PRIMARY SCHOOL. A boy in the year above tries to trick me into kissing him, then shoves me in the chest when I don't comply. Later he went on to bully me extensively, only stopping because he graduated Grade 6 and moved on to high school. I hear he's spent time in jail since then.
SIXTEEN years old. The pencil skirt I wear as part of my uniform doesn't fit me as well as it does for the other girls, and my hips swell beneath the tight fabric before rushing back in at the waist, leaving a gap of ill-fitting material. I am slightly too short to reach the pass behind the counter at the bistro where I work, and have to lean over the cold metal bench and stretch my entire body forward just to reach. Two old men - white hair and wizened faces - wait at the till for me to serve them, and when I ask them how they are doing one of the men replies 'really good, now I've been watching you bend over like that.' I smirk and try to take their order as quickly as I can.
FIRST year of university in a pub in Geelong. It's my birthday weekend. I'm wearing a $12 dress I bought from Kmart and as I walk into the pub, a guy around my age grabs the back of my dress, whips it up, and promptly grabs my ass. I am called a bitch the minute I tell him to get fucked.
WORKING IN a cafe aged 23. The job is cash in hand, which is good for my tax. The owner of the cafe liked to make jokes about my body and tries to nip various parts of me with his tongs. He goes into great detail when he describes what he imagines my genitalia looks like. His face is huge and fat and red and I have to laugh because if I don't he gets shitty at me.
LAST MONTH. A friend tells my boyfriend that my tits are too small as I stand beside him. Like, right next to him, in earshot.
THIS HAPPENS ALL THE TIME. To all women. From all kinds of men. And the worst part is not that these men are doing it on purpose. These actions don't have to be severe to be incriminating. The point is that they are persistent, consistent, and thoroughly entrenched in our society. Many of these interactions I have described were most likely not a malicious act on the behalf of the man. That is not an excuse. That is an example of the way that this behaviour has perpetuated itself for many decades, across many countries, and countless women.
In the days that have passed since the Weinstein story broke, dozens of high-profile women have spoken about circumstances in which they have felt powerless. Me too. Times when they felt trapped. Me too. And how they wish for a world where these interactions, these minute and monstrous examples of abuse are a part of our past, but not a part of our future.