Written by Mickey Noonan

Voices

We need to talk about… calling it out

As part of our series on sexual violence, editor Mickey Noonan waives her anonymity and calls time on the silence around sexual assault.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

On Friday night some shitbiscuit on a dancefloor felt me up in a way that would have been gynaecological if it wasn’t for my pants.

He goosed me so hard up the leg of my shorts that it felt like he’d fingered me. It was fucking awful. And I’m pretty staunch.

I swung round and tore him a new one… and the people I was with (a group I’ve never been out with before) told me I needed to calm down. Seriously. I’m not supposed to cause a fuss for fear of killing the evening’s party vibe.

One of the group actually asked me, “Do you not like that attention?” No. No, I obviously do not like that. It’s a revolting little power play that has no place in today’s world.

Fuck. That. Shit.

Safely home, showered and curled in my bed, I could still feel his fingers. As far as sexual assault’s concerned, what happened is at the lower end of the scale, but no less a violation. And of course it’s not the first time it’s happened to me. Not by a long chalk. And I’ve endured much worse.

As a kid, as a teenager, and throughout my adult life, I’ve been sexually touched and forced to touch without my consent, before I even knew what consent was, before I found a voice to say no, before I found the confidence to shout NO in a stranger’s face.

To reiterate: Fuck. That. Shit.

“The bloated satsuma fart about to become leader of the free world, who takes umbrage with being named ‘person’ rather than ‘man’ of the year, has said it’s OK. It’s OK, guys! Grab a woman by the pussy. They love it!”

I took to Facebook in rage. It might be an echo chamber, but the fury on my behalf that exploded out of my friends – women and men – was unsurprising. They were the backup that had been missing at the time, and they virtually held my hand afterwards, god love every one of them.

But something else was unsurprising, too – depressingly so. For my female pals commenting, what had happened was a familiar scenario. It had happened to them. Of course it had.

Some had stayed silent, because it’s terrifying to face up to someone bigger and stronger than you (I always fancied myself handy in a fight, until I was set upon by six blokes and a woman and I simply curled into a foetal position while they kicked the shit out of me). Some had recently discovered the right and just rage that comes with these situations and were liberated by it.

Together they told me: Fuck. That. Shit.

And then there were a couple of comments from male friends. Good blokes with hearts in the right place. “We’re not like this. We have daughters we’re worried about.” Sure, #notallmen, and of course you must worry for your daughters, I get that. But telling a woman who’s been assaulted that it wouldn’t ever be you doing it means Buckley’s. At best it just makes you feel better; at worst, it changes the conversation to be about you rather than what happened.

Also, biological impossibility notwithstanding, I don’t give a rat’s scrotum whether the prick who molested me and the boatload of fellow douchebags he sailed with have ever been related to a woman in their life. A woman’s agency doesn’t come from her connection with any man. She’s not someone’s daughter, mother, grandma, sister, niece, aunt, wife, girlfriend – she’s someone, full stop.

I often get asked how men can be feminists, how they can help. It’s pretty easy. Step up. Step in. Call sexism out. I’m not saying you need to learn how to deliver an effective throat punch, but take it seriously, say something, film it, report it.

Same goes for women. We’ve never needed people to come together and call it out more.

“One of the group actually asked me, ‘Do you not like that attention?’ No. No, I obviously do not like that.”

The bloated satsuma fart about to become leader of the free world, who takes umbrage with being named ‘person’ rather than ‘man’ of the year, has said it’s OK. It’s OK, guys! Grab a woman by the pussy. They love it! Chicks can’t get enough of misogynistic culture, it’s a regular wide on for them!

I cannot say this enough: Fuck. That. Shit.

It’s not enough just to not do it. It’s not enough to teach our kids just to not do it. Silence perpetuates this type of sexual violence. Standing by feeling smug that you’d never do anything so heinous yourself is the same as watching it happen, shrugging then walking away. If you’re worried about causing a fuss, you’re part of the problem.

Something else happened on Friday night. A chap in the group I was out with doesn’t like my swearing. He decided to tick me off for using what he terms ‘industrial language’, which, he informed me, is not ‘ladylike’. I informed him his main mistake was thinking I give a monkey’s what he deems ‘ladylike’ and that no man gets to police the way I talk. Ever. And yes, he was the one who thought I might see being groped as some sort of compliment.

Fuck this male entitlement. Fuck it really hard in the arse without consent. Say it with me: Fuck. That. Shit.

@MicksterNoonan

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Written by Mickey Noonan

Aged five, Mickey Noonan shoved an apple pip up her nose to see what happened. Older, wiser but sadly without a nose-tree, Standard Issue's editor remains curious about the world. Likes running, jumping and static trapeze.

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