Me too.

This has been a part of my life unbeknownst to me since the day I started wearing a bra. I’ve expressed my feelings in private conversations, but had always left this many-versioned blog unfinished and as a draft. I had always felt uncomfortable posting or didn’t feel like it was necessary. But after seeing the response of the ‘#metoo’ campaign, well it’s given me the courage to share my experience.

I am so over street sexual harassment.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you are a young woman in 2017 you are unlikely to have walked down the road, exercised publicly, or sat on public transport without at some point having a stranger gawk, leer, mutter to their friend, or the worst, compliment comment you on your smile, breasts or legs.

I get objectified roughly 3 times a week. It’s sadly a routine of mine on the Tube. I and so many others have become accustomed to the creepy stares that make us feel uncomfortable. It can be really daunting to find yourself thrust into a public conversation about your body. Most of the time I can’t face the confrontation and take the easy route out – a few heavy sighs and eye rolls indicating my mini ‘fuck off’ to the man whose invading my peaceful thoughts on the safe journey that I have a right to make, then I bow my head and make a quick exit, only to later regret not standing up for myself. Other times we call them out on their advances, and then after 10 minutes or so of venting to your nearest and dearest about the ogling stranger, move on with our lives.

Get sexually harassed. Rant about it. Get over it. Forget it. Sleep. Repeat.
It’s a never ending cycle.

I’ve made up countless excuses as to why it happens. “It’s because I’m blonde.” or “I’m a confident person.” or “I’m friendly therefore more approachable I guess.” How ridiculous that I’m even trying to condone it, but sadly it seems an honoured tradition that we put up with. I’m one of thousands who are forced to feel aware of their presence and to those who blatantly try to get a reaction after they’ve commented on my body… want me to turn back and flash, or if I’m feeling classy respond with, “Aw thank you, I grew them myself. Here’s my number – I need to hear more…” (Who knows what they want to achieve)… I simply say, cease and desist, or fuck off. Depending on what mood I’m in. Do they honestly expect a shag or a cure for their loneliness with that behaviour?! How can you fall in love with each other when your Prince Charming is publicly leering and shouting as they zoom past you in a white van? Darn, I’ve had so many chances of a fairytale.

I refuse to be intimidated by these men. However, sometimes when I’m feeling pensive or would just rather not with the unwanted attention, and it happens… I keep my eyeline on the floor and feel ugly. (Now why would I show my tits to you if you caused that?)

After seeing the hashtag ‘me too’, it has given me the courage to publicly say, that make no mistake, to those who accost women on the street or in any environment with unwelcome critiques of their body and pestering them to interact with you is sexual harassment. It should not be in our typical day, to be prepared with come-backs and exit strategies. (I genuinely have a tactic when I’m with my friends where I make the most unattractive noise to avert those passersby who are staring inappropriately). It shouldn’t be happening. We should be safe in our personal space wherever we are.

I hope that this will help others to know that they’re not alone and that perhaps some ‘lads’ reading this or to those men on the Tube or when I’m running or walking or hey when I’m just somewhere. Please don’t objectify me.*

Be human and civilised.

*Just to be clear, I don’t think that everyone that drives a white van is a pervert. Also, sometimes a smile or kind gesture is exactly that. I’m talking about where you have to take a moment and close your jaw because you cannot believe how misogynistic people can be – that happens a lot more than we think.

 

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The Quarter-Life Crisis.

What happens when you grow up?

My friends and I, people, colleagues, strangers, children of the 90s are now in that scary ass time when you are officially an adult. Kids born in 1999 are now 18 people. Official.

We’re in our dare I say almost mid twenties. We’ve been to university, we’ve got the degree and we’re now in our first, some second year of that real-adult-actual-career-job. This job provides an annual salary to the betterment of our leisure, or in this day and age, our savings account. Engagement posts be flowin’, wedding invitations are off the chain and multiple shares of ‘top 20 girls who are most likely to be superwoman…’ Y’get it. Our imaginations should be maintained and realistic, and somewhere between the years of being stuck as a teenager and being forced to have your life together appears a smooth transition to adulthood. I mean let’s face it, when we were kids we all had that vision of seeing our 20 something successful self walking down a city street in a Zara fitted two piece with matching briefcase too.
And I can kind of do that life; living back in London, but I’m more than likely heading to my temp job as an office receptionist for a big corporate company in the city to try and make the rent whilst calling myself a Musical Theatre actress. (That’s a different blog in itself lemme tell ya…)

The point is, it’s not as simple as that, and I don’t think there’s enough coverage out there for support. Now some people have succeeded in pursuing that vision. Great. I 100% respect those who at my age have decided that marriage, kids and a mortgage are to their most value. Or wealth – whatever it may be. That’s their life and it’s wonderful to see them so happy. I have no doubt that one day those things will be important to me too. Yet I feel the need to be writing this for those people who have chosen not to go down that route (yet), and who, like myself are still exploring the possibilities and more importantly, the impossible problem of those possibilities. We’re in a rut as our ingrained perception of what we defined success to be, is changing. A choice that others may struggle to digest. But to those people this is to tell you – it’s okay.

I always have people asking me what’s going on with me; what I’m up to with my life. I tell them the truth. Fuck knows. My life is scatty I must confess. It’s the bittersweet reality of my performing industry and being an open minded and free spirited ambivert. The whole palpability of my life tends to baffle some people and don’t get me wrong, I too find it very overwhelming at times. But there’s a huge disparity between the life we would like to lead and the opportunities we actually have to lead it. What happens when you get the opportunity that allows you to do the things you didn’t think possible?

The impossible problem of possibilities.

Our twenties are a time when you’re old enough to make decisions and a time of great discovery, freedom and exhilaration if you can remove the expectations of friends and family, society and yourself, to figure everything out on a non existent certain timeline or according to a specific checklist. It’s taken many slightly offensive comments and sleepless nights for me to chose to embrace each scary uncertainty that comes with my twenties. Don’t try to be perfect and a people pleaser ya’ll. It’s not only exhausting, it’s impossible. Humanitarianism is crucial in this day and age – practice and preach it, but make sure you’re kind to yourself. Your welfare is just as important as the welfare of others.

That’s why the pressure of social media is a recipe for disaster. I understand that all social media platforms can be a legitimate source of communication between people; to keep in touch and to innocently share their successes and sometimes failures (think about what you share to the public domain plzzz)… It focuses on oneself therefore naturally comes with a hint of self-obsession. Yet you have to be aware / beware that it can be torturous. It is comprised of people competing for approval of their glorified selves. Consider the utterly ridiculous phenomenon of people wishing to get recognised by uploading #basicbitch and #likesforlikes. Don’t get me wrong, I am no martyr when it comes to selfies and the odd check in if I’m abroad, but I don’t let it take over my perspective on life.

Remind yourself: the value of life doesn’t just come in forms of money or likes.

I’ve lost patience over scrolling through social media; seeing life lived by others on a screen, rather than living it yourself. I’ve found it is more a process of elimination —absolving yourself — rather than a hunt for the ‘solved’ life. That’s what was so fantastic about living on a boat and travelling the world for six months. You are forced to live presently without the desire to see and compare what other people are up to. ‘FOMO’, (fear of missing out) is nonexistent. Let alone how euphoric it is once you open your mind to different cultures and are captive to the beauty of the planet. (It’s all very cliche for a reason ya’ll). Some experiences can’t be uploaded; isn’t that a wonderful predicament.

So sure, I get anxious as hell about the near future and future beyond that. My prospects and priorities are extremely ambivalent. Something that’s surprisingly new for the usually tenacious me. Fear is always challenging but any challenge is progress. There are lessons that can be learnt in the ‘ah fuck’ moments. The things that don’t go according to plan are often the biggest hidden blessings — sometimes, it just takes time to realise what that goldmine is. That’s what my twenties are and will continue to be about. Living presently. Responding to the things that happen rather than to what hasn’t. It’s out of your control so go with it. It’s all about perspective.

To quote the late David Bowie,  “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”

A little hope perhaps.

I didn’t intend on writing a blog, but when I started to realise that the Facebook status was becoming an essay I thought why not give people the choice as to whether they want to hear my opinion. (Aha, that’s another blog in itself right?) Also, note that word, opinion. Meaning, this is not fact, nor do I believe that what I’m saying is fact, this is simply my view on things, typing away. I’m aware of this, it’s just a gentle reminder for you too, and that it’s okay to disagree or to have your own opinion. That’s already progress.

I’ve been thinking about the whole International Women’s Day. I mean generally speaking, I think that having a day to celebrate and preach about being female does not promote equality of the sexes but in fact the exact opposite – third wave feminism shiz right there. But that’s not dismissing the women who need the day as encouragement either. (But that too is another blog – ah why is blogging so hard?)

What I did notice on Tuesday though, is that most tweets and Facebook statuses on the day for once were not about the latest height of one of the Kardashian’s lip or what name Cheryl is now using, but women related things directed to ‘other’ women, meaning the real women – meaning girls like you and I. This too is progress.

Long may we continue to have opinions and inspirations based on our individual interests.

You see,  I fear that a lot of women these days, (or the ladies that surround my Social Media), are influenced by women of power, these reality TV star celebrities with incomes of seven digits – and the rest. It seems that there’s this pressure on girls to try and be mainstream, remain current and be ‘hip’. But with Instagram accounts showcasing perfect contouring, sorry, I mean filters, sorry, I mean beauty, and Kim Kardashian’s naked selfies… is that reeeally what young women aspire to? I mean, there’s nothing wrong in seeing it, if you have an opinion on it, but to those who follow this false lifestyle, like truly, in my opinion, is just silly.

I suggest let real women inspire you. You know, people who have attributes that you personally find attractive. These women, I guarantee, also have flaws. Don’t allow these Social Media accounts, although visually pretty, blind you into thinking that this is the norm of how women should be – perfect.

We’re not perfect at all. The people who I call my friends are total psychos. Me included.(Because lets face it ladies – we are). But I, one girl out of a whole gazillion women on this earth, I alone suffer with word vomit, bags under my eyes, an extremely scatty brain, a temper, a huge appetite, like I’m a total goofball – a mess some friends would say. I’m guilty of taking the odd selfie. I have my down days and my hyper moments. I’m human. And wait for it, that’s FIINEEE. But, I’d like to think I’m intelligent enough to acknowledge and accept all breeds of women because what would us other women be without those celebrities right? How would you know who you want to be without the extremes?

There are so many ways to gain people’s respect that doesn’t jeopardise your own.

So if you’re reading this thinking you may be on the borderline then I’m not trying to change anyone’s life here, but this is just some text with a little hope that maybe you’ll value yourself and learn some decorum, what’s that quote? Be an Audrey anyone else in a world full of Kardashians.*

Period. (Pardon the pun).

Ps. I so just wrote my first blog?!!?!?

*(Sorry for slating the Kardashian’s but they’re just the classic example of media corruption)