Me too... my take on it....
When I was about 8, an old man flashed at me and my younger male cousin in the park: the man had his penis in his hand and was playing with it. Then he asked us "do you want to see more?"
Ashamed and confused, I had to sit through two interviews with the police, not knowing what I'd done wrong, but feeling scared by the interaction with authority and the serious faces all around me.
Driving with my Dad in the car, he would openly lech at women and sometimes even honk at them as we drove past - with me sitting in the car next to him !!!
As soon as I hit puberty, I would get wolf-whistles, horn honks and lewd or demeaning sexual comments shouted at me from builders, groups of men and cars passing by - not occasionally, but almost daily. This included as I walked to school in my uniform.
I felt belittled, ashamed and afraid and couldn't wait to get away.
On the bus going to school, men would sit next to or opposite me openly staring at pictures of women's tits on page 3 of The Sun and I would blush furiously and wish the ground would swallow me up.
Inter-railing aged 18 with my best friend, we were flashed at 3x (men getting out their penises and showing them to us and/or masturbating in front of us), wolf-whistled, groped, honked at innumerable times.
Working in London as a a Uni student in the summer hols, three men ran up behind me one night when I was walking home and one of them attempted to put his hand up my vagina. (I was still a virgin at this point).
On a ski-ing trip with my first husband, another man in our group tried to rape me one night.
At work as a successful strategic development executive, I called my boss out for watching porn in the office on his computer. He and the managing director called me into an office, told me I was "intransigent" and threatened to sack me if I told anybody.
Travelling alone through Burma, a young monk in Bagan touched me up from behind as I descended a staircase inside the temple he curated and then locked me into the dark space with him. There was nobody else around. I was terrified, but found my power and loudly proclaimed his shame and insisted he release me. Luckily, he undid the padlock and let me go. Some days later, I heard that a foreign woman had been murdered in the area.
The other day while I was paying for something at Sainsburys the male check-out clerk was oggling my nipples and grinning salaciously. I felt violated.
When I walk home late at night from the tube, the only thing I am occasionally afraid of is a man coming up and sexually assaulting me.
Even now, when I am out and about and see a large group pf men convened together, I sometimes notice myself tighten up inside and feel fear and embarrassment as I am about to walk past them.
Pretty much every woman I know has been sexually harassed in some way.
My 14-year old daughter was recently called a "flatty" at school by the boys, because she doesn't have developed breasts. This kind of sexualised comment is very common. The young boys at her school feel they have the right to pass judgement and comment on the girls' bodies. This is a one-way dynamic. Girls do not comment on boys penis size or other sexual characteristic.
Holding women's groups and working with women around sexuality for years, it is typical that around one third of the women in any given group say they have been sexually abused by men.
In my training as a facilitator of Sexual Awakening for Women by the much-respected late Shakti Malan, a whole module of the course was about "Feeling Safe to be Sexual", and this module included learning and practising self-defence because so many of us and those we were to hold space for had been violated.
So, in my understanding, there is a long-standing history of the pervasive (sexual) abuse of women, which is part and parcel of the wider phenomenon of the oppression and denigration of the Divine Feminine, that is so culturally engrained many are blind to it - especially those who have traditionally been in positions of power and/or perpetration.
In my opinion, this phenomenon is supported by sexualised advertising, pop videos and pornography, as well as the failure by men and women - parents, teachers, educators - to actively speak up against it and insist on change - both within themselves, as well as around them.
This does not make me a victim and I am not blaming or hating men. I have done much deep process, healing and forgiveness around my history and have many beautiful, conscious men in my life.
I also do not wish to minimise the reality of sexual abuse between other gender binaries, be that woman to man, man to man or woman to woman .
BUT, if we are talking about sexual abuse and harassment, which this post is about, then I think it is very important for everyone to acknowledge that historically this has predominantly been a man versus woman thing. And a power over thing: physically and sexually.
Why? Because this helps us to understand and bring compassion to the pain, fear, distortion, disempowerment and separation this has caused - and continues to cause - for many.
Because we may then begin to see that this dynamic is one and the same with the brutal violence being perpetrated all around the world against other human beings - in war and conflict, as well as against animals and mother nature.
And because if we really allow ourselves to feel the enormity of it - as well as wake up and become aware of the ways in which it is still continuing and supported by the matrix we live in, then we can begin to take action to create a world in which we ALL feel safe and honoured.
How about if every man put his hands on his heart and sex and said to every woman he knows:
"I am so very sorry for any and all sexual abuse and harassment you have ever suffered at the hands of myself or one of my brothers. And i take responsibility from now on to creating a world in which you and your children feel safe, as well as to calling out anyone whose actions I consider to be perpetuating that abusive and disrespectful paradigm. It ends here and now. It ends with me."
And how about if every woman put her hands on her heart and sex and said to every man she knows:
"My body and my sexuality are sacred. I honour and love this body, which is perfect and beautiful exactly as it is. I take responsibility for clearly stating my boundaries to you and to co-creating a world with you in which I and all my children feel safe, as well as to calling out anyone whose actions I consider to be perpetuating that abusive and disrespectful paradigm. It ends here and now. It ends with me."
You could even perform this as a healing ritual for yourself, with your own inner masculine and feminine, speaking both parts to yourself, bringing healing and integration within.
It really is time for us all to become fully conscious of the degree to which gender, power and sexuality have intersected for so very long, in order to maintain control in the hands of a privileged few. Acknowledging what has been, feeling it and - when we are ready - asking and granting forgiveness - is key to our way forward into a world of greater harmony and peace.
If this piece has moved you and you wish to discuss a one-to-one session or enquire about my workshop on masculine/feminine dynamics and the sexual shadow, then please get in touch.