One Netflix Day:
I was just scrolling around Netflix, finding the perfect show to watch until I stumble upon Sex Education. Not going to lie; the title caught my attention. I became curious, and to my surprise, the show was educational, relatable, and unique.
“It’s just a stupid bus.” That iconic line from Sex Education is simple yet powerful. I still remember hearing that line on that particular scene; instead of triggering an unfortunate event, it gave me so much comfort.
Behind that line is the story of Aimee, who was once sexually assaulted on the bus. Traumatized by the event, she tells her best friend, Maeve, about it. But before that iconic stupid bus scene was another scene that led to it.
In episode 7 of Sex Education’s season 2, Aimee, Maeve, Ola, Lily, Olivia, and Viv got detention at school. For their punishment, they need to create a presentation about what binds them as a woman. At first, they talked about fashion, shopping and other things that could be common to them as a woman. Until Aimee, who quietly reminisced about her harassment experience, cried and shouted to Maeve and Ola, who were arguing. After that, the girls started to talk about their harassment stories, which answered their detention question.
The following day, Aimee was surprised by the girls at the bus stop. Clueless, she asked them why they were waiting for her. To they simply answered, to get on the bus. As the girls were about to enter the bus, Aimee took the time to ride it again. With Maeve’s reassurance, she told Aimee, “It’s just a stupid bus.” With the help of the girls, Aimee managed to ride the bus without fear and judgment.
That episode from Sex Education lives in my mind rent-free. Usually, when shows are tackling sexual harassment, it triggers me. It fears me and makes me remember what happened. But Sex Education gave me support with that particular scene. It’s painfully relatable yet very empowering with the female solidarity shown.
Aimee’s experience mirrors every girl’s real-life experience, and I am one of them. I still remember when I was on my way home from school, I got on the bus. I was feeling safe at that time because my previous harassment experience was very long ago. It somehow assured me that I would be okay. But I was wrong. I was never safe. A man was touching and fondling my thighs for almost an hour. I couldn’t move that time. Even though I want to fight back, I just can’t. Maybe it became an initial response to repeated trauma.
By the time he got off the bus, I was holding back my tears. I got off the bus and processing what just happened. I was heading home, shaking and crying in front of my mom.
At first, I didn’t know what to do after that traumatizing event. It was hard for me to get on the bus. I always need a friend’s company to go to school and to go home as well. I never asked for comfort because I was afraid to ask. I am not someone who always opens up about an experience, but when I watched that episode, I talked it out with my friends, and I felt okay. I was just opening
up, but I felt like something heavy got off from my chest. To be honest, there’s still fear and anxiety within me with buses or just by commuting, but with the help of Sex Education and my female friends’ encouragement, I felt better. I was not alone.
The Sad Reality:
There’s no denying that women experience harassment more in our society. Even Viv mentioned in the detention scene that 2/3 of women would experience unwanted sexual attention or contact in public spaces before they reach 21 years old. It’s not just a dialogue created by the scriptwriters, but it’s a fact. According to a survey by Plan International UK, two-thirds of young women and girls have experienced unwanted sexual attention or harassment in a public place. And 35 percent of those said that it happened while they were wearing school uniforms. Overall, many said that they just don’t feel safe in public places alone.
Even in our country, the Philippines, harassment is rampant, and the numbers can’t lie. According to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey last 2015, three out five have experienced sexual harassment at least once in their lifetime. The three out five might be one of your friends or even you, and you’re just not aware of it.
This is the sad reality women face today. We have lost track of how many times we have experienced assault and harassment because, by now, it became a part of our everyday experience. Women are still harassed in this society, and that’s why fear became normal, and I feel like men will never understand it. It’s sad that it became part of a women’s routine when in the first place, it should never be.
It’s infuriating to think that commuting became a fearful thing for us. Wearing shorts is something we need to think twice. And being a woman, wandering alone in a public place isn’t a safe thing to do. When in fact, we should be free to do these things. Even society tells us to adjust and think of what we should wear! It’s like a loop and tiring process of explaining, but what can we do?
The painful reality is that it’s not easy being a woman in a male-dominated society. Wandering off in a public place is something men can easily do, but women can’t. Many of us still live in fear every day, but this should be a call for action and not let this issue pass. Because even though there are women like Maeve who’s valiant to talk about this kind of experience, there are still a lot of Aimee who’s scared to ride a stupid bus.