On Saturday night I went to go and see Hannah Gadsby’s ‘Nanette’ at the Sydney Opera House. I have loved Hannah for a long time. I watched her when she was on tv with Adam Hills, and I adored her on Please Like Me. I had wanted to see her for a while, but it never worked out. Nanette had its run and I didn’t get to see it. I was sad because it won best show at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival and at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. I saw so many people praising it and wondered what they were talking about. When she decided to do two more shows, I jumped on it.
The show made me laugh, but more importantly, it broke my heart. Weird thing to say about a comedy show, I know. Hannah is a comedian. I expected to laugh. It started off that way. She told a story of how she was once at a bus stop after a night out when she was 17. She was talking (hitting on) a girl whose boyfriend was drunk, and came over telling her to stay away from his girlfriend ‘fucking faggot’, and threatened to hit her, not realizing she was actually female. When his girlfriend told him to calm down and that she was a girl, she said he apologized and starting saying ‘sorry, I don’t hit girls’. She said ‘how bout you don’t hit anyone at all?’ and we all chuckled.
Later on she talked about how she needed to quit comedy. That in order to write jokes she had to be self deprecating and couldn’t do that to herself anymore. That she needed to tell her story as it happened, and not in a funny way. Because it wasn’t funny. She spoke on how she was the master of tension. That joke telling was building tension, then bringing in a punch line to relieve it, and that is why people laugh.
She then brought us back to that story about the guy at the bus stop, and said she needed to tell her story properly. How that guy really didn’t say that he didn’t hit girls, but what really happened, is her 17 year old self was brutally beaten for being gay. How she should have taken herself to hospital but she was too ashamed. How she was sexually assaulted when she was younger, but didn’t speak up again, because she was ashamed. Then she let us sit there with that tension. No relief. I cried. My heart hurt for her. It still does.
I had to drive home in silence because I couldn’t actually have anything else going into my mind at that time. I still feel that tension. It makes me fucking mad. Not that she gave it to me, but that it happened to her.
That show was recorded for Netflix. When it comes on, I encourage EVERYONE to watch it. It is so important. So brilliant. If I ever am lucky enough to see Hannah, I will tell her I heard her.
Lately, there hasn’t been a day go by where someone, usually a woman, is coming forward saying she was sexually harassed or assaulted by someone. While this has always been happening, it has now truly come into the light after the accusations against Harvey Weinstein began.
Late last year, people around the world were encouraged to put the hashtag #metoo on some form of social media they had, to show what a widespread problem this is. I don’t care if you are male, female or any other title you identify with, sexual harassment or assault is never ok. Never. People make excuses, ‘oh that’s just the way they are’ or ‘they were drunk’. Even ‘it’s a cultural thing’. No. They are excuses to remove the guilt and wrong doing.
Unfortunately, I can write #metoo. I haven’t really spoken about it in the past, mainly because I dealt with it and moved on. My stories, yes plural, are certainly far from the worst I have heard, yet while this movement is happening, I feel like I should share them. I honestly believe that sometimes the people doing these things, don’t realize how they are making the other person feel, and sometimes it’s just blatant assault. So if I can help someone speak out, or help someone realize their ways might be wrong, then I will do it.
In one of my earlier jobs, we had a big meeting for two days about plans for certain projects, and then on the second day, our boss had planned to take us all out to dinner afterwards. The place I worked at was male dominated and I had only been there two weeks when this took place. Dinner was great. It was a good opportunity to get to know people outside the work place. Then we went to a pub. The drinks were flowing, people were dancing and talking, and one of the guys grabbed my hand and took me out the front. Other guys were already out there smoking and saw that happen and started making all these lewd comments. I didn’t really know what was happening, I’d just gone with it, because honestly, in my head, I never expected what was about to happen, and I was new. I wanted to be cool. He leaned in and whispered in my ear ‘I want to take you over to that dark park and fuck you’. Was he drunk? Yep. Did he mean it? Yep. He was also married with a new born child, and apparently, ‘this is just how he is’. I don’t know exactly what I said next, but it was a fair amount of swearing, him trying to calm me down and me then getting free from his grip and speed walking away. Pretty sure he was terrified I was about to tell someone what he had done. Around the corner were a manager of mine and my friend who had helped me get the job. I burst into tears and they took me back up to our building and we hung out for a bit, while I calmed down. Then I went back to one of the rooms the boss had booked for us, and tried to sleep. The guy was forced to apologise to me on Monday, although he didn’t really remember what he had done, and that was the last I heard of it. I never forgot it though.
At a festival at Moore Park, watching one of my favourite bands, Linkin Park, a guy behind me thought it was ok to keep grabbing my ass, or putting his hand between my legs, while we were standing there. At first I just thought, ‘I’m at a concert, people are constantly running into each other’, but no matter how many times I batted him away, he kept going. Eventually I turned around and grabbed his had and asked him what the hell he thought he was doing. A girl next to me asked me if he had been touching me, because he had been doing the same to her. A couple of guys around us started sticking up for us and he crept away. I am sure he just went to find someone else to prey on.
At another live show at the Enmore Theatre watching the Living End, a drunk guy that could barely stand decided I would be a good person to talk to while we waited for the band to come on. His face was right in mine while he slurred something at me and before I knew it, his hand was up my shirt. I shoved him out of the way and he fell. I moved myself near security guards so I felt safer. Sure, he was absolutely hammered and probably had no idea what was happening. Is it an excuse? Hell no.
I may have gotten apologies, or gotten away from the harassment and had a good night. I’m not that girl that will march down a street with banners, chanting demands. I also don’t believe in a witch hunt. I will however not condone anyone harassing or assaulting ANYONE. I want to be able to go out and not worry that someone feels like they might have the right to make me feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Whether that be at work, at home, or while I am out. I might be quiet, but I will speak or act out when I need to.
Time’s Up #metoo
If this post has brought up any issues for you, you can contact https://au.reachout.com/articles/sexual-assault-support