Many years ago I was driving behind a minibus along Barbican Road, heading towards Barbican Square. The conductor was standing on the bus step, half hanging out of the bus as it moved along in the line of traffic. Just as we passed the intersection with Garth Road, the conductor reached out and grabbed the breast of a schoolgirl walking on the sidewalk, facing the oncoming traffic. The conductor laughed as the bus continued on its way. The adolescent schoolgirl, in her crisply pressed uniform, had a look of horror on her face, as she drew her arms up in front of her in a protective gesture.
Last week a video came to light in which Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is heard saying the following, among other things:
“I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Trump, in his apology or justification, said this was just “locker room talk”. As discussion about his comments continues, a number of women are speaking out about their experiences with Trump kissing, groping or grabbing them in the past.
Is there need for more discussion about who has the right to grab women’s body parts? In workplaces, homes, social settings, the street, schools, universities, public transportation, church, Parliament? Is grabbing a woman’s body parts without her consent ever acceptable? Does it matter who you are or who the woman/girl is? If you have power or are a star or are in a moving vehicle is it okay? Does her age or what she’s wearing or the size of her breasts or her perceived level of beauty matter?
Across the world, to varying degrees, women’s bodies are viewed with a sense of entitlement by men, viewed by many as there to be grabbed in one way or another, physically, verbally, metaphorically, legislatively, in whole or in part – breast, bottom, vagina, uterus.
And for many people, ah nuh nuttn.