The West

Bogan abuse column touches nerve

I didn't really sleep very well on Wednesday night.

I knew the column I wrote about the verbal abuse I suffered at the hands of a car-full of men in the city a couple of weeks ago was being published yesterday and I was worried about the reaction it would provoke.

I was half-expecting all the rats to come out of the woodwork - nasty comments on Twitter and "toughen up, princess" emails.

But that wasn't the case.

READ PIP'S ORIGINAL COLUMN - WOMEN ARE FAIR GAME IN PERTH

From the moment I woke up, the phone started ringing (radio stations wanting me to elaborate on the incident) and the messages of support and outrage just kept coming via tweets, emails and Facebook.

Some of these messages were from friends. Others were from remote professional acquaintances. But more were from people I had never met.

Fellow journalists contacted me about similar incidents they had experienced. Mothers wrote to say they hoped their boys never grew up to be like these men.

Older men left messages expressing dismay and sadness at a younger generation who felt such behaviour was acceptable. Clearly I had touched a nerve.

Different parts of my story resonated with different people.

Some took up my observation that social media encouraged a culture of instantaneous judgment and verbal bullying.

Others simply congratulated me on having the courage to publicly admit to what had been a humiliating and truly unnerving experience.

The slow and progressive erosion of a woman's right to be in a public space without being harassed, abused or threatened has happened while most of us have been looking the other way.

We are so immersed - men and women alike - in this retrograde culture of skimpy pop stars and boob-flashing Instagrammers that we don't realise that basic respect for women is like a rug that's been pulled out from beneath our feet without us really noticing.

We tend to think that erosion of liberty is something that happens in other countries, other cultures - not here in Perth.

As the saying goes, let the haters hate.

I will never let them get to me again.

The West Australian

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