Over a year ago I shared one of the most traumatic experiences I had in my life over at huffpost, I spoke up about the night when I was raped. This wasn't the only time in my life I was harassed or sexually assaulted, far from it. My beautiful soul friend Anne Ferguson from the Centered Mama Project posted an excerpt of a book: “I draw a line down the middle of a chalkboard, sketching a male symbol on one side and a female symbol on the other. Then I ask just the men: What steps do you guys take, on a daily basis, to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? At first there is a kind of awkward silence as the men try to figure out if they've been asked a trick question. The silence gives way to a smattering of nervous laughter. Occasionally, a young a guy will raise his hand and say, 'I stay out of prison.' This is typically followed by another moment of laughter, before someone finally raises his hand and soberly states, 'Nothing. I don't think about it. 'Then I ask women the same question. What steps do you take on a daily basis to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? Women throughout the audience immediately start raising their hands. As the men sit in stunned silence, the women recount safety precautions they take as part of their daily routine. Here are some of their answers: Hold my keys as a potential weapon. Look in the back seat of the car before getting in. Carry a cell phone. Don't go jogging at night. Lock all the windows when I sleep, even on hot summer nights. Be careful not to drink too much. Don't put my drink down and come back to it; make sure I see it being poured. Own a big dog. Carry Mace or pepper spray. Have an unlisted phone number. Have a man's voice on my answering machine. Park in well-lit areas. Don't use parking garages. Don't get on elevators with only one man, or with a group of men. Vary my route home from work. Watch what I wear. Don't use highway rest areas. Use a home alarm system. Don't wear headphones when jogging. Avoid forests or wooded areas, even in the daytime. Don't take a first-floor apartment. Go out in groups. Own a firearm. Meet men on first dates in public places. Make sure to have a car or cab fare. Don't make eye contact with men on the street. Make assertive eye contact with men on the street.”― Jackson Katz, The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help This made me think about all the things I do automatically to protect myself. I carry my keys sticking out between my fingers when I walk alone. I park in well lit areas. I don't wear both earbuds when I'm walking, even at daylight. I avoid riding an elevator with only one man or a group of men. I watch what I wear. I avoid eye contact with men. I don't take man up on their offers of help. I try to see my drinks been poured. I don't dance freely when there are men around.
The list goes on and on. And I'm so glad this is coming into the awareness of the general public more and more. I know that there are not only women out there who have gone through a traumatic sexual experience, many people have and it needs to stop. We need to teach our children about consent and remove the guild and the shame from the victims and instead show the people who assault that they need to take responsibility for their words and actions.
And when I look at this I see my part in this. Not only as passive listener, not saying something or looking the other way, but also as active participant, flirting aggressively, touching others without asking if they want to be touched, waiting for the guy I wanted to be wasted enough to come with me. So not only #metoo, but also #Ihave, #itwasme. And I know better now.
Please speak up, stand up, get help to deal with your trauma, heal the wounds and know that you are not alone. Far from that. Sexuality, sex, finding somebody attractive is nothing to be ashamed about. Not respecting someone else's boundaries, taking it just because you can, shaming or blaming someone because what they do/ wear or say "made you do it" - I call bullshit. It's enough.
Love. Respect. Compassion. Kindness. Communication. Everyday interaction as well as sexual interaction based on these principles is wonderful and what I wish to see. And so I start. With me. Sending you Love&Light, Annika x