I’m angry. I’ve been angry for sixteen years, probably even longer, but today I’m particularly angry. Irate. Furious. Fucked off.
I’m thinking of the hundreds of times my Nana warned me to stay with the girls, stick together, don’t go off on your own, as I was heading out the door for a night out. I was warned. I was told. So there was no point in running crying to her if some fella got a hold of me which, predictably, one did.
I say “predictably” because I had the audacity to walk home, alone, with a boy – was he a man at that point? Legally, yes, but I still think of him as a typical, opportunistic boy who had a drunk sixteen year old to himself in the early hours of a summer morning and fancied his chances. See? I still blame myself, after all these years, after all the therapy and writing and researching. I victim blame, and I’m the victim. It was put in front of him on a plate, I served myself up: what was he meant to do?
I’d made the ultimate mistake: I had expected this manboy not to rape me. How stupid was I? God, I was asking for it. And that skirt! I’m lucky he didn’t kill me! Lying there, half conscious in the wet grass: sure he could have easily shut me up, forever.
And years later, when I agreed to visit an old flame, wasn’t it obvious I wanted sex? No, I can’t, no, tears, motionless – sure that really means, convince me, I’m playing the submissive card today, no really means yes, baby.
Over the years, I’ve put myself in many dangerous situations, luckily, I haven’t been murdered. I’ve had a couple of sexual experiences where I wasn’t ready or comfortable with going ahead but after an initial rebuff and cool off, the testosterone won the battle, I gave up and thought it was easier and less confrontational to lie back and think of the moment I’d be alone, away from these hands and this mouth and these words of persuasion. I guess I’ve gone along with it because I think I owe the guy sex: I went home with him; I invited him round; I called to his house. Of course I was gagging for it! I made my bed…
And yet, I am filled with a raging injustice when I read the “advice” coming from another woman to stick together on nights out, to be wary that a temporary “lapse in judgement” could result in a terrible outcome such as we have witnessed unfolding in Glasgow with the heartbreaking discovery of Karen Buckley’s body. I don’t know all the facts, I guess the media will thrash them all out for us as they did with Elaine O’Hara and Jill Meagher. Every detail of the woman’s private life will become fodder for public consumption and yet we’ll know very little about her killer even if it turns out there had been police concerns, convictions, complaints or exes with worrying stories about his behaviour prior to the final hours of Karen Buckley’s life. Karen Buckley did nothing “wrong”; she owed nothing to anybody. She was entitled to go where she liked with whomever she liked and not tell anybody if she didn’t feel like it. Her killer was not entitled to kill her.
The rational bit of my brain tells me what happened to me was not my fault. And yet, slutshaming is so ingrained in our culture that I think of myself as damaged goods and I let my rapist off the hook. I defend him, still. I make excuses for other men who were aware that I was an unwilling participant but continued, sometimes forcefully and sometimes manipulatively. The only thing I’m guilty of is not reporting what happened to me in order to prevent any possibility of him doing it again. But I know I’ll never name names because I’m too scared of being blamed. So I stay silent and become part of the problem.
So girls, it is with regret that I advise you all to stick together: handcuff yourselves together on nights out; at school; especially out running; at home (you’re driving those poor men mad); in your cars; at college; definitely at work; on the bus, those poor make public transport users trying not rape you, how long do you expect them to keep their hands to themselves? Go everywhere together and tell a huge group of people in a group chat your every move. Your privacy and agency is nothing. It’ll be your own fault if you end up raped or dead.
Oh and men – don’t rape, and don’t kill. But if you do, she was asking for it, right?