Reaching the age of adulthood and heading off to university presented itself with new challenges - managing my own money, leaving home for the first time, embarking on studying a degree. But, also with handling misogynistic culture and sexual harassment.
On Friday, I went on a night out with a friend after having to pull two all nighters and after the stress of coursework deadlines and exams - a night out to unwind for a bit before being thrown back into the full throttle of exam season was much needed.
We set off to the bar in town before heading to the club, and on the way out as we excitedly danced out of the bar, some douche thought it was a great idea to slap my arse and jeer at me as if I was a stripper. Great, just what I needed to start off my night and reminded me exactly why I stopped going out for the past few months. Before anyone asks what I was wearing, for the victim blamers and as irrelevant as it is - I was sober and wearing a peplum top and a knee length pencil skirt. So no, I wasn't 'asking for it'.
I was obviously caught off guard and in shock, so my response was to give him a weirded out, unimpressed look, ignore it and carry on with my night. After a period of reflection, I won't lie I regretted not doing anything more and slightly felt like a hypocrite. Why didn't I pick up his drink and pour it over him? Why didn't I shout abuse at him how it's not okay to a misogynistic pig?
Then, I sat and thought about it more and realised how much young women aren't really taught how to deal with sexual harassment. At school, we only had one lesson in PSHE in Year 11 where we were taught vaguely about rape and it wasn't even taught in a serious matter. It was more lightheartedly taught. We were taught to not wear anything provocative and that would seem we were asking for it, and how to literally slither out and play it off if we were in a uncomfortable situation with a guy. Nothing about what to do when you are constantly getting sexually harassed, that you had to figure out for yourself.
We all hate it, yet we all feel it's just something that's part of the package of going out. I don't get why you have to accumulate the energy to fight off men - every single time you go out. Like many women, I've come out to let my hair down and unwind with some good music with some friends after a stressful week, not to fend off men from grabbing me non consensually and unwillingly being treated like a piece of meat.
This is not even to say all men are like this in the club, so saying it's just "men being men" is a completely invalid statement. There are some decent ones who aren't ruining the experience for everyone else by jamming out with us, having fun, starting dance battles and making friends when bonding over singing along to the same song - you know not being utter creeps, actually being decent, normal human beings?
From having discussions with my friends, I've realised a lot of us as young women experience this - sharing the same feeling of disgust and feeling like a cow going into a cattle market. And the same feeling of never being taught how to deal with it, or even anything taught to the men being perverts to stop being perpetrators of sexual harassment. From the influx of readily available porn on the internet (30% of internet traffic is generated by porn sites) and the sexualisation of females in the media from music videos, magazines, television, etc. it drives the ideology that it is more than acceptable to behave like that objectifying women is absolutely normal - apparently we are here at your disposal.
How are we supposed to progress in feminism when we are letting men treat women as unequals by objectifying them because we aren't even teaching girls how to rightfully stand up for themselves in these situations and we aren't teaching boys it is not okay to think that sexualisation culture of women is the right and normal way you should treat women? It all starts from where you are taught, and if schools aren't going to highlight it as a very significant issue, then how do we expect to tackle it with today's generation and beyond?