I can’t sleep. It’s late and my sheets beckon but I can’t go to bed until I write this down.
Sometime in the late 80’s, when I was about 10 or 11, I walked down the street from my place to visit my grandma who lived a block away. White printed top with blue flowers dotting it all over; that’s what I was wearing- yes, I remember the exact colour.
A pair of men on a moped sped past me and one of them turned his head to look at me. The moped then slowed down and waited for me to pass by. Picking up speed, they zoomed in close to my side and the pillion rider reached out and slapped me on the chest. Laughing like hyenas, they then sped away.
For a few moments, I stood there frozen, not knowing what to say or do. Then came the tears, fast and furious as I looked down at my body and wondered what I’d done to deserve that. Crossing my arms over my chest, I walked briskly and wiped my tears before entering my grandmother’s home.
The ordeal lasted 30 seconds but the memory has stayed for 30 years. This wasn’t the worst of what I’ve experienced either.
Should I speak of the many times I tried to board a bus but balked at the idea of how crowded it was? Or perhaps the idea of standing on a stuffy train as strange men brushed up against me with a snigger and a ‘sorry’ that was clearly meant to make eye contact?
And it gets worse but I cannot speak of it here, not in this space. For I don’t think the world is ready to hear what a woman must endure each day from the moment she steps into this world.
Friends have confided in me, each with stories startlingly similar to mine. In every story is the pain of objectification, that very act of being made to feel less than human, as if we were mannequins on display in a store window, to be ogled at, drooled over and fondled.
A woman is not an object for you to grab, bang or use. Nor is she a thing to be groped, molested or assaulted.
It was late this morning that I managed to listen to the now infamous Trump tapes. As most of you must know already, he’s been nothing short of despicable, disgusting and vile in his comments about women.
Here’s the thing: I don’t get to vote in the American election, so this isn’t a political statement. But, it is a personal one. Mr. Trump, I don’t understand how you became the Republican presidential nominee. I will never be able to fathom the absolute frenzy that sweeps your supporters when you stand there spewing unintelligible gibberish. It’s practically beyond me to gauge how you are still standing with any sense of decency left in your body.
Hear this: You don’t deserve to win.
You don’t get to decide which part of a woman’s anatomy is available. You don’t grab a woman by any part of her body. Ever. You don’t brush your deplorable behaviour under the carpet with the words ‘a mere distraction.’ A dog chasing a squirrel is an example of a distraction, Donald, just in case you were wondering what the word meant.
You don’t get to lord it over the rest of the world because you are ‘famous’, a ‘celebrity’ and ‘popular’; all of those words appear to have lost meaning now that they came out of your mouth.
No woman in her right mind will ever accept your ‘apology’ after what you said. No man will allow his daughter, wife or mother come anywhere near you. No sane human will be glad to be seen in the same room as you.
My skin crawls with pure disgust as I write this piece. It’s as if every memory of every man who ever molested me has surfaced and is striking at the fabric of my self-esteem. It’s men like you who make it difficult for us women to walk the streets, either at night or in broad daylight. It’s words like yours which will embolden perverts to step out and do as they will with women.
I hope the world comes to its senses and realises that you are a mistake of gargantuan proportions. I pray that more voices add themselves to mine and will say ‘NO’ to a man who does not think women are worthy of respect.