Now Playing: Kristy, Are You Doing Okay? by The Offspring (your eyes told a tale of an act of betrayal I knew that somebody did)
I love clubbing. I don't go out much, but when I do, I love it. I love the night. I love the thrill. I love wining and dining with my friends and dancing the night away.
And yes, I hook up. As is my right; I'm single, I don't have a child to care for or a partner to consider or a family to bring home the bacon to. There are some things, as my mother says, that you can only do when you're nineteen.
But these experiences - these beautiful, breathtaking, dizzying, heartbreaking experiences of growing up, of falling in love with strangers, of dancing the night away, of nights with clothes strewn across the floor, are marred by fear. Fear that I can't go out, be young, and be myself without being hurt.
The recent conviction of Luke Lazarus hit a raw nerve, for me; because I remember, so vividly, my eighteenth birthday. It was a few days after I turned eighteen and I was nervous and excited about going out for the first time. I was with a small group of friends I trusted but, for the briefest second, I was separated from the group and had to brush off a few creepy strangers.
I could have been that girl that Luke Lazarus raped in an alleyway. So many of us could have.
I am angry at Luke Lazarus; not only because he thought himself entitled to someone's body and to ruin someone's life, but I am angry that it is men like him that force women like us, in this day and age, to be afraid. To feel guilty when we are not doing anything wrong. And we are not doing anything wrong.
I adore the few male friends that I have. I love their fearlessness and confidence. But I worry about them endlessly, too, because most of them are young and stupid and far too fond of their liquor. But I have come to admire their lives of affairs and excitement and curious, wandering hands and I am so angry that I cannot have this life for myself.
Girls, believe it or not, need outlets just as much as men. Girls, believe it or not, want to, and are allowed to, go out, get drunk, and have fun. We do not deserve to be raped for living the lives our men are encouraged, and sometimes obligated, to lead.
But I am most angry at the people who have flocked to defend Luke Lazarus, calling his conviction 'completely unreasonable' and saying that he is a 'good, upstanding young man with a bright future'. Fuck you. You are the people who are responsible for the rape culture that has made me walk the streets with keys weaved through my fingers.
Women are not ignorant to the dangers of living in women's bodies; we are so hyperaware that we come off as crazy, overreacting, irrational, even stuck-up - more than once I've been told 'you'd be lucky if I raped you'. But we are, however, much more well informed than geriatrics bemoaning that women can't keep their legs shut and so get what's coming for them. I know that I can be assaulted in my home, by a partner, by a relative, in broad daylight, by a friend, in public or private spaces. Nowhere is safe, and nothing I do will change the fact that I am treated like a walking target. Don't tell me not to go out. It's not a crime to go out. It's a crime to rape, and nothing will change that.
We also have to stop seeing women as the weakest link; the people most likely to fix this problem, the people we can talk to, unlike those psychopathic monsters who lurk in the dead of the night like a vampire or a werewolf in a children's fairytale. Luke Lazarus is someone's son. He is someone's brother. He is your colleague, your friend, your rugby team member. He is someone you could have talked to. He is someone you failed to talk to. We are failing women, but we are also failing men by treating them like the rapists that some of them become. We tell women to be responsible for crimes committed against them but we don't tell men to be responsible for the crimes that rape culture and a lifetime of entitlement will lead some of them to commit. That is the failure here; not that a woman's skirt was too short, or that conviction will dash a young man's dreams. The failure is that we don't talk about rape, and when we do, all fingers point to the sluts who should stay behind locked doors, as if that will keep them safe.
I don't need some old tottering mayor to tell me that my behaviour is risky and that I am putting myself in danger.I don't need a bunch of idiots to tell me that men who prey on girls just like me are decent human beings. I don't need to be told to feel sorry for convicted rapists. I don't need people to moan about how rape convictions ruin young men's dreams of being sportstars and CEOs. I don't need anyone to tell me that I am the problem; that by having a female body that I have done anything wrong.
Luke Lazarus raped a teenage girl in an alley behind his father's nightclub. Luke Lazarus. Remember that name. Keep looking at his face. He deserves his humiliation; his victim does not deserve hers. She does not deserve to be told that she is the problem. We women deserve better than this.
And all of us deserve to live our lives without this threat of violation hanging over us like the sword of Damocles.