(Trigger warning: Mention of Sexual Assault)
(Before you read it, we would like to tell you that the author acknowledges that sexual assault is a crime committed also on men and that women can also be perpetrators, not only victims. Looking on statistics, however, the difference between assaulted women and men is as follows: 3.4 million females to 631,000 males (2017, in England & Wales). That is why (besides her personal observations) the author focused on women’s issue, as they experience greater danger. We know and respect that not every man is a titled ‘strong man’.)
By Zuzanna Romanska
I didn’t think much about being a woman for a long time. In school, I was taught that girls are more obedient, that they should play in the house, have good grades and dream about a prince and rings on their fingers. (Then rings around their necks…)
That was the image of a woman I was introduced to.
Because men are the strong ones, the vital ones. Men will take care of me, protect me, (speak for me…)
Recently, all these strong men do is make me fearful.
When you’re a strong man you don’t worry if someone walks behind you on your way home.
When you’re a strong man your heart doesn’t jump when you hear a noise in the hallway or see a shadow through your window.
When you’re a strong man you’re not just body parts, pretty eyes and a sweet smile.
When you’re a strong man you’re not scared of dark streets and nights out.
When you’re a strong man you’re not deprived of your equality, pride and thoughts.
When you’re a strong man you have a voice.
I’ve never been so uneasy about being a woman like I am now, working in a place where every strong man feels at home. In a pub everything becomes clear. Their perspective on women becomes stupidly obvious.
I experienced verbal abuse when I was considered stupid, unqualified to pour a pint and a ‘pretty face only’ while doing my job.
I took every look, every glance, every teeth-showing, which made me feel like a walking piece of meat.
I became aware that people I am working with are not hired because of qualifications or ambitions, but because they are, or they are not, ‘smoking hot’.
I got the idea that if you are polite, or if you smile, it means they are allowed to treat you like a prize to win.
I also understood that women don’t see it as a problem. They see it as the state of things. As the state to get used to.
Used to hear I would like to spread gravy all over your body from the chef they work with.
Used to being called princess, beautiful, flirty or silly by a strong man who will kiss his wife and kids with the same mouth those words came from.
Used to walking quicker, almost running home on a Saturday night after work, squeezing keys in their hands until they leave red marks.
Used to hearing that they provoke with their smiles and clothes. That it’s their fault. They wanted it. They just didn’t know how to ask.
Now I am thinking about being a woman every day. About how hard it is for everyone who is not a strong man. About how much more careful, wise and scared I have to be to feel safe.
85 000 women in the UK become victims of sexual assault every year. Only 15% of them report it to the police.
85% of them are silenced. The strong men took care of them. (Data used above was found at rapecrisis.org.uk)
We are here for you. Get in touch with Mandala Project here at DMU or call the security (0116 2577642) if you feel in any danger.