I once gigged in another country. The promoter picked us up at the airport and drove us 4.5 hours to a small town, where the gigs took place. The second night, he got creepy. He was sort of drunk and touchy. At one point, he took me to one side and tried to hug me. (1/)
I like hugs, I’m okay with hugs. But this was not one of those hugs, because he wouldn’t have needed to take me to one side, away from the other comedians, to do that. (2/)
Even though I was nervous to do so (this man had to drive us for 4.5 hours the NEXT DAY), I said, ‘Please, don’t touch me.’

I tried saying it in a ‘light’ way. Firm but lighthearted. As to not create a scene or to make him feel uncomfortable. (3/)
But his eyes went dark. I think a lot of women have recognise this moment - when you say no to a man and it ignites their anger. I’ve definitely seen it before.

He said in a really low and threatening tone, ‘I will touch you if I want to touch you.’ (4/)
And then he hugged me tightly. I didn’t hug him back, I was frozen. We were in the middle of nowhere in another country and he was my only ride to the airport.

I managed to get out of there. But later, I ran into him with a bunch of (male) comedians. (5/)
He made a big show of saying, ‘Ha ha, Sofie told me not to touch her, as if I’m some kind of creep, ha ha.’ and everyone looked at me. Today I would like to think I would have said something. Like ‘Yeah, you don’t fucking touch someone without their consent!’ (6/)
But I didn’t know any of them. I was fairly new to comedy. I was in a country I didn’t know and I didn’t speak the language. He was my only ride home. And everyone was looking at me. So I fake-chuckled. To ease the tension. (7/)
The next day I told the comedian who was thankfully going to ride in the same car as me to the airport. He shrugged and said something like, ‘Yeah, he’s a bit weird but it’s not a big deal.’

And it ISN’T, you know? To a lot of men, it wouldn’t be. (8/)
It’s hard to explain how it feels when a man (in a position of power) tells you that he will cross your boundaries if he wants to. When he touches you against your will. When you feel unsafe, in another country. (9/)
It’s so easy to spin this as ‘oh boohoo someone tried to hug her and she got super dramatic about it’.

Which is why I’m not naming names, publically. Because what’s my accusation? I’d be told that I misunderstood the situation, that he was joking, that I am overreacting. (10/)
Once a cab driver threatened to assault me. He was making hints, alluding to it being ‘in my best interest’ whilst driving slower and slower and taking a route I didn’t know. But he never SAID ‘I will rape you’. They rarely say it. (11/)
I went to the police (lol) and they said, ‘We can’t arrest someone for being a creep.’ and well OF COURSE NOT. Because nothing HAPPENED.

And nothing happened at that gig either. But in both situations, I felt threatened and unsafe. (12/)
Because it’s all so fucking invisible. The power dynamics, the manipulation, the context: that most women have been raped and most men have been socialised to ‘take what they want’. The fact that once a stranger ignores one ‘no’, you don’t know at which ‘no’ they’ll stop. (13/)
What I am saying with this is: I have many more stories. Waking up to a naked comedian on top of me and kicking him off me. Having to save a 16 year old girl from a 30 year old comedian who was pressuring her into ‘giving him her virginity’. (14/)
And I know that many other comedians also have many other stories - but most of us don’t have evidence. A lot of these stories are about the invisible threat, about having to find ways to be safe around certain people. (15/)
A lot of it is knowing that more would have happened if you hadn’t been lucky, sneaky or saved by someone else.

Like the time I was going to sleep at the flat of a promoter and a female comedian (who wasn’t even on the bill) took me to her house instead. (16/)
So what you are seeing, with these comedians being outed, is the tip of the ice berg. We might not hear about the ones that have already threatened people with lawyers. The ones that cleverly never put anything in writing. (17/)
The ones that still have a hold on their victims.

You might not hear from victims who felt complicit, who were gaslighted into thinking it was their fault. From those of us who know that the consequences for you will be so much worse than the consequences for them. (18/)
As long as the police, the legal system, YOUR OWN INDUSTRY, social media platforms, your male colleagues, your family and friends and strangers on the internet are all more likely to take the side of the abuser, you can’t expect women to always speak out.
The ones that have: I fucking love you. I am in awe of you. I believe you. ♥️
You can follow @SofieHagen.
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