What I’m really thinking: the sexual harassment target

To all the ass-grabbers, the boob-grazers, the ones who undress me with their eyes: I hate you.

I hate you for what you have forced me to become. I am now the woman who wears flat shoes on a night out, in case she has to run. I am now the woman who carries an umbrella in case she has to defend herself. I am now the woman who puts her keys around her knuckles in case she has to punch someone as she jogs home at night.

I hate you for touching my boobs in Centra as I was reaching for the ginger nut biscuits. I hate you for jokingly telling me your friend would rape me. I hate you for following me into a toilet and trying to force yourself on me and making me hope that other would hear my screams over the music. I hate you for leering at me in my sundress and making me want to cover up. I hate you for trying to lure me into your office in the empty foyer of my student residence. I hate you for all the sexual innuendos you said to our science class that we were all too young to understand. But most of all I hate you for what I have been forced to become. I hate you for stealing my innocence.

I hate that you are the unprosecuted minority. I hate that instead of being asked what my attacked looked like, I’m asked what I wearing.  I hate you for your misogynistic remarks, for your kitchen jokes, for your anti-feminist comments, and for turning some of my friends into people like you.

Most importantly I pity you. I pity you because it’s pathetic how little you understand. I do not get dressed in the morning hoping to be shouted at about how my arse looks while I’m on the way to college. I do not seek and I do not need your degrading remarks to validate me. These are not compliments. I do not want you to comment on my appearance. How I look does not concern you. In fact I don’t care what you think. My day would carry on so much better if you kept your mouth shut and your hands to yourself.

So before you act this way next time – think about your mother, your sister, your aunts, nieces, daughters, granddaughters. This happens to them all the time. They have been victim to this abusive, degrading, terrifying behaviour. And they will continue to, until people like you stop.

So please: stop.

Illustration: Mariam Ahmad