Content warning: This piece discusses sexual assault, r*pe and violence against women.
Dear Catholic All Boys Schools,
We both knew this conversation was coming. For a long time, I think.
You see, I laughed at that video of St Kevin’s boys shouting abuse on a tram. I found it funny. My housemate and I giggled about the poor rhyming and ingrained misogyny and the outrage so many people seemed to find anew. It was not at all new to me. I learnt about all this long ago.
Maybe I learnt of it the other day, when a Catholic school boy told me he had a kink for redheads.
Maybe I learnt of it when I was 14 and three boys from Catholic same-sex schools followed me down the street shouting the lyrics to ‘Ring of Fire’.
Maybe it was when they added a chant of their own.
Maybe I learnt of it when I first heard of my friend’s sexual assault.
Maybe it was when I was 15 and a Catholic school boy told us he assaulted a girl because North Melbourne lost the footy.
Maybe it was when I was 16 and groped at a gig by yet another Catholic school boy.
Maybe it was when 2 Catholic school boys blocked my entrance to a train door.
Maybe it was when I was 16 and another friend told me she was raped by yet another Catholic school boy.
Or maybe it was as early as three years old. My brother’s friends came over – all high school age Catholic school boys – and they told me I was a princess. They offered to brush my hair and they promised to protect me. They played with me and tried to make me laugh in a game of silly faces while they told my brother the story of Last Night’s Party.
At Last Night’s Party they fucked a girl because she dressed like she wanted it. They scored. They smashed it. They hit a home fucking run.
And I was three years old, giggling and smiling at young Eric poking out his tongue.
Yes, maybe that’s when I learnt of it. And I’m sure I will keep learning it. I’ll keep learning that if we never teach men consent, they’ll never ask for it. I’ll keep learning that 1 in 3 women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime and mine won’t be the generation to put a stop to it. I’ll keep learning that there is no revelation to have, except maybe this:
Dear Catholic School Boys,
I’m onto you.
I know your fucking game.
I will never let you win.
If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available. In Australia:
Lifeline – 13 11 14
Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800
Beyondblue – 1300 22 4636
1800RESPECT – 1800 737 732
Find other support services in your country here.