo experience I have had in my life, but I have had hundreds.
So now it’s time to tell my story, what do I say? Should I tell about the two times I have been sexually assaulted (yes that’s raped in non-legal speak)? Do you want the juicy details? Or would it be better to spew out onto the page detailed lists of disgusting incidents itemised by (1) the genitalia that was groped; or (2) the theme of filthy comment that was made; or (3) those that happened in the workplace; or (4) when I just out doing the grocery shopping or buying milk.
Or perhaps I could sort them by the times they were taken seriously by someone I tried to tell ( like a partner, a parent, my friends, a workmate or employer) and the times they weren’t (“oh he would never do that” “just do your job”). Except that would be just one very long list.
I’ve begun this blog post in my mind a dozen times but now I’m here to write it I feel sick, awkward, afraid, humiliated, embarrassed and just plain tired. Tired of blaming myself and altering my behaviour to stop men harassing me. Even at 49 I still change my behaviour to stop men harassing me.
© 2017 Melinda J. Irvine