Why women don’t ‘just speak out’

2017-10-15 06:18
Gayle Edmunds

Gayle Edmunds

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I was 19 with a freshly minted driver’s licence and three part-time jobs. One of my bosses asked me for a lift home. No problem. He invited me in for coffee; I accepted. After all, he was old, like, 40.

He made the coffee, then said he’d like to put on something more comfortable (a bit weird, I thought) and returned in his shiny boxer shorts, shirtless, hairy and suddenly dangerous. My internal alarm, which had already begun to ring, made a cacophonous clanging.

I edged closer to the door, downed my scorching hot coffee, made up an excuse and escaped.

When I told a friend and her boyfriend what had happened, she looked horrified, while he laughed it off, saying: “Didn’t you know what ‘come up for coffee’ means?”

Just like that I was shamed for being victimised. I should have known; I shouldn’t have put myself in that position. Just like that – subtle and toxic – the blame was shifted from the predator to the potential prey.

This is the essence of why women don’t “just speak out” about sexual violence. Our communities, our friends, our families and society at large ensure that the power dynamic that made the incident possible remains intact – the power is returned to the predator.

The stories emerging into the sunlight about Harvey Weinstein that were once only whispered in the corridors of his empire are not unique; they are playing out every day in every industry the world over and have always been doing so.

After that nasty incident – which I remember in tortured detail 25 years later – I never returned to that job and my internal alarm system developed a sensitive early warning system. I was lucky, I didn’t need that job to feed my family or myself, or to make sure my long-term career prospects weren’t sabotaged.

Like the blesser who uses his influence to hold sexual power over the vulnerable, Weinstein is a predator. An old man who sleeps with school children is not a blesser, he is a predator and a paedophile. Let’s call it what it is.

Take a long hard look at the predators whose behaviour has been normalised – old men celebrated in tabloids for having sex with women young enough to be their daughters, those that blame a young woman for her mini skirt or where she was when it happened...

Just the other day, I watched a middle-aged man ogle a teenage girl in a school uniform in front of me. Just another predator sizing up his prey.

Read more on:    harvey weinstein  |  sex abuse

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