Vandalised yoga studio window
Men still have everything to say about their sexuality, entitling them to destroy the female beast that burdens and haunts them. ‘Sex cops’ are guys that refer to a woman’s sex life as though it’s their business.
Commonly played out in the break up with sex cop men, the sex cop man’s fear and resentment of being “taken” by the woman, of being lost, absorbed, or alone is much like Goyte’s ‘Somebody That I Use to Know’ where the forlorn man is celebrated. “She was so happy she could die”, as he “felt lonely in her company” as that was love and “an ache” he still remembers.
The female in this story is given a brief voice, mentioning “all the times you screwed me over”, “always believing” it was something that she had done. Sound familiar? There is no sympathy for the female, laid bare, stripped of her own heartbreak. The attention is focused on the male’s experience in the relationship and actions the woman took out on him. This is a common attitude in society that is for the most part left unquestioned. This guy has the foundations for being a perverse sex cop male.
A recent incident led me to write this article and lay out my own experience with a sex cop male. While the offenders would prefer I feel ashamed and silent about these events, I believe that in speaking up it minimises their impact on me, liberates my own feelings of shame and might inspire others in a similar situation.
In January 2015, mid-morning, I was riding home from a gig that ended at a guy’s house the night before. Stopped at the red light leading onto Sydney Road were two ex-boyfriends of mine standing side by side. Both had been there in the band room the night before as I stood near the front with my new guy. And here we all were again, two exes, who previously loathed each another, and me, across the road.
The case of them now being pals was understood immediately, their bodies leaning in to each another: homoerotic, foreboding. Two pairs of eyes locked on to me in a fixed stare.
One was a recent lover and the other from a few years back. The latter has made himself a fixture at most of my friends’ gigs, a presence I endure but wish would go away. His unwanted presence has become an almost weekly experience.
The fact they were together and speaking shocked me.
My initial thought was “What the fuck?”. That the depths of ManB’s vengefulness in the breakup had potentially led us all to be here was somewhat grotesquely understood .
They crossed the street and surrounded me, ManA at the front of my bike and ManB to the left. They said I wasn’t going anywhere and they wanted to have it out with me. Whatever they had discussed together it seemed they had agreed they stood to gain something. Both knew through my shared confidence in them during our relationships that I had once been an exotic dance. ManB knew I’d had a secret abortion when I was with ManA and both knew I was in the early stages of opening up a local yoga studio.
And here they were, pack-mentality, standing around me. I moved myself and my bike onto the busy sidewalk as ManB held onto my bike and they both began to abuse and verbally shame me. Accusations like “How did you get the money to open a yoga studio?”, “You’re a call girl “, “I’m glad the baby’s dead because it’s half you.”
I asked an older lady to help me. She said “tell them to go away” at which they said “No one wants to help you, you deserve this”. In broad daylight and not a single person stopped to help me. It was only when I was able to release my bike from ManB’s clutches that I could get away from them.
A day later I had graffiti on my studio window. The photo is taken by my dear friend Alistair, an immense support through this and other times.
I had a protective order taken out against both guys. Protective orders are much more commonly women seeking protection from men. In my own experience attending courts for this matter I noted an all-female crowd pushed into the wing section looking out as men strutted around the open floor with bravado and superiority. The small number of cases I heard were littered with terrified women and dangerous men.
Even on the day of the court case, ManA and his female friend sat laughing and smirking in my direction. What’s the laughing and smirking about? “We’re top shit we know what’s going on.” It was what he was like in the relationship.
Since going public with this story I have had many women tell me stories of being sex workers. My response is this: prostitution, exotic dancing, or any profession in this industry is legitimate work. Don’t feel ashamed.
As a yoga teacher, I want to add that identity of women is strong in themselves and yoga can help strengthen this relationship. Similar to feminism is the self-actualisation found in yoga. It celebrates difference, not competition; we’re not building towards one gain over another.
I want to leave you with these wise words of feminist Helene Cixous.
It is time to liberate the New Woman from the Old by coming to know her - by loving her. For getting by, for all our complexities, for getting beyond the Old without delay, by going out ahead of what the New Woman will be.
We the precocious, we the repressed of culture, our lovely mouths gagged with pollen, our wind knocked out of us, we the labyrinths, the ladders, the trampled spaces, the bevies - we are black and we are beautiful.
– The Laugh of The Medusa, Helene Cixous
Jessie Alice is founder of The Yoga Club Org, Owner of Common Grounds Studio and Alternative Walking Tours in Melbourne. Bringing live music to yoga since 2013.