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#Ididnotreport

Don't be these guys.

Don't be these guys.

"Increasingly I feel awkward and embarrassed when walking around my city. Most mornings, upon leaving my house, I attract the attention of at least one lecherous motorist, or a pair of wayward builders. When I step out into the open, I am stepping into a man's world."

That's the beginning of a blog post written on Tuesday by Londoner Tabby Kinder, in which she continues, saying: "I must be reserved yet sexual, demure yet demanding, and attractive, without allowing myself to become an exhibit."

She was writing in reaction to the Twitter hashtag #Ididnotreport, launched by the London Feminist website this week. In the past couple of days, it has become something a global confessional for woman (and men) who have been sexually assaulted or abused and decided not to take the matter to police or authorities.

The writer of the blog was responding to a survey done by the mumsnet website of 1600 women, which revealed 10 per cent of respondents had been raped and more than one-third sexually assaulted.

However, 83 per cent of respondents who had been raped or sexually assaulted did not make a report to the police - and London Feminist rightly mused: "I wonder how many others are out there?"

Thus the hash tag was born.

While this might sound flighty, "memey" and thoroughly unscientific to some readers, there's no doubting the sincerity and sadness of the stories shared on #Ididnotreport, with hundreds of women (and some men) describing rapes and abuse by parents, friends, carers and teachers.

And though the women's reasons for not reporting are sometimes quite different, many are a variation on this theme:

"#Ididnotreport the man who date-raped me when I was 19. I did tell mutual friends, who called me a liar."

"#Ididnotreport because reporting the first time ruined my life."

Having been in an emotionally destructive situation where no one would believe me about the other person's behaviour, I know this is fertile soil for insanity and depression. You actually wonder if you're imagining it - or whether you've done something to deserve it.

I am in no way suggesting I know what it's like to be raped, but there are many ways to have your self-esteem shattered, your confidence undermined - and sexual assault must be number one with a bullet.

I have to admit feeling moments of irritation with some posters, who joined the hashtag to say they did not report being screamed at out of cars, or ogled, or whistled at - because I think it diminishes sexual assault to even put it in the same room as a "Hey, ba-beee", from a scaffolder.

But then I'm a bloke and, as I've tried to explain many times on this blog, one of the great challenges of being human is practising empathy, whether it be with another gender, race, sexual orientation or religion, and attempting to see the world through their eyes.

Last night I walked into an underground car park - site of countless movie and TV murders and assaults - saw a group of guys walking towards me, and actually marvelled at how safe I felt; it is almost beyond my comprehension to experience fear in that situation.

However, I'd just given a talk to a large group of women in the establishment upstairs and I stopped to consider what one of them, weighing in at 5' 6" and 60 kilograms, would have felt watching those men approach in concrete tomb, with no one else about?

Anxiety?

Fear?

Wariness, at least?

Suffice it to say, I also have to push myself to imagine how frustrating/demeaning/annoying/upsetting it must be to have knobheads offer unsolicited appraisal of your arse, breasts, dress, "rootability" or lack of it while you walk to work.

As with Kony 2012, I have no doubt there will be many, many naysayers about this hashtag, sneering that it is one more example of how the internet dilutes, simplifies or trivialises a serious subject, but these are different days we live in.

Tabby Kinder wrote on Tuesday: "Twitter has given women a platform to tell the world the things they were too scared to tell their families, friends, or the police."

Ten years ago, I'm not sure how - short of sitting through a doco on rape, or having a friend or relative assaulted - your average man could even begin to comprehend the pervasiveness and horror of rape.

Now all he has to do is visit this hashtag and read.

I encourage you all to do so.

Sam de Brito's latest novel Hello Darkness is in bookstores now. You can follow him on Twitter here. His email address is here.

103 comments so far

  • Sam, with respect, not all of the Kony2012 "naysayers" were "sneering." In fact, quite a number gave considered responses to your post, suggesting closer scrutiny of the video's source organisation and the potential consequences of any uncritical, reflexive support for it.

    I'm sure you receive your fair share of hate-mail, but why not show character and take legitimate differences of opinion on the chin, instead of seeking to shut it all down? There's an opportunity for engaged, informed debate in this case, among others arising on your blog over the years, but I notice that you often respond with put-downs and outright dismissal.

    Having said that, we can all do better to conduct civil discussion on these boards.

    Peace.

    Commenter
    Mark
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    March 14, 2012, 10:44AM
    • @Mark.

      You fail at comprehending Sam's intent..

      Is that a deliberate choice you've made?

      Commenter
      The evil twin
      Date and time
      March 15, 2012, 1:31AM
  • I don't walk past many building sites at the same time as attractive women so have no idea if there is changing attitudes, but I have noticed a large increase in the number of women working on building sites I come across.(or more particularly road works).

    Hopefully this has helped a lot to pull a few mens heads in?

    I feel two things. One its terrible to hear of sexism/sexual assault etc, but also I feel sorry for the very lonely and depressed men who are the perpetrators.

    what sort of bloke publicly masturbates for example?

    Commenter
    Barney
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    March 14, 2012, 10:49AM
    • Still no women on building sites. Maybe an engineer or contracts administrator hopping by, but very, very few in an actual trade.

      And yeah, women still get wolf-whistled etc if they are spotted walking by. Sometimes I hear about "the chicks that were jogging out the front 15 minutes ago". It definitely happens. The perpetrators are married, single, lonely, have lots of women in their lives, whatever. That sort of harassing behaviour isn't consigned to one personality type.

      Commenter
      hired goon
      Date and time
      March 14, 2012, 1:58PM
    • I think it's more like a stringent employer code of conduct that is enforced on most building sites these days. Builders I know face a slap on the wrist for even using bad language close to where they can be heard by passers by. The wolf whistling on a building site is an outdated cliche these days, I think if you want to talk about real life unwanted harassment and humiliation by males, you might want to consider predators hanging around late night bars making aggressive advances on drunk women, gangs of drunk guys on the street harassing women passing by, guys who film partners and then distribute it to their mates.

      Commenter
      SiobhanSyd
      Date and time
      March 14, 2012, 4:03PM
    • I was under the impression it was illegal and an immediate sacking offence if construction site workers catcalled or wolf whistled at any woman walking by. I've walked by construction sites before but I've only gotten polite hellos and admiring glances.

      As for the underground carpark thing. If I saw a group of men walking towards me in a place like that, I would probably detour around them as subtly as possible. If I couldn't do that, I would avoid them as much as I could, with my head held high, eyes straight, and with a confident stride. I read somewhere that men who attack women generally pick on those whose body language shows fear or uncertainty. They don't take the chance of dealing with a "fighter".

      I'm not generally a scared person so men don't usually intimidate me. But there is such a thing as being smart and prepared and aware of your surroundings. I always hold my keys in my hands and I'm careful about where I go by myself, especially late at night.

      Commenter
      Audra Blue
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      March 14, 2012, 6:13PM
    • @Barney. As a child of 8-10 I was sexually assaulted by three men (not all at the same time) in their late 50s/early 60s. I really struggle to feel sympathy for these "very lonely and depressed men who are the perpetrators". You need to understand that everything from wolf-whistling to rape and murder is about power. Nothing to do with sex, except as a vehicle. Victims are totally disempowered (thanks Sam for your take on that) and often blame themselves.
      It's amazing how much of this sort of thing goes on, so I can really relate to the high percentage of non-reporting. I know I never did - who would have believed me?

      Commenter
      Chris
      Location
      Kiama
      Date and time
      March 15, 2012, 12:56AM
    • @hired goon. Thank you for recognising the bad behaviour of certain men isn't confined to their relationship status.

      @Barney. I have also noticed there are more women working on those building sites lately (especially road/rail sites). Do you think any of them are "hot"? Why should it even matter if they are (or aren't)?

      For the record, I don't think I would be comfortable working on one of those sites, and I feel sorry for the women who do.

      Commenter
      The evil twin
      Date and time
      March 15, 2012, 1:58AM
  • "Twitter has given women a platform to tell the world the things they were too scared to tell their families, friends, or the police."

    This. This is what is wrong with the world right now.

    Now why do I need to visit the hashtag and read? To be confronted with yet another face of yet another person who would prefer to spew their story to world instead of to the proper authorities? To be disillusioned, let down and made weary of a generation that prefer to be part of a montage on a weblink instead of being the person to actually help bring down a perpetrator?

    But it's sexual assault! It's important! Yes, I thought so too. Just clearly not important enough to actually report.

    Commenter
    tba
    Date and time
    March 14, 2012, 10:54AM
    • I think you'll find part of this is about feeling alone, but with the hashtag concept a victim can see how not-alone they are. Also by showing just how many people are effected those who aren't get a better idea of this not being a highly rare occurance.
      Maybe you'd prefer the site with the photos of people holding signs of what was said to them by their attackers?

      Commenter
      Raida
      Location
      chewing salty razors
      Date and time
      March 20, 2012, 10:54AM

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