I was 14, I was trying to catch the train home – I’d been to friends place after school. I had to walk through a group of guys who were sitting in the way: sprawled across the stairs at the train station. I thought I heard them talking about me as I walked, saying “her?”, “yes”. A couple of them started to get up, and called out. I felt gripped with fear as I ran down the stairs. They chased me but were slightly behind me. The train pulled into the station at that moment and I jumped on it.The doors closed before anyone of them could get on. I have no idea what they were planning to do.
I was 16 I was catching the train home in my school uniform and a man sitting across from me leant forward so that the tip of his erect penis came out the bottom of his shorts.
I was walking down the street in my school uniform, when a car slowed down next to me, rolling along while the guy in the drivers seat asked me where I lived. I thought I was going to be abducted.
I was 18. Young. When I first started going out. I was kissing a guy at a club. I was walking out when my friend grabbed me and said “you’re not leaving with him, I know this guy. He wont care that you’re a virgin, he wont care if you sayno, he’ll have sex with you anyway.” The fact that this was a genuine concern… is an indication of the culture we live in.
One night I was waiting at the lights for a cab, but there didn’t seem to be any around. A stranger came up to stand next to me and wouldn’t leave me alone. When I said clearly “I’m actually just waiting for a cab, and not interested in speaking to you” he said “I don’t give a shit. That’s why you’re wearing that dress, right? So guys will want you.”
I was leaving a bar. There was a group of guys outside walking toward the place I’d just left. They saw me coming towards them, and spread out into a line so that I couldn’t walk around them, I had to walk in between them. They watched me. They leered. One asked why I was leaving. One followed me in silence for 2 blocks before turning back. I made it home and thought, “oh good, nothing happened to me.” This is The Culture.
I was walking past a construction site when a guy leered at my friend and I, walking the entire inside length of the fence, asking us where we were going, calling us “stuck up bitches” for not responding and telling us to “smile more”. I was walking down the street when a car full of guys drove past and one guy yelled “I’d f*ck you in every orifice”. When I gave them the finger, they bellowed “F*CK YOU!” This is The Culture.
A group of us were out in a regional club, drinking. A few guys were dancing on an almost empty dance floor, when a man pulled out his erection and stared at a woman.
A couple of months ago I was watching a band, up on my friend’s shoulders, having a great time, when an unknown person decided to ruin the moment by squeezing my bum. I was at a music festival, leaving the big tent in a crush of people, when someone reached up under my skirt and put his fingers inside me. There were so many people, I couldn’t turn around or push him away, by the time I managed to turn, no one was looking in my direction and I had no idea who it was. This is The Culture.
And the thing is, these experiences are trivial compared to some of those of my friends, compared to those of women and minorities around the world. And yet these seemingly small, insignificant incidents add to a culture where a woman’s body becomes a mere commodity, and continue to build on the idea that a woman is inferior to a man, that a woman is an object for a mans pleasure. In a world where a men can see women this way, that is the world where a man can act on an urge to abduct a woman, treat a woman like they own her, grab her, grope her, or pressure a woman into sex.
This is The Culture. And it has to stop.
Laura Jackson is an young, emerging, Australian playwright presenting her newest play “The Culture”, premiering in Wollongong 11- 13 of September at The Phoenix Theatre, before heading to The Sydney Fringe 25 – 27 of September, along with her first and critically acclaimed work “Handle It” – 23 – 34 of September, Erskineville Town Hall.
“The Culture” is a topical, thought provoking new work addressing issues of domestic violence, homophobia and street harassment in following dovetailing stories of two best friends Will who is gay and Katie who is a young woman. The two struggle for equality as they search for love in a modern culture which deems them both to be inferior.
Jackson’s first play “Handle It” reached critical acclaim after premiering in 2014, and going on to have 7 successful seasons, including a performance for UN Women, coming up to it’s 8th at The Sydney Fringe. “Handle It” is a one woman play, which covers incredibly important issues of online privacy, sexual assault and victim blaming when a young woman has compromising pictures posted onto Facebook without her permission and six characters around her are left reeling in the wake of these events.
THE CULTURE Wollongong, 11-13th Sept, Phoenix Theatre, Coniston, http://www.trybooking.com/IEFW
HANDLE IT Sydney Fringe, 23 – 24th Sept, Erskineville Town Hall, bit.ly/HandleItSyd
THE CULTURE Sydney Fringe, 25- 27th Sept, Erskineville Town Hall, bit.ly/TheCultureSyd
If you would like to win a double pass to see any of these shows, be the first to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and nominate your prefered show!