Photo credit: lindanieuws.nl
Submitted by Ghanwa, 3 July 2017
June is celebrated as Pride Month, a celebration of sexuality, sexual orientations and gender identities. I, a bisexual cis woman, too joined the Utrecht Pride to partake in the celebration and the festivities. However, I soon realized that my idea of sexual liberation and freedom, which finds its basis in respect, was quite stark from others around me. I was sexually harassed by two gay men who refused to acknowledge their actions as sexual in nature as they were, gay, and I a woman. They slapped my ass and, when confronted, they showed no remorse and instead the act was followed up with statements such as “yes, I did slap your fine ass.”
For those two men, and their friends, it was very hard to grasp why I was making such a big deal because they slapped my ass in a lighthearted manner and since they’re gay men, it shouldn’t matter. I was asked if I knew “how gay people work” and if I was aware of homosexuality, then I should accept this violence on my body. For them, since they had no sexual desire for my body, their actions had no consequences. They were unable to grasp why I refused to accept their “right” to touch my body without my consent.
The idea of sexual liberation, which should mean respect of everyone regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity, is perverted to mean the freedom to disrespect, and these sexual transgressions are justified due to an absence of sexual desire.
A distorted narrative
Often, TV shows and movies have a comedic storyline whereby a very good looking man is accused of sexual harassment by an “unattractive” woman. The punch-line always being how can you harass someone you are not sexually attracted to?
Such a narrative gives the power in the hands of men to define and justify their touch and violence on women’s bodies. A perverse idea of sexuality is perpetuated whereby women are asked to chill and relax and not be prudes about the unwelcome advances to their bodies. The nonconsensual act is not done out of sexual desire and thus, must not be read as sexual violence. As a result, whether the touch is perverted or not is determined by the men’s intentions. What is missing is the voice of the woman, the victim, on whose body the violence has been inflicted.
It fails to understand that sexual harassment is not a result of desire, it never has been. Instead, it’s about violence and control over certain bodies. It’s not a violent sexuality, rather it is sexualized violence.
Disclaimer: This blog is based in the writer’s experiences and thus, reflects her reality. The blog does not imply that it is only women who face and experience sexual violence at the hands of only men. The writer is aware that perpetrators and victims of sexual violence and harassment do not necessarily ascribe only to these gender identities and she acknowledges that different people have different experiences, each being equally valid.