before #metoo

Yes, it’s happened to #metoo

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.

Me at 13 years old with my baby brother. The catcalls were just beginning and parents and relatives began telling me what to wear, otherwise I’d just be asking for it.

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.

#METOO

© 2017 Melinda J. Irvine


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Comments

4 comments on “Yes, it’s happened to #metoo”
  1. jodie-ann Nunn says:

    Proud of you GF. #me too. From under the age of 7 it started, too young to remember some of it….When my mother married a 21 yr old at 42 and I was 16 it was asking for trouble, numerous times the harassment and attempted rape occurred, while my mother was pregnant to him, Date raped by the local bar tender at the golden sands who was helped by people that you thought were your friends, who also allowed the whole football team have fun with you while you were slipping in and out of consciousness and were helpless to their antics. , . Continued through my life, and i developed a Protection of Fat to keep them away …. maybe my logic was if i was ugly they wouldn’t want to come near me … WOW did i actually write that ? …. Guess its time to address the …lol…. Back to counselling…. see what their behaviour does to us it is so wrong. Thankful there are some good men out there to look to, to give us hope they are not all like that.
    Mothers take note raise your Boys to respectful Citizens in our community and Pray for those with poor skills to learn better ones.

    1. Melinda J. Irvine says:

      Jodie, thank you so much for sharing that today. I feel so honoured and privileged that you had the confidence to write this here on my blog.

      I completely understand about the protective layer. You know when I left my husband at 22 (that’s a whole extra story that I’m not ready to share yet) I gained 4 stone in just four months. When I reached a certain size the harassment abated. My breasts were so large that they still drew attention but baggy t-shirts got around that a bit.

      The Golden Sands Hotel, I walked past just yesterday (the tavern that is) and cringed. Just cringed. We grew up in a town where the town heroes were the worst perpetrators and if you dared to speak up you were run out of town by lies, victimisation and gossip.

      I suspected troubles in your youth but had no idea the magnitude. More credit to you for surviving. Forgive yourself for gaining the weight, you needed to do it to survive. No one can take the truth of who you are inside the real you.

      I just posted some photos of me on the blog and FB in the last few days. This was actually my way of saying ‘this is me’ I can be me and look like me. I’m still feeling a bit afraid of it.

      I was feeling horrible all week, I wanted to post everything but when it came time to write, it became too much.

      You are such an inspiration with all that’s happened to you Jodie because you just keep giving back and giving back and helping others.

      All my love.

      Mel xx

  2. You think that feminism has taken us so far, but it’s an illusion. We’ll never be equal until there are no more “me, too” experiences.

    1. Melinda J. Irvine says:

      I absolutely agree, and realise that I need do my bit by speaking up, I guess that what really drives social change.

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