Twelve years old. Maybe thirteen. Long, long time ago anyhow and the memory isn’t quite what it was. My school was a comprehensive school on a council estate, just outside of Croydon. Sounds pretty forbidding, but the reality was it felt ok. No worse than other state schools in the area, and I am pretty sure there weren’t any league tables for academic achievement. I think we’d have been of similar stature as Crystal Palace in Premier League terms….
Anyway, twelve, thirteen years of age, hormones raging, acne and armpits, when something came to our attention. Yes, girls started to change too. Not for them the awkwardness, the smell, the fluctuating voice, and, yes let’s face it, a semi permanent state of arousal. They were glorious, confident and curvy. Ok they probably felt as gauche as we did, but they looked… more interesting. So how did we respond to this excitement? Pulling pigtails evolved into pinging bra straps. Vague, casual contact, exciting and illicit. Everyone was doing it, so it must be ok right?
No. It bloody isn’t.
It was appalling. It was the law of the jungle, only one where the animals wore green jumpers, three button trousers and green and silver ties.
Innocent girls were subjected to sexual harassment and assault on a regular basis. I feel nauseous reflecting on this. What gave us the right to strut around like rampant, foul smelling baboons? Our gender. Our utter lack of sensitivity to fellow young people growing up alongside us. Who knows what damage we did? For every teenage girl laughing it off as high jinks, there may have been one crying in the tiny toilet cubicles. Who knows? I am ashamed that I witnessed this and said nothing. I laughed heartily alongside the rest of the troop.
So what about those who knew what was happening in Hollywood? The predator/producers allegedly up to terrible things, far beyond what even a teenage boy can imagine, and that doesn’t leave much. Control and power wielded over hopeful young women. I hope they are ashamed that they witnessed this and said nothing. Just howling along with the other primates. Speak up. Now. Please do not remain in the background saying nothing. That is tacit approval. Not as bad as the predators themselves, but not by much.
To all my female friends, acquaintances and relatives, I am so so sorry. I feel a great shame.
And shame on those too scared to stand up for decency.
‘Me too’ – brilliant that women are standing up and highlighting just what a bunch of shits men can be. Stand by them, support them. We all have the right to go about our business, professional or otherwise, unmolested. Gender shouldn’t come into it.
Please please forgive us, and forgive the howler monkeys who brayed from the wings.