Monday, 24 November 2014

Just saying...

This is not a blog about running.

I will not be posting a link on my Facebook page.

It is just something I need to get off my chest.

Today, at work I spoke with a student about how no one should make her feel uncomfortable and outlined the steps she should take, given that someone she worked with was repeatedly sending her unwanted text messages.

I spoke to the whole group (boys and girls) about what it meant to respect oneself and to stand up to sexist/racist/homophobic behaviour.

I patted myself on the back as I drove home.  I told myself I was making a difference.  I was helping the next generation become stronger, helping them to realise that belittling women was wrong.  I was feeling smug.

A few hours later I was at the pub.  It was one of those 'class parents get together' type events where you are supposed to be on best behaviour while enjoying indifferent food and overpriced alcohol.  And to add to the fun a 'sporting activity' (well, okay - skittles) was added to the mix.

It was all going well until my second attempt at knocking down the skittles.  As I bent over to pick up the balls one of the dads groped my arse.  It wasn't accidental.  I was horrified, I was mortified.  I said and did nothing.  I was embarrassed.  I watched him for the rest of the evening.  His wife was in the same room.  I wasn't the sole recipient of his attentions.  I couldn't believe that I was the only person who had noticed his behaviour.

I started to listen to my inner monologue.  'I can't say anything because his wife is so lovely and she'd be horrified.'  'I wouldn't have been upset if it had been X as we always have  a bit of risqué banter going on.'  'Oh, heavens - he's just smacked her bum as well - how is no one else noticing?'

How damning is it that a loud mouthed woman in her mid forties does not feel comfortable about saying stop to a man who doesn't respect boundaries?   How unacceptable would a man's behaviour have to be for me (or one of the other women there this evening) to have turned around and asked him to stop?

What hope is there for teenagers who are only just coming to terms with their own identities?

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