Today I watched the BBC drama Three Girls, which is the story of the Rochdale Child Sex Abuse Ring. It was extremely harrowing, and may me extraordinarily angry.
And it got me thinking.
It made me think about how all my female friends have suffered at the hands of males. Of course, they’ve suffered at the hands of other girls, but a lot of us have been fucked up on some level by things men and boys have done to us.
Until I started really thinking about it today, I didn’t realise how much shit we’ve collectively experienced from men. Most of us have been catcalled at some point, most of us have been sent nudes we really didn’t want to see. I know it isn’t all men that do this, and I know that many men are completely against these kinds of actions. It just frustrates me that , since I was about 12, I’ve observed this pattern of… Well I don’t know what to call it, but we’ll go with bad stuff, from guys.
My best friend and I were both manipulated by two guys on separate occasions, between the ages of 13 and 17. One was part of our close friend circle for many years, and we didn’t realise the extent of his manipulation until we were discussing it the other day. He didn’t force us to do any sexual stuff, but he pulled the strings in our friend group (us 2 girls, and 2 guys including him) excessively, and somehow found ways to control the both of us. The other guy was more sinister. He tried to elicit all sorts of stuff from me online, whilst he was dating her. He once told me he’d “spent a week masturbating over [me] constantly”. This was in response to me messaging him “Hi, how’s it going?”. This was also happening during one of my extremely bad periods of mental health, so things were sort of hazy. I was more pliable I guess. He used to tell me how I should dress for school. Basically dress “sexier” for him. He used the fact I’d confided in him about the very serious mental health issues I was having to manipulate and pressure me into following his demands. To clarify, nothing physical occurred between me and him, it was purely him controlling my life and taking advantage of the fact that I was very ill. My friend, he was, to put it plainly, bullying. It was borderline emotional abuse how he treated her. A lot of the time it was things like him telling her she wasn’t allowed to spend any time with me, and would switch between being sweet and loving to being very cold and cruel with little warning. When he was out of our lives we were both pretty thrilled.
Those 2 boys aren’t the only ones who have caused me to suffer. When I was 12 years old, a boy in my class asked me if I would give him a “BJ”. I hadn’t even heard of the term, and when it was explained to me I was disgusted. There were more over the years, doing things big and small, but I’d rather not go into all of that.
Another friend had a boy repeatedly show her pictures of his genitals, another was pressured into sleeping with boys even though she didn’t feel ready. One was in a “relationship” aged 13 with a boy the same age, and she told me that she didn’t want to have sex with him anymore, but she didn’t know how to say no to him. One of our teachers in school, though he did not make any advances, had a slightly disturbing interest in one of the pupils. He didn’t declare his love for her or anything like that, but the way he was always watching her, and the way he was always trying to talk to her on a friend to friend basis set us both on edge.
Not all males are evil. In fact, I don’t believe any person is truly good or evil. We all commit good and bad acts. But that does not change the fact that so many of my female friends were messed about in some way by guys.
There are the really good ones though. As I said, they have done bad stuff in the past, but they definitely, to me at least, shine out.
My boyfriend, though he can be a bit of a turd at times (though the loveliest turd possible), is always there for me. No matter what I’m going through, he tries to understand and support me the best he can. He is willing to watch Bridesmaids over and over with me, even though he hates it, because he knows I love it.
L, a guy who I’ve been friends with since school. He is probably the most forgiving person I know. He is always ready to give people a second chance, and approaches everything with such positivity. I envy him a little for that. He doesn’t let other people’s opinions cloud his judgement- he makes up his own mind, rather than blindly accepting rumours.
M, a friend from uni. Although our friendship recently has had struggles, he has always been there to support me. Even when we were in a huge fight, when I broke down in tears in the middle of the night, he came to me and he hugged me, and made me feel a little bit more okay.
K, another friend from uni. We don’t talk so much now, but he is legit one of the best people I know. He keeps his cool, and he always tries to be kind. He doesn’t take sides, and listens to what everyone has to say. He’s just a really good human.
My brother. Okay so he’s a bit of a wanker and mostly talks in grunts and swears (he’s 17, so it’s no surprise), but at heart he is such a good kid. He is so respectful of people’s rights and feelings, and I cannot imagine him ever harming anyone (outside of his karate lessons).
So, again, I cannot deny that myself and my friends have been fucked up by guys on various levels. Three Girls set me thinking about that today, and I’ll continue to have it on my mind for a while yet. It’s also made me appreciate the really good guys in my life, though.