I attended the San Francisco Women’s March in 2017 with a friend. He sexually assaulted me two months later.
The approach of the second Women’s March has brought up a lot of emotion, as I imagine it has for many others. For me, the Woman’s March was a day that made me proud to be a woman. I marched with my past experiences of sexual assault, and walked in solidarity with others who feel like they have been silenced at some point in their life. I marched with millions of individuals who stood for women’s empowerment; I never thought that the person marching beside me, someone who I saw as my friend, would sexually assault me two months later.
It took me almost a year to realize the hypocrisy in this fact: a man, who held his sign high and marched beside me and my friends, would explicitly contribute to the problems that we were supposedly marching against.
This has left me both disgusted and confused. To march does not mean to walk, but to commit to acting out the movement you are marching for. This fact has made me realize that marching will never magically create the necessary changes. To march without true conviction and support for the cause is to lie to everyone around you.
We must think and reflect on why we march, because attendance is far from enough. We must consider the consequences of our actions and non-actions.
This is the letter I wrote to guy who I marched with at The Woman’s March after he had sexually assaulted me two months after the march…
“You were one of my closest friends. You know more about me than most people and I trusted you with a lot. I trusted you to respect me. You knew what I was working on and you knew my past experiences with guys, but yet you just became one of them. You knew I was very drunk that night and you knew that I would never ever give you if I was sober. I woke up that morning sick to my stomach, I woke up feeling like I had been disrespected and taken advantage of. I tried to cover it up and pretend like what happened was ok. But quite honestly it's not ok… that night with you opened my eyes and I'm done living that way. I am done carrying around the shame and guilt I'm done blaming myself. I am ready to accept what happened and come back stronger.
I blocked you and have been ignoring you because I don't trust you at all. My body fills up with disgust, fear, and anxiety when I see you. You may not realize the effect you have on someone when you sexual assault them, but it's the most dehumanizing feeling in the world.
I'm asking you to treat woman with respect. Think of them as more than just someone you can used to get laid. We are human not objects for you to use for your own pleasure. Think about the impact you'll have before you act. Learn what consent is. Take this as a lesson so that you never treat a woman the way you treated me.”
I am not sure what has hurt me the most: the fact that he did not respond when I confronted him, or the fact that I will never know if he is treating other women this way. This experience is something that will always be a part of me, yet I realize that it is not all of me.
If you choose to participate in this year’s Women’s March, I ask you to look at the goals of the march.
I ask you to promise to act on them in your day to day life.
I ask you to think about the ways in which you treat others.
And lastly, I ask you to remember that your actions speak louder than your marching.
Hi, I’m Katie. I’m 27 years old and for most of my life I have been affected by body confidence issues… haven’t we all?
It all began when my friends at school started wearing bras, and as I had nothing developing in that region, I experienced my first taste of feeling like something was wrong; I felt like the odd one out. But when I look back at it now, I bet there were many other girls in that changing room that felt the same way about some part of their body. We just can’t seem to help but compare ourselves to others and find fault with our own body.
As we started taking an interest in boys and they started taking an interest in our breasts, my self-confidence dwindled further; I didn’t want anyone to find out just how flat-chested I was. I dreaded every PE lesson in case someone saw whilst I was getting changed. I hated going swimming. For years it prevented me from wearing certain clothes that I would have loved to have worn. I remember the sinking feeling I would get as I was searching for a new top. I would find one I loved and then realized you couldn’t wear it with a bra, so it was a no go for me. As you’ve probably figured out by now my main body confidence issue was my lack of breasts. I can only speak from this experience, but I know that the list of body confidence issues is endless.
Most of my friends would regularly complain about various aspects of their body not being up to scratch, something I still see today. And now that we’re older and having children, we have stretch marks to contend with too. But why are we feeling like this is something to be ashamed of, there is nothing WRONG with stretch marks, nor is there anything wrong with being taller, shorter, bigger here or smaller there. However, society would like to have us believe that there is something wrong with us, often so they can make money off of our insecurities. I don’t know about you, but I have had enough of it. When I hear people say “oh my legs are too short”, “my boobs are too small”, “my hips are too big”, I ask, “says who”?
There is no sole human prototype which we must compare ourselves against. Just as we all have individual and unique dreams, ambitions, and aspirations, our ideas of perfection are all different. Who says that your “butt is too flat” or your “nose is too pointy”? No one, that’s who. If anyone does say those words to you, then remember that they are only words, not fact. And truthfully, they have no right to pass judgement on your body, they do not speak from a place of authority or expertise on your body, or anyone else’s body.
When I see people putting themselves down it makes me feel sad, I look at my children and hope that they will not let body confidence issues control them the way they have affected me. I have reached a point in my life where I have decided to stick two fingers up at my society induced body confidence issues. I am fed up of it holding me back. For the first time in my life I went out without wearing a padded bra the other day and it felt so invigorating. No one pointed or laughed, but even if they did, it would be them with the problem. All that matters is our own opinion of ourselves and we need to protect that from the media influence, which may I remind you is frequently edited or cosmetically enhanced. Embrace yourself, be kind to yourself (no negative talk), let your confidence grow and shine through, because it’s far more beautiful than those long legs or bigger lips that you think you need.
We can all do our bit to encourage body positivity, to stop society from creating a generation so dissatisfied with their body’s. We can do this by saying no to Photoshop, by uplifting and supporting our friends, thinking before we speak, and learning to love ourselves.
You see, the body is an amazing thing. It has taken you places, it’s kept you running when you thought you could go no further, it has fought disease, and repaired itself. It has grown hair to curl and nails to paint, it has allowed you to taste chocolate, smell the sea air, feel the sun on your skin, show emotion, cuddle your loved ones, and one day it may help you to create new life if it hasn’t already. So we need to show it unconditional love and respect, for there is no one else who will look after you like your body does.
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