Ultra Absorbent

By Vic a.k.a. @pendlecheek, 17 April 2018 #

“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore.”

Thus spake Howard Beale, immortalised by Peter Finch, and recently revived by Bryan Cranston. [For those of you from the future, it’s April 2018.]


Here’s to you.


The teacher who marketed himself as running a ‘family school,’ got off on physical violence and had kids who were clearly his favourites. We were so inured in the system that aged ten we joked about the ‘sessions’ he would have with them.


Here’s to you.


The two guys who once tried to drag me into a car at a day festival in Brockwell Park. “You’re coming with me.”

No, I fucking well ain’t.


Here’s to you.


The late-night creeps and wankers who convinced me the only safe way to walk home alone to my university accommodation was armed to the hilt.


Here’s to you.


The fat bastard jammed into the seat of his Nissan Micra with two underage girls, who shouted at me to walk more quietly or he would “teach me a lesson that would cut me down to size.”


Here’s to you.


The Big Issue vendors who grabbed my arse when I was nineteen. When I objected, they called me a fucking fat cow and said I should be grateful for the attention.


Here’s to you.


The relative who stood by and laughed while his mates touched me up. A few weeks earlier, I watched him feed fried finger food to a younger woman known to his circle as the local bike, while his wife was waiting for him at home. He also once put a prostitute on the phone to speak to me.


Here’s to you.


The musician who secretly recorded my wonky vocals when I was nervous, so he could laugh about them with other men I knew.


Here’s to you.


The jewellery store owner in Marrakech who rubbed himself up against me as he put a choker around my neck.


Here’s to you.


The former manager who still reckons that thoughtless LinkedIn recommendations compensate for the time he touched my backside in public, and who excused himself at the time by saying he was [insert nationality here]. He also sent me an abusive and controlling email while I was on compassionate leave burying my father—classy.


Here’s to you.


The senior leader to whom I reported said manager for indecent assault. He promised to address the situation. He did nothing. I subsequently heard I had been “jettisoned for political reasons.” Both men’s careers are still intact.


Here’s to you.


The shell-suit clad thug who swung me around by my hair on Westminster Bridge, and threatened to punch me in front of his young daughter because I failed to get out of the way when he tried to walk ‘through’ me.


Here’s to you.


The colleague who kept complaining he was having a nervous breakdown, failed to do a full day’s work for years, allowed me to cover for him but was obsessed enough with his own machismo to claim my work as his own—and deny everything.


Here’s to you.


His boss (and his boss) who told me I was mistaken, overreacting, should work less hard, spend more time with my family and ultimately punished me for speaking out.


Here’s to you.


There will inevitably be others I have forgotten. Putting these items in chronological order allows me to see trends and patterns in behaviour—both my own and others’. All of these people were men who sought to retain or regain power and control. In many cases I was compliant and silent, ‘assuming good intent,’ as Human Resources departments like to chant. When I spoke up, I was variously difficult, intimidating or ambitious—as if this somehow excused the original behaviour. [Those of you who don’t identify as women may not recognise ‘ambitious’ as a negative descriptor. Trust me, it is.] Codly statistical for a moment, fewer than a third of these situations involved unwanted sexual contact. If you take nothing else away from this rant, please understand this. The current focus on combating sexual harassment is great as far as it goes, but it risks bypassing much needed change in the way women are viewed and treated in all respects, not just as objects of sexual desire. I have felt much angrier for longer about an employer’s failure to deal with unfairness than I ever have a hand on my arse or anywhere else.

This has also persisted. Thirty years and counting for me. I recently said as much to the ‘senior leader’ I mentioned above. His response? “But things have improved so much in the last 50 years.” Not in my experience, pal. And who made you the fucking authority on that?


But here’s to you, too.


The role model in my extended family who practised what he preached, demonstrating that, in his own words, “we’re not all shitbags.”

The young men I am proud to call my brothers.

My worthy opponent who sees me as a person first, and a woman second.

The Big Issue vendor on Jubilee Bridge who could well be the nicest person in London. I always mean to tell him how much he has helped me, and have never quite got around to it. Shame on me.


I know you’re not all shitbags. But please have a check once in a while in case you have a lump forming. It may need cutting out.


I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore. Bridges burned? Probably. Libellous? I dare you to publicly recognise yourself in it. Paddling my own canoe? Finally.

 

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We are all Upsideclown: Vic, Jamie, Neil, Matt, James, George, and Dan. Material © its respective author. Email: complaints@upsideclown.com