Yesterday was a warm day here so I wore a mid length blue cotton dress. Nothing special, I think it cost about $10 from Best and Less 5 years ago. I spent the whole day in this dress. Cleaned my bathroom and house in it. Played outside with the kids and dogs in it.
I’m hoping that right now you’re getting the picture that this insignificant piece of clothing is significant to this post.
Last night while he was settling into bed Mr S, my husband, turned and said to me, quite proud of himself, “Did you notice, you wore that blue dress all day and I didn’t try to grope you once.” My incredulous reply was that this should actually be something that was normal instead of something he should be searching for brownie points for.
My husband is an amazing man, truly. He adores the kids- they need for nothing (there is a difference between want and need), he works hard, and he’s actively involved in parenting and our marriage. I know that he meant no disrespect in what he said, that he saw absolutely nothing wrong with his comment or he would not have said it. And it’s this naivete and the fact that he feels a need to point out his lack of touching that bothers me.
There has always been one issue in our relationship that my adoring husband has never understood- the simple fact that as my partner he is not now or ever entitled to grab my person or alter articles of my clothing so he can see what I’m wearing underneath.
This to me is something that is a basic show of respect for ANY person. You do not grab/ attempt to touch their breasts or genitalia simply because you have an urge, and you do not pull down/out/up their clothing so you can see what style and colour their underwear is. EVER.
This behaviour is something that has always been a sticking point in my relationship. For all his ability to understand mechanics and technology, Mr S has never understood why he, as my husband and partner, can not simply touch these areas on me when he wants. And he has on many occasions pointed out that I am welcome to touch him whenever I want. I’m am all for the casual caress of my arm, back, leg, neck, face, and returning these touches. I am NOT ok with a hug turning into stopping hands sliding down my shorts for a touch because he wants it to get through the day. I am NOT ok with my dress or shorts being pulled up/out so he can see what colour/style my underwear is. If the children are absent/asleep and we’re spending that time intimately, than yes, we’ll both touch, caress and remove clothing, but always with the others consent, NEVER just because I have an urge and can’t control it.
Someone reading this might think I’m putting too much stock on this issue. It’s just a touch or quick look done by my husband right? Not some random stranger or a mate taking things too far. He’s my husband and as his wife I should be fine with him doing this, yeah? NO.
We’re raising a boy and girl in an age where we still place the blame for rape and unwanted behaviour on the victim, not the person who committed the act, and I need to make sure that any lesson regarding respect and boundaries starts at home.
13 years ago I was raped by an acquaintance in my own home. I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. We’d been drinking, a lot, and when I said NO he told me what did I think was going to happen when he came over with the alcohol. During the event it didn’t matter how many times I said “No, stop, I don’t want to do this” I was told “Babe, you know you want this, relax.”. I never reported it, I didn’t want to be told by anyone that it was my own fault for drinking so much. Or I’d led him on by inviting him over for an afternoon drink. After that I promised myself I would never be at the mercy of another person again. I would never allow anyone the chance to take my agency from me, no matter what my relationship was with them. My husband is very aware of what occurred, I told him at the start of our relationship so that he went into it with eyes open.
Obviously this part of my life impacts, in part, how I raise my kids. I want both of my children to know that no matter who the person is, whether it’s their parent, husband/wife, partner, boyfriend/girlfriend, friend, or some random stranger that they never have to be ok with someone touching them. That it is NEVER anyone’s right to touch them regardless of their relationship with them.
I want my husband to REMEMBER that our relationship does not mean he automatically gets to do what he wants with my body. That my body is my own and no liberty is granted to him simply because we love each other. We both deserve far more respect than that.
I want my daughter to know that if she wears a blue cotton, mid-thigh, dress all day that she shouldn’t have to give out praise because her partner kept his hands to himself. That no matter what she wears she should expect to be treated with respect. It makes me rage to know that I also have to tell her that this won’t always be the case.
I want my son to know that no matter what a female wears he should never view it as something to be proud of for having kept his hands to himself. He shouldn’t be given praise for respecting the physical boundaries of another person, and for that matter neither should my daughter.
I refuse to normalise behaviour which makes respecting physical boundaries something that deserves praise. I refuse to allow moments and comments that have the potential to make this behaviour appear ok go by without correction. And I refuse to give praise for something which is a basic human right.