Hands grab. Switch...flick?

28 July 2016

This was my moment, back in 2013.


What? Hiya, hello? Who? Huh...?

'Oh yeah! Slut shorts, love it!' 

Are they talking to – or rather, yelling at – at me!? Surely not. I'm scared to look. Suddenly I can't turn around. Are they gone yet?

'Mate, green light! Go! Turn it up...'

I was taking a photo of the latest joke scrawled on the blackboard in a local cafe window. It was one a customer had sent in via Twitter, and it was hilarious. A nosy pepper gets jalapeño business! Ingenious. So imagine my surprise when I hear those green man bleeps sounding at the end of the road, then car engines slow down and pull up, and then...shouts.

It's 27 degrees. This is a pretty built up area of the tiny city. I'm wearing denim shorts. I debated it for 11 minutes this morning before I left my house, I even consulted my least horrid house mate and even she nodded her reluctant approval. Going bare-legged was a big deal, and I was braving it. I couldn't not.
Slut shorts?! What did that mean? I vaguely recall some of my friends at Reading Festival shouting it at crowds of young girls as they passed through our camping section – but that was at 4am when we were quite deaf from the music that night and had been drinking out of a bucket for the past hour or so. Nobody was responsible for what they said. Although that's what I'd said when I told that guy I loved him on one of those nights...and didn't hear it back.

I finally turn and see a red Corsa with the windows rolled right down and boys – not men, boys, my age so technically men but no, yucky immature boys – leering out the windows at me. Me. Of all people. I search the street without daring to turn my head too much, looking for their real target. It can't be me. The boys in the snap back caps and mirrored sunglasses are addressing someone, anyone, else.
I ignored it.
The lights changed.
They were gone.
I heard their laughter drive away. 

Later that same day, I'm on the train. I'm hot, sweating into my seat. My new necklace, the silver (coloured) Deathly Hallows symbol on a chain, is starting to smell and leave marks where it sits on my skin. I shift it around to avoid spots emerging where it normally falls.
'Aww mate, she has a Harry Potter necklace. I think I love her, I do.'
'Ha, you love a geeky girl, mate.'
'Do not. She's hot, too.'
'No tits, though.'
'We just can't see 'em.'
It's happening. It's happening again. Thank goodness Bournemouth is close.
I was visiting my best friend in his lovely seaside home, staying with him and his family for a night. The perfect place to spend this sunny day, this summer's eve. I stood up as I saw the tall, pretty, brick walls of the station approaching. I hadn't found the source of the voices, yet. But when I settled into the queue for the doors, which began not far from the middle of the carriage as it was so so busy; when I reached out and stabilised myself against a free seat to my left, I felt something coming from behind me. On my bare shoulders. A wet breath, and...a hand. On me. On my...there. On my shorts. Against the denim. Feeling me. On my arse. My actual arse.
Slut shorts.
Of course I cried, then. Of course I turned ever so slightly in a pathetic attempt to dislodge the hand, the touch. My face was burning on the air conditioned train. I went to hold up a hand of my own and say something. Something, anything. Nothing. It didn't happen. I just cried. When I dared lock eyes with him, he was grinning. It was sickening.

I got off the train and immediately saw a female attendant on the platform. Female. She'd get it. She'd see. A male might not. Awful thought, but...I can't take the chance. Can't give a man a chance. Women get it more, and so they get you.
'I got touched.'
'Honey, who?'
'Him—' I point, she squeezes my shoulder and sets off in impatient pursuit. I walk out the other way, I don't see if she catches him or says anything. I like to think she did.
But he might not have listened, if she did. He might have shrugged it off. He might have grabbed some other girl right away. Who knows. Who.
Same with the cat callers. Those boys. They got away, they don't see their wrongs. They carry on. They shouldn't. But they do. When will it stop?

This was my moment. I wrote an angry Facebook status and from then on I swore I'd always speak up and not let shit fly. 


Hey, Holly, this was when I decided not to flick a switch. I wish I'd had Lottie, back then. I'm so happy we all have her now. 
People, find & buy & read What's A Girl Gotta Do? - it's important. 

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