Retrospective blog post on the piece #ThisHappened, a collective group piece read at Reclaim the Night: Manchester 2015.
Content Warning: Discussion of street harassment and direct quotes from harassers
A chorus of women’s voices-this happened. This happened is about the type of experiences that are silenced and shut down by the majority voice, and the dialogue constructed around experiences of street harassment that push the voice back to the perpetrator and use victim blaming tactics to silence the oppressed. There may be complicity with the harasser, ‘well they were only young boys’, or there may be silencing of the person speaking about about the harassment by shifting the topic of conversation onto the person’s behaviour, ‘what were you wearing? Why didn’t you challenge it?’
We asked self identifying women to report incidences of street harassment to Stirred Poetry and contribute their voices to a group piece, which the Stirred Collective then read out at Reclaim the Night’s after Party.
‘I block them out, it happens and I’m like, I’ll forget that ever happened.’
It’s partly a process of remembering what has happened and putting your individual experience into the wider picture, it decreases the isolation of dealing with these incidences, and it solidifies the need for organisations and events such as Reclaim the Night, where people can protest against this culture.
Here is an extract from #ThisHappened, and you can download the whole piece here: #ThisHappened
telegram in which your friendship turns to emotional abuse.stop.you look moderately attractive.stop.oh why won’t you hug me?stop.get off get off.stop.if you’re sorry.stop.if you’re really sorry.stop.if you’re really sorry come to mine.stop.and come to bed.stop.frightened i’ll blab?stop.no please don’t go please don’t go.stop.i love you.stop.what am i meant to do with that?stop. i want to stick a dagger in you.stop.in broad daylight.stop.in oldham street.stop.what would you do if i killed myself?stop. you are the prettiest girl.stop.you’re not allowed to die.stop.i want the trains to make this.stop.
Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to #ThisHappened, we were proud to read the piece out at Reclaim the Night and testify again to the need to continue challenging sexism and misogyny when we experience it, in whatever way we can.
Women’s officer Jess Lishak at University of Manchester blogs here, in particular she lists the tactics used to keep safe on the way home, a non-exhaustive list of exhausting details used by women to feel safe on the streets.