It’s a situation many women, unfortunately, know all too well: being on the receiving end of cat-calls, unwanted touches and even assault. Now, model Jessica Leahy is opening up about the time she was groped on a subway train in Australia, and why she did nothing about it.
In a moving post for With Her In Mind, the Australian model recalled a time when “a stranger forced his hand up my shirt and grabbed at my ‘p—-‘ ” on a train. She noted that she rushed out of the subway car as soon as the doors opened.
“Perhaps more shocking was the fact that I did nothing,” she wrote. “I made no attempt to attract attention, I had no desire to make a fuss … Why? Because of our cultural obsession with raising girls to be ‘good.’ ”
Leahy lamented the good-girl trope, writing that raising girls to be “nice,” passive women — especially in situations with men — could result in harm.
“From birth, we are told not to be rude, or bossy, or difficult and above all, not to be a bitch,” she wrote. “And it’s obsession with ‘being nice’ that is getting good girls into bad trouble.”
She also recalled a recent incident in which a man made a sexual gesture toward her as he drove down a busy freeway.
“It’s been a few days since this disturbing incident, but I can’t let the rage go,” she continued. “He is guilty of sexually harassing a complete stranger and that’s not okay.”
She ended her post with a call to action: “We need to change the way we raise boys.”
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“I know not all men are handsy-creeps but there are some members of their sex severely letting the team down,” Leahy wrote. “Too many men are silent bystanders to sexual harassment which is too often seen as a women’s issue, when it’s clearly a human issue.”
Leahy has long championed social issues, including body positivity. In 2015, she and other models started the #ProjectWomanKIND web series, in which they challenge harmful beauty standards.