Mrs #MeToo

After he read a twitter thread on sexual assault, one of my friends asked me if anything like that has ever happened to me. I laughed it off, because you know…. OF COURSE NOT MATE.
Then I found myself making excuses for the guys who had harassed and assaulted me in the past. I actually heard the words “but you know he didn’t mean it like that” come out of my mouth. A few short months ago I was one of those women who found the lines between someone fancying you and sexual harassment a bit blurry, is it assault or is he just expressing his attraction? I truly didn’t know the difference and THAT is a problem. It was difficult to admit but I realised that I am (or at least was) part of the problem.


My first instance of unwanted sexual attention was in one of my first ever jobs. Let me set the scene: I was in my second year at uni and working part-time in a hotel (can you guess what is going to happen?)
It was a posh hotel and I was actually part of the casual waiting staff. For those that don’t know ‘casual waiting staff’ means a zero hour contract, mostly event work and super flexible hours but none of the perks of being a ‘real’ employee.
Anywho; this one summer the hotel was particularly busy, I was assigned to work for a wealthy family who had booked up 2 entire floors for two weeks. One of the hotel rooms was converted into a buffet-come-dining area. Over the course of the 2nd week working in this room one of the guests became a problem. I mean at first it was a random hug (which felt odd) or a ‘friendly shoulder rub’ but it soon turned into him saying lewd things and ultimately ended in him exposing himself to me and me leaving the job. Why didn’t I say anything? (I hear you ask) Well I did. To my line manager, to the other hotel staff. To him. The weirdest thing was that not only was this kinda of behaviour trivialised, it felt as if it was almost expected. When I complained to the head of my department I was told that I was under no obligation to stay in my position, after all I was technically on a zero-hour contract. And what did Yinka do? She quietly quit and felt like an idiot.


CASA Forum defines sexual assault as any behaviour of a sexual nature that makes someone feel uncomfortable, frightened, intimidated or threatened. It is sexual behaviour that someone has not agreed to, where another person uses physical or emotional force against them.
When I read this my mind was blown (BOOM!!!)
It was like flicking through one of those picture books! Through my mind was a carousel of the multiple times this has happened to me. It kinda made me feel sick. I felt like the whole of my life I was taught that this kind of behaviour was normal, think about it; you’re in the playground and a boy lifts up your school skirt… It starts then and ends up (for me) with being at work and a hairdresser ‘fixing’ my hair whilst breathing on my neck and telling me I smell nice.

I am not gonna get all historical on you and tell you every single time I have been been made to feel uncomfortable by members of the opposite sex, we don’t have all day. If I think back to the initial conversation that prompted this blogpost; I can easily recall 3 instances in the last 4 months where I have been touched without my consent and that just isn’t ok.


My fear when I began writing this, was that it would become a rant about how ‘men are trash’ and how shit they make me feel but I really don’t want to focus on that. I want to focus on what I can do to stop this. What I don’t want to do is put the onus on women and women alone to find a solution.  Do I know why this thing continues to happen to women? No. But I suspect it has something to do with education (think back to the playground) and this weird ownership a lot of men seem to think they have over our bodies.

I have realised that the way to combat this isn’t to change what I wear or to stop going out. That kinda gives an excuse don’t you think? Puts the blame and the shame on the woman. I am so sick and tired of this ‘short skirt so she is asking for trouble’ rhetoric. I mentioned it before but we have HAVE to teach our young boys that a woman’s body belongs to her and MEN need to understand that the ‘boys will be boys’ line never did and more importantly now: no-longer flies.

Do I regret leaving my job shamed and feeling like an idiot? Of course, do I wish I had spoken up the numerous times guys have grabbed me and pushed me and rubbed me? Hell yeah. In the summer I was THIS (very) close to tweeting an athlete who sexually assaulted me whilst I was DJing at a party but even then I felt stupid. Its not like he reaaaaly assaulted me is it? He didn’t put his hand up my skirt or try to undress me so I guess its not that bad right?


I have realised something very important recently: I used to think that if I dressed a certain way (and lets be honest I do kiiiinda dress in the way I’m talking about, its ok you can be honest). Well I thought that I was asking for it, that the size of my boobs somehow invited this behaviour and you know what I realise now? Regardless of what I wear, how I carry myself, where I work and every other excuse I can give; it isn’t my fault, and it isn’t the fault of any woman who has experienced behaviour like this.
And if it truly doesn’t make a difference what I do (and we all know it doesn’t) then why should I change? Why should I cover up just to not tempt someone? Think about how disgusting that is. Is there so little control or respect that you can’t refrain from touching someone because you see some of their flesh? I know things could be worse for me, I am so much more aware of it when reading all of these stories that have surfaced online over the past few weeks, you can truly see how deep this issue runs. And it’s terrifying.

Taking these pics (with my amazing sister behind the camera) was like a celebration for me, a celebration of being a young black woman who doesn’t plan on quietening down or being any less sexy to pacify anybody. And that is what I want this post to be about: I am Yinka Bokinni, I am sassy-as-hell and proud tbh so hi x

Let me know your thoughts by dropping a comment below ❤
Thank you for reading x

 

23 Comments Add yours

  1. Pipp says:

    this is so well written and also so sad to read as well, as you know i follow you and to think how you’re made to feel uncomfortable at work when all you want to do is be successful
    thank you for sharing and also well done on not naming and shaming the bastards who make you feel this way, its super classy
    Keep shining Yinka x

  2. Nush says:

    Powerful! I couldn’t agree with you more, we shouldn’t have to cover up. I have experienced all these things but have been too nice and given men the benefit of the doubt… it needs to stop and I need to change as well.

    Love the honesty girl! Keep it coming 🙂

    Nush xxx

  3. kelloggs16 says:

    I love how the patriarchal society is cracking. I wrote a long paragraph and it got deleted when I had to log in, so I just want to say I thank you for being so open about your journey and growth over the years. As beautiful, radiant, and compassionate as you are, when we meet for the first time (claiming it because I’m an artist myself!) I’ll be sure to extend my hand for a handshake instead of a hug (unless invited by you). These simple steps, can help shine a light on the bullshit that is men not being able to control their urges. As a black man who loves and appreciates women strongly, I know that there are ways to take in beauty without making the woman feel uncomfortable. Continue to shine a light on these issues of sexual abuse, we are listening and learning and defending our women more than ever.

  4. Kels says:

    You proper don’t understand how amazing you are
    Every time i read your posts i am so amazed by how humble and together you are
    The fact that you’re desireable is no excuse for the way guys act and they should be ashamed

  5. Mellissa says:

    WELL SHE SAID IT AND IT WAS FABULOUS

  6. Steven Wilkinson says:

    Well done Yinka! I feel ashamed on behalf of men who take liberties like you have experienced. I would never dream of behaving this way to anyone so how they think they can do these things is beyond me. These sort of people are the tiny minority and need exposing. Stay who you are and dress how you like. Dont ever pander to inadequates! X

  7. Eunice says:

    I Yink she is right, it is something we teach girls and boys and that is all kinds of trash

  8. Roch says:

    Super touched by this (and a few of your other blog posts too) I find it both uplifting and heartbreaking to read this but I feel this type of confidence and willingness to share is exactly what’s needed. I am expecting a daughter soon and am still in my ‘young & sassy’ age of 24.. I and many other females around me have been made to feel uncomfortable and vulnerable on so many occasions and we too have casually excused this behaviour. Most recently on a bus I silently excused myself from what I was sure was someone with predator type tendencies. However when I think of my younger sisters, other women or my own expectant daughter having to experience this casual, excused and accepted sort of behaviour it makes me sick and also deeply terrified.

    I too believe it’s time we are all more vocal and agree that these young men need to be taught that our bodies are our own!

    Thankyou yinka you beautiful soul! x

  9. Roch says:

    Super touched by this (and a few of your other blog posts too) I find it both uplifting and heartbreaking to read this but I feel this type of confidence and willingness to share is exactly what’s needed. I am expecting a daughter soon and am still in my ‘young & sassy’ age of 24.. I and many other females around me have been made to feel uncomfortable and vulnerable on so many occasions and we too have casually excused this behaviour. Most recently on a bus I silently excused myself from what I was sure was someone with predator type tendencies. However when I think of my younger sisters, other women or my own expectant daughter having to experience this casual, excused and accepted sort of behaviour it makes me sick and also deeply terrified.

    I too believe it’s time we are all more vocal and agree that these young men need to be taught that our bodies are our own!

    Thankyou yinka you beautiful soul! x

  10. Richard says:

    of course you look amazing in the pictures but regardless of what you wear your body belongs to you and you alone
    well written superstar

  11. Freddie says:

    Am i the only one who thinks Yinka should be doing documataries on some of the things she posts about, her name, her hair and now this?
    come on BBC, Channel 4 dont miss a good thing

  12. clovis says:

    I agree that what a woman wears probably doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things; for example, countries where women dress more modestly (more religious places) probably have the same rape/sexual assult stats as here in the UK. And yeah, more women should speak up about their experiences so it’s taken more seriously. The thing is as well is that even the men who trivialise it know it’s wrong because if that was their sister/girlfriend etc, they’d cut the guys fingers off.

  13. Tyrell says:

    youre such a beautiful soul inside and out it is as if you are actually from heaven i dunno

  14. Jem latishè says:

    Thank you.
    Just thank you, too many women are silent in their thoughts and feelings, always doubting or believing they are in the wrong when they are not, its true socialty schooling systems have alot to do with this gray area of harrasment. So im glad you shared your story .
    Stay strong, stay powerful and continue to inspire.

  15. Favour says:

    This is really beautiful and well-articulated. You’re so beautiful. Keep being you!

  16. AJW says:

    This is awesome, in every way. Thanks for sharing x

  17. Yinka's crush says:

    Good write up Yinks, I’m a guy, and a reasonable amount of times, girls have touched me without my contest, laps especially, and even with some part of their skins that makes me feel funny but without my consent. Don’t you think this is not only about boys, sexual assault is not gender biased it happens to all, we should teach out young girls the same thing we teach our girls “Respect boundaries”.

  18. scottkorbin says:

    Well said Yinka. Abuse comes in many forms, from both genders, and from strangers, vendors, customers, co-workers, bosses, friends, trusted spiritual advisors. and worst of all, family. I commend you for coming out about it. It took me until my late 20s to share my experiences with my loving wife. I hope that you can help others who have been otherwise too fearful to express themselves.

  19. Patty says:

    Excellently written, Ms. Bokinni It begins with education, and we do have to start young and by example. More women/men have to speak up so that our children will realize it is safe to speak up; their right to speak up. What you wear doesn’t cause the sexual misconduct, it is what the aggressor feels is acceptable. Clearly, too many years of unpunished abuse has caused, almost, a numbness within society. For far too long the “boys will be boys” excuse has been thrown out there as if it really means something. Girls will be girls and we say, keep your hands and comments to yourselves! My 1st encounter was at age 10 in the park in front of my summer friends as we chose sides for kickball at the playground. People said, oh it was innocent. No, it was not! This “innocent” comment sent this outgoing girl inward. I was so totally embarrassed, especially when he repeated the gesture in the hallway, in front of both 5th-grade classes, when we returned to school in autumn. It was mean-spirited. And Robert Jeffrey’s actions were to pump up his ego. He was a scrawny kid and needed the ego boost. A lesson here – he had 3 older brothers from whom he learned this behavior was ‘normal’. At 16 a guy tried to jump me in the school parking lot after the spring, school dance. Thank the Goddess I was able to outrun him. The summer of my 16th year I worked as a housekeeper for a large hotel chain where men lay in wait for the maids to walk in, unsuspecting. I can only call them sick men, naked, exposed and masturbating. Hotel security was called but other than being asked to leave the hotel, nothing was done to prosecute these perverts. But, the biggest American abuser? The military, hands down. This does not apply to men alone, (although I would say 98% men to 2% women). I could write a book on sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, sexual abuse. It still runs rampant, uncontrolled and nothing is done. Try as we might, I do not see that changing in my limited lifetime. I hope and pray my grandbabies will be free of this hedonistic, narcissistic, decadent behavior. I NEVER want them to experience one smidgen of sexual misconduct. I never want any child to become introverted as a result of some unfeeling, uneducated idiot, who cannot keep lewd remarks from spewing forth nor his/her hands from going where they do not belong. There is so much in life that can hurt and disappoint. Harassment of any nature should not be on that list! I am sorry for going on so. Your post seemed to touch home somehow. Thank you for allowing me this forum. PS … Your sister is a wonderful photographer. Your photographs are striking. Slainte!

  20. Tosin says:

    Love it.. the fact that she highlights we don’t really know the definition… then goes into her own personal experiences… educating!100% accurate👌🏾great read very well written.

  21. Marx says:

    Very well written and sensibly put. The issues which young women have to face as has become more apparent, is definately not on. I think the fight for black men specifically, should be to try to avoid this folly. Our fight is big enough as it is, and if we ever hope to win any of our battles, we need our women on our side. Let’s constantly remind our women that they are black first and women second treating them with the respect they deserve!

    Ps. Yinka, perhaps you should highlight what you see as acceptable, borderline and totally out of order. Some men genuinely do not the difference and may be in need of a crash course.

  22. Chamqueen says:

    Sorry about what you’ve gone through but also thankyou.
    You’ve helped me clarify incidents that I’ve been in.
    And I’m only 16. Thankyou Yinka ❤️

  23. Positive solutions says:

    Well, excuse my english. I think that sex is one kind of communication between human beings and any communication is subject at misunderstanding, maybe a man don’t understand if a woman likes or not his advances, or thinks that a halfnaked woman does so because is searching for men. If that is wrong, maybe it is, we can establish a written sextiquette, teaching it at school, and make things clear once for all, so life will be easier for men and women.

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