Have we all moved on? The one thing that comes with age is that you can look back with a glint in your eye and a smirk. I have got this far and believe I have remained in the realms of sanity, although to keep me in place, I think it is time, to be honest, and say, (under my breath in case my kids read this,) my survival was due to a bit of craziness and an inept sense of humour.
I am talking about us women, our dignity and value, and how we, back then, (in the 70’s and 80’s) coped with what could often be described as a BIT OF A DRAMA today.
Notice, how I avoid shouting out and using words explicitly, this is because I want you to read between the lines, as my mother and grandmother respectfully taught me to do. Well nice girls like us never talked about, you know, that kind of stuff. Especially when it involved men and some of the abysmal stuff they dreamed they could get away with.
I recently wrote an article about Jimmy Saville and my own experience; read the article and you will understand. Back then I had no idea about what a dirty grime ball he was. It was not until my divorce that my aspect on life, my awakening to the real world, and that my relationships towards the opposite sex started to change.
I must have been the youngest divorcee in history. I was only twenty-one and had been married blissfully for three years. I had conformed, much to my parent’s delight. Married at 18 to the boy next door, installed in the pretty cottage with roses around the door and told to wait for children and old age. I pleasantly went along with it, until my husband put a spanner in the works and started sleeping with some girl he met in a disco. Well, we were very young, and the universe had other plans for this pretty, and naïve 21-year-old.
The following year, I could say was the year of all years. I had been set free, why? Because I discovered that the man I had believed was my Disney Prince Charming, first love and all that malarkey, was not who I thought he was and this fairy tale was not the happy ending that we are all led to expect. My simple little brain was about to mature and move away from ‘Happy Ever After and towards playing the field. Did I suspect all the male human race was playing a nasty game? Was I out to get revenge? Damn right. My mother was beside herself as I ran out, waving my arms in the air and singing, “I will survive’
Let me add here, this only lasted a year, well a couple actually, I got a lot out of my system and eventually mellowed. Phew, you may be saying but boy did I learn a lot.
As told in my previous article, during the 70’s I was a dancer and so was accustomed to gyrating sexy moves, and flinging myself about flirtatiously, no different today although not so graciously and now there is usually more wine involved. There was never a shortage of gropey old men, wolf whistles and the odd pinched bum. However, we were taught this was part of the game and we protected ourselves in ways I will go into later. All I wanted to do was dance and so steadied my focus on that and my self-dignity Following a BIT OF A DRAMA, my divorce, I did let my hair down a little, actually a lot and maybe played a bit too close to the edge. There were a lot of dates and late nights and shenanigans. (Look it up)
During the Eighties Miss World was still on the TV, nobody was screaming about women being used as sex objects. Glamour sold cars and promoted cigarettes and women; most women knew how to play this game. How we viewed everything so differently. You could wonder, who was pulling the strings.
In 1981, I was asked to form a group of cheerleaders for Luton Town Football Club. I am not a cheerleader I told them. They were not worried; I was told that they wanted a group of pretty girls who could stride out on to the football pitch before a match and wave at the fans. They called it pre-match entertainment, I called it nonsense, but if they paid well who were we to worry. We had nothing else to do on a Saturday afternoon. We were soon turned into micro-celebrities and appearing at events and store openings. We had become promotion girls, were given free tee shirts and never bought a drink.
I was then I decided with a good friend of mine to start a promotion agency and so Peaches Promotions was created, and I entered a bigger environment. Sales and promotions interested me on a professional level and working for larger companies helped me get a taste of a corporate world.
However, we still had to protect our values and I soon learned there was still a dangerous world out there. The gropey old men were wearing different clothes. They were now in smart suits but underneath they still had their brains in,………….. well you know what I am talking about.
I set a few rules for my promotion girls and if you think I sound like a BIT OF a madam, you could be right. My girls were a great team, I valued their sales work and appreciated what they had to face when working in a man’s world. The one thing I learned from them was that they valued themselves and never would allow any vulnerability to peep through. They were always in charge. I learned that women had this greater power. They used their charm and diplomacy to protect themselves from any nonsense. A lot of men were completely unaware of how they were being used. I watched those girls use their charm and sexuality to make the sales and commissions they wanted.
If I thought deeply about the ‘ME TOO’ movement today, which don’t get me wrong, I think women should be open about this and men will eventually catch up and realise. I could think of a few close encounters and not of the Alien kind. Here is one that comes to mind and how it was dealt with. Let me add here that I am not traumatised by it, no gosh or sympathy needed. My mother would be shocked but I am convinced would have handled it in the same way.
The year is 1980. I was invited to a dinner party at a friend’s house and one of the girls from my promotion agency was there with me. My friend who was older and married had invited another married couple to join us. All seemed to be going well apart from the husband whom I shall call Dave, started to show his true colours. Because we were two single girls, he assumed it was ok to use his manner of conversation towards us in a lewdest manner. He thought he was funny and mischievously, we let him carry on, laughing at his lewd jokes intermittently. Later my friend and I went upstairs to use the bathroom, cannot remember why we both went up together. Dave followed us and pushed us into one of the bedrooms. Remember his wife was downstairs so we did not want to make a BIT OF A DRAMA out of his actions. We then decided to play our own game. Pretending we were interested in his advances we convinced him to take off his trousers and lie on the bed. Taking the tie backs from the curtains he allowed us to tie his hands to the bedposts. We then left him there and went back to join the others.
Has anyone seen Dave, my friend asked?
We just shook our heads.
Fortunately, there were two of us. It could have been a different story if it had been only one of us. However, when he finally managed to undo his constraints, he realised what an ass he had been and hardly spoke another word to us.
Perhaps we led him on, but he deserved it. I felt sorry for his wife.
The ‘MeToo’ movement has had a huge impact on society, survivors realised they were not alone. It highlighted sexual harassment and how some woman have been traumatised by the aftermath. I do feel it has been a good thing. I hope we are not in danger of confusing simple flirting with harassment. It has been something humans, both genders have used for years and in some cases resulted in forming relationships and love. I hope we do not go too far that we become scared of being taken the wrong way and giving out the wrong impressions.
I have expressed my concerns for my sons, worrying more about their safety than my daughters when it comes to them forming stable relationships.
A lot of women know how to protect themselves without having to make a mountain out of a molehill. Sometimes it can just be a BIT OF A Drama, which a quick kick in the goolies or a clever innuendo can put an end to the harassment.
Stay safe out there ladies and if you have a story you can share in the comments about how you have survived a ME TOO moment, love to hear it.