The Everyday Sexism Project exists to catalogue instances of sexism experienced on a day to day basis. They might be serious or minor, outrageously offensive or so niggling and normalised that you don’t even feel able to protest. Say as much or as little as you like, use your real name or a pseudonym – it’s up to you. By sharing your story you’re showing the world that sexism does exist, it is faced by women everyday and it is a valid problem to discuss.
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Once, my uncle and step Aunty were round my house for dinner when I was around 7 or 8. After the meal my cousin (8) and step cousin (12) asked if we could all play a game upstairs. Part of the game involved me being a princess and being trapped in a castle (my sister’s bedroom). Being a young child, I was wearing a princess costume with no underwear as I was just with the family and nobody was looking anyway. Part of the game was that one cousin would be a robber and have to try and break into the “castle” and the other was inside with me trying to stop him.
It was my step-cousin’s turn to be inside and my other cousin went downstairs to get some water. When my step cousin and I were alone, he took out his penis and placed it on top my vagina. I didn’t even know what sex was at this point or what he was doing. He didn’t try to do anything or touch me, he just left it there. He did it 3 or 4 times before he had to go home.
When I went downstairs, I felt disgusting and dirty and like everyone was going to find out.
He’s never done anything since nor even acted weird around me, it’s like it never happened. That’s the worse part, the fact that he’s never even acknowledged that it happened and I’ve even doubted my own memory at some points.
I know this isn’t really a “relatable” story but I just needed to share it and for someone to read it and just acknowledge that I’ve gone through this. Thank you for reading, this has helped me so much.
When I was around 12, my friends and I used to go to this under 18s club kind of thing in the local hall. My first time, I wore a girly dress and looked very out of place and innocent. A random boy went up to me and grabbed/slapped my butt. The most disgusting part however is the fact that all my friends around me said things like:
“That’s normal for this place” “Thats always happening”
“Get used to that”
I felt so gross and upset but none of my friends took it seriously so I just carried on with the rest of the night and didn’t tell my parents. I felt so upset and humiliated even though nobody else thought it was a big deal
I was walking my dog, when a white van with three men my age honked and whistled at me, laughing. I was so upset I turned around and went home. For them it was a fleeting action, for me it ruined my week.
One time I was at a party with my friend. We came across three guys who wanted to talk to us. They seemed sweet at first but then they wanted to give us drinks that they made us. We obviously didnt want to, so they started to insist more and more until me and my friend had to run toward an other group of people to feel safer. Since this day I can’t help but think what would have happened if we had took those drinks.
I’ve always been quiet and somewhat shy, but at the same time, if someone pushes me too far, I will speak up, which I think shocks people because I’m pretty patient and kind in general. I used to ride public transportation in Chicago a lot when I worked in the Loop, and one time I was on the train, it was crowded and some guy grabbed my butt, I was very young and he was older, probably at least 45. Without thinking, I turned around and punched him. He was shocked and said sorry sorry it was an accident. Well, there is no way, and anyone who has their butt grabbed knows this, that it’s accidental. Of course no one paid attention and ignored it, that’s train mentality. But the doors opened as this was happening, so I confronted him saying you are only sorry because I hit you. And I followed him out and kicked him too. He was scared and ran away! I always liked to think that it made him think twice before he grabbed another girl again as I’d be the last person someone would have expected that from. Again, no one from the train said one thing.
I currently live in Brazil, and attend a well known public university. A few months ago, the entire class was presenting their projects for the semester (we study Architecture and Urbanism) when one of the male teachers suddenly asks a girls only group “Why you didn’t think to include a nursery school in the architectural program” of the block full of buildings they were proposing, because, according to him, “what would you do with your kids when you were working? I thought a group of girls would at least think of such a thing”.
Seriously, why did he assume every girl of that group would want a kid when they grew up? Is that to be the ultimate finality of a woman? Or why didn’t he also ask the same question to the several boys only groups before then? Wouldn’t these boys be parents to? Work to? Need somewhere to also leave their children? But no, his major problem with their project was that it didn’t have a nursery school.
What also bothers me is that none of the other teachers (two males and one female) that were present in the class manifested any opinion to that particular comment.
What still gives me hope is that the rest of the students (mostly girls, but also some boys) rose up to debate what he had just said, and how sexist it was. Double standards are sneaky bastards, not everyone noted that was the case.
Only recently have I learned there is a name for a sexist thing that often happens to women riding a bicycle: leapfrogging. It’s when a male biker sees a female biker on the road, and without realistically assessing the situation, automatically assumes she will be slower, and just cuts in front of her. Then, he goes back to a slower,more comfortable pace. Then, if she should get in front of him because she doesn’t want to be confined to his slower pace, he will pick up the pace again just in order to get in front of her AGAIN and then he will slow back down AGAIN, and keep repeating this every time she tries to get ahead.
This happened to me all the time biking alone. Then, the other day, biking with my boyfriend, some dick cut in front of me again so abruptly that I had to brake, then slowed down to half his pace. I made a deliberate point to pass him, plus, I was f*cking angry so the rage made me unable to just calmly keep behind him. The adrenalin rushed because I was expecting the usual: the man to rudely, aggressively push ahead of me, just to show me my “place”. Nothing happened. Why? Because my boyfriend was there too.
So I just got into a new relationship, and after a decade and a half of dating and previous serious relationships, I have really been stunned. Why have I been stunned? Because even though my new boyfriend obviously grew up in the same sexist world as the rest of us, and sometimes says things he doesn’t know are sexist, his behaviour in many things is so much more respectful than any of my previous partners. For the last 3 months I have been dumbfounded by things like finding the dishes washed even though I didn’t wash them, and him making my pleasure a top priority in bed, and him remembering and respecting the work I do. It’s weird. I would have to fight fruitlessly with previous partners to try to get these things, and then I would give up. No, my current partner is not perfect at all. There is stuff we have fought about, and stuff we’re working on. But waking up at 34 to be shocked that my fundamental human rights are being respected is a weird feeling. Other men would bring me flowers, take me on lavish dates. But knowing that I will not be left alone with all the housework when we eventually have kids and I’m also working means so much more to me than a stupid flower of inequality.
So, just a few crumbs of sexism coming up.
1. I’m a piano teacher and 2 otherwise adorable 3rd grade boys wanted to play a piece involving 3 players. When I told them a girl in their grade at their level could join them, they said ” no way! She’s a girl.”
2. I was asked to take part in a recording session last year. The 3 men over 50 who were doing the recording were deliberating over some harmonies in the piece, they couldn’t seem to make sense of a few measures. I gave them an idea (I studied composition in high school, and have a pretty good idea of music theory). One of them laughed and said ” women always need to get what they want”
3. We were visiting my boyfriend’s relatives abroad, and they said ” why don’t you guys stay a few more days.” To which my bf replies ” we can’t, I need to work during the week” Not “we”, “I”.
I love my boyfriend and he’s not sexist at all in most things, but this infuriated me especially since not only do I also work, but at this point I’m the primary earner. It hurts to be erased like that. Also, same relatives (also lovely people otherwise, it’s not their fault for their assumptions), asked, AFTER I had shared numerous anecdotes about my work, ” So, Nora, do you work too?”. We’ve been together 3 months. I’m over 30. What exactly are people assuming women do when we’re not with men? I didn’t want to say “yes, I do, in fact if I didn’t we wouldn’t have been able to afford the gas to come visit you.”
It’s not always the people, it’s the f*cked-up system we live in that puts women in a weird place in people’s minds.
When my boyfriend of two years and I broke up, I was shattered. I was only 18 years old and was planning our wedding, not a break up (now I thank the Lord I didn’t marry that young – I just wasn’t ready.) After about 4 months of being single and loving myself, I decided I was ready to go on a date finally. My friend had given this guy she was friends with my number, and him and I had been texting for a couple weeks and seemed to have a lot of common interests, so I decided to go on a date with him.
Well…The date didn’t go so well. It was awkward and there was no chemistry, so when I got home I texted him and told him how I felt, but that I would like to be friends. It has been over a year since that date, and he has asked me out at least 20 times. Every time I say no I either get frustrated, because he cannot seem to take no for an answer. He always tells me that I do not go after good guys and he wants to protect me from them (hence why he keeps asking me out) but in reality, I know I need to protect myself from guys like him who will not take no for an answer.
And it is not just him. Other guys in my life have been like this too. I think many girls have to deal with guys who will not take no for an answer, and it is so unfair because we are called names for saying no when the guys should be the ones being called out for their behavior.