When I turned 18 I returned to Perth from a six month stint in Melbourne and landed a job at The Cottesloe Beach Hotel.
I was rapt, it was such a cool job to get pouring beers behind the bar, working with 200 other staff of a similar age, having fun, drinking, meeting new people.
I had dropped out of high school at 15 so it was sort of like a whole summer of the high school or leavers that I had missed out on.
To make matters even better I had just lost a whole lot of the puppy fat that ruined my teenage years, to put it bluntly I was pretty dam hot.
The minute I stepped foot behind that bar I was “bagsed” by the men, a little like vultures, a DJ told me I was his new number 1. I had no idea what he meant. The promo manager asked me to come into the toilets with him and his friends, to this day I don’t know if he wanted to do lines of coke or have an orgy. And so on and so on.
There was a bet as to who would be the first guy to “land” and like the kitten to the cream I fell for it all.
I had had limited sexual experience, I was a big binge drinker and most of all I wasn’t used to this kind of attention, of course, I loved it.
The reason I’m writing this blog is because to this day, 13 years later I still feel a dark cloud of anger when I think of that summer and that hotel. For a long time it was shame but now just anger.
You see over the course of 8 months I slept with 4 of my work mates, *cringe factor* I even gave them hickies, why did I do that? Like leaving my mark on them or something- how embarrassing. 1 DJ, 1 fellow bar attendant, 1 supervisor and 1 manager.
None of them had girlfriends so what’s with the shame? I can guarantee that the guys I banged had banged many more then 4 of the girls there…
I seemed to be loved by all but 1. The big boss, to be blunt, he was a loser, dry, flat and mean with a serious dislike for me. Let’s call him Waz cos that was his name.
My first concur was the supervisor, I thought I loved him. Turned out after a lengthy pursuit and a short relationship he didn’t feel the same, on NYE I walked out the back to be confronted by him pashing someone else.
Then there was the red headed DJ, I thought he was so cool, he thought he was so cool. He was constantly chatting me up, telling me how hot I was, making future plans, calling me. I hesitated, because I had already banged the supervisor and I didn’t want a “reputation” but the red headed DJ convinced me this was different and of course I started to envision our future together.. This guy really wanted to shag me and I really wanted to make him happy. So I did, stayed over and drove home in the morning, planning the wedding.
Wait what? I never heard from him again? Whaaaaaat? When he finished a set of DJing if I was working Id wait anxiously for my kiss goodbye but waaaaat? He would actually literally run to the door, which was strange watch a grown run away from me. Oh well shit happens.
The bar attendant was ok, no promises, no expectations just 2 mates bored and drunk.
And the bar manager was my flat mate, after trying to forge a relationship with him for 5 months (one of those relationships where he tells me not to tell anybody about us for the sake of professionalism, but really so he can shag around without any unwanted obstacles) and being constantly crushed by finding out that he was banging every other girl there I was deflated. I drew the line. No more, I’m out of here.
I handed in my resignation, gave a months notice and planned my move back to Melbourne, where I was free to be me!!! I had realised that this high school fantasy of being loved and accepted and part of a big group of friends with a cool boyfriend wasn’t real, I had realised that doing what men asked you to do wouldn’t make them like you, quite the opposite which is still a bizarre concept to me. I had learnt so much and so I guess I had that to be grateful for, but I had kind of ruined my reputation, in Cottesloe and I felt like a bit of a desperate loser. Oh well, that’s life. Move on.
So the remaining month was going to be difficult, I kind of just wanted to fuck off and move on with my life, There is a very big world out there, full of real things, beautiful things, kindness and Art, genuine friendship and love.
I think my distain for the Cott peaked one night when I knocked off work and had a drink in the pub, just hanging out, chatting when one of the bosses, a gross pasty mean shit, the kind of guy who looked like he played cricket and I hate cricket, the kind that didn’t wear zinc on his nose but still looked like he was a zinc wearer, who happened to be the brother of the big boss Waz, the guy who hated me from day 1. this pasty twat who had hadn’t ever had 1 conversation with me asked me to come and see something out the back, of course I obliged, curious as to what he wanted and I also felt required to do as he said, he was after all my superior.
He was really drunk, pointed to a table and said “bend over that and fuck me”
I was like, “what the fuck?”
He tried to kiss me, I laughed at him, pushed him away from me and walked inside, pretending that I wasn’t crushed, pretending that it didn’t bother me that I was now the big fucking slut joke.
He laughed too and went inside to tell the boys that his plan didn’t work, they all laughed. I went home.
I may have been a little grumpy at my last week of work, wanting to knock off early ect, I may have been a little impatient with drunk customers but fuck I was there wasn’t I???
So one day during my last week the big boss Waz walked in, pointed to me and motioned for me to follow him.
I did so, he sat me down at a table out the back and asked me if something was wrong,
Me, “nope, just looking forward to leaving and getting back to Melbourne next week”
Waz, “ok cos we have noticed you have a bit of attitude at work?”
Me “yeah sorry about that, probably just losing a bit of patience with the drunk customers, I’ll snap out of it for the rest of the week”
You could see in Waz’s face he hated me, he was dying to humiliate me and insult me or something, he really should have just left it at that.
But he couldn’t help himself..
Waz “well don’t you think that if you didn’t sleep with so many of the boys here you would have enjoyed your time more?”
I was shocked, all of the staff were sleeping around, all of the men there, all of the mangers were men and they were all sleeping with which ever bar attendant they wanted and I was copping this? I was so embarrassed, I felt like the dirty slut that I was in his eyes.
This was slut shaming, but slut shaming wasn’t even a thing yet, back then you were just a slut….. And it was shameful.
I wanted to tell him that his brother propositioned me last night, I wanted to tell him that I had only had 2 sexual partners when I started working there, I wanted to slap his arsehole head and tell him that in the real world nobody would ever go near him and the only reason he pulls chicks is cos he’s their boss and that’s highly fucking illegal bit to mention embarrassing! But I didn’t, I put my dirty little slut tail between my legs, told him he was right, told him I was sorry and went to finish my shift.
He gave me a nod to let me know that he approved of my apology and went on with his life as a cunt.
I’m still angry. I still think of all the things I would say if I bumped into that man today.
Today I’m an artist, a mother of four amazing children, today I’m proud of my sexual past and I believe in a woman’s right to safe fun sexual freedom. Today I know better these people taught me that, they taught me how not to raise my boys.
Sex is not a tool to bully or manipulate, it is OK to sleep with someone when you very first meet them. False promises to get sex is not ok.
Slut shaming is not ok. Don’t let it be.