Read that again.
Almost every woman has a sexual assault story.
Netflix released the second season of one of its highest grossing series, Sex Education this month. Now if you’re anything like me, you took out a quiet weekend to stay in bed, eat without caring and binge watch the latest season all from the comfort of your home.
This season, Laurie Nunn’s creation was applauded for its breadth in covering a range of sexual issues pertinent to young adults, including vaginismus, asexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality. No stone was unturned for the British comedy series which portrays these topics in a nuanced way.
But one of the most touching story lines this season is that of Aimee (played by Aimee Lee Wood), who is sexually assaulted on a public bus after a man ejaculates on her jeans. Wood tells Glamour mag:
“I think that all women go through some form of micro sexual aggression, We’re often trained to think that’s just normal, that we have to grin and bear it. “Unless it is rape, [many of us] feel like we can’t really talk about it or that we have to take it in our stride and even laugh about it”.
And she is not wrong.
I look around my group of friends, and almost every one of them will tell you that they have been assaulted–whether as an adult or while growing up as a child, particularly as one growing up in Nigeria. In a country where the order of the day is the man leads and the woman follows, many misogynistic habits are formed to the detriment of women.
I don’t think any woman watching Aimee’s storyline on Sex Education will be shocked, particularly the scene in detention, where all the girls recount how they have faced assault at some point. We have all quite literally been there.
Lauren Nunn, the show’s creator actually revealed that Aimee’s story line actually came from her own personal experience. Speaking to Tyla, she says:
“What I wanted to highlight with it is — everything happening in #MeToo, which is fantastic and amazing in dealing with power dynamics — but it’s also just about as female, what it feels like to move through the world and not feel entirely safe. That’s what I wanted to capture.”
Now read that again. Almost every woman has a sexual assault story to tell you. According to the WHO, one in five women will be raped at some point in their lives, in contrast to one in seventy-one men who experience rape. These staggering numbers show, more than ever, to protect our women–at all costs.
The most touching scene from Sex Education is when all the girls band together to help Aimee get rid of her fear of taking the bus. It literally screams solidarity and shows just how wholesome and important female friendships can be.
Sex Education has shown it’s okay to talk about what has happened to you, it’s okay not to understand it because it wasn’t exactly ‘rape’, it’s okay to take time out for yourself to heal and it’s okay to want to shut down completely because of it. As long as you can confide in someone, and get the help that you need.
The world is so unfair to women who just want to co-exist with their male counterparts–and this is not to say men don’t have similar experiences– but centering the conversation on being vocal with your trauma and seeking help is important for many young
So to Aimee, to every woman out there, and to you reading this; we see you, you are loved, you are a person and your feelings are valid. And we will fight for you, sis.
For anyone that is not comfortable reaching out to family and friends, here are some hotlines and organisations in Nigeria you can reach out to for help:
Stand to End Rape (S.T.E.R.) Initiative: 08168967217; 08130320270
Domestic Several and Violence Response Team: 08137960048; 112; 6820
Mirabel Center Lagos: 08187243468, 08155770000