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Madeline and her friend Jolene retaliated by punching the dude - as I expect anyone would, if assaulted like that. And yet, excuses for the man's disgusting behaviour were as varied and numerous as the pieces of glitter covering Madeline's body.
I was 12 when I realised that my body was public property. I was walking home from the supermarket in my little sleepy town when a van of young men drove past, hollering dehumanising and sexually loaded slurs at me. I shamefacedly hurried home as fast as I could, tears pricking my eyes.
A few months later, my best friend was groped by a fellow camper at a Christian camp on Ponui Island. The camp leaders apologised, told the boy off and warned my friend to dress more modestly in future.
He wasn't asked to leave the camp. She was forced to continue swimming, running and hiking with the person who assaulted her. I remember hugging her as she cried tears of embarrassment.
That summer we learned our personal, private bodily autonomy was not our own. We could be forcibly violated at any minute and it was probably ''our fault'' anyway.
Returning to the R&V incident, social media exploded over the man's behaviour. One flimsy excuse put forward for the cretin's behaviour was that Madeline was ''asking for it'', on account of her attire. And yet people are sexually assaulted regardless of what they are wearing.
Madeline was not breaking any laws by covering her breasts with glitter and walking around with her friends at a music festival. New Zealand's law on indecent exposure is explicitly in regard of genitals. Breasts are not genitals. Even though her skin was exposed, it was not on offer to the world.
She was not seeking anyone's approval or affirmation about her body. She probably just wanted to feel fun, glittery and cool in the musty heat of Gisborne. But still, people were trying to excuse the fact someone touched her in a sexual way without consent - which, by law, is considered sexual assault.
I was arguing with a friend the other day about the issue of ''modesty'' and women's bodies. ''She was practically half-naked,'' said my friend, ''it's no wonder the boy groped her. Men and boys can't help feeling the way they do around beautiful women. They're visually stimulated.''
But regardless of how someone's sexual desire is triggered, basic respect and courtesy need to be maintained. The ''boys will be boys'' attitude denies men and boys their agency, characterising them as aggressive and brutish.
As I said in an early column, men are no more rapists in their natural state than I am a lizard in my natural state. No-one has to be a slave to their hormones or sexual impulses. Restraint can be exercised, and respect must always be tantamount.
In a joint statement released after the incident, Madeline and Jolene said: ''No-one has the right to touch you without your consent - it doesn't matter what the circumstance may be, your body is yours and nobody has the right to take that away from you.''
Hear, hear. Can we please stop making excuses for assault? It's 2018. I can't believe I have to spell this out: women's bodies are not your property. It doesn't matter what someone is wearing, or whether they are in a public or private place. Don't touch someone without their consent.
-Jean Balchin is an English student at the University of Otago.