I’m an auditor. My company hired a new director last year – a guy who is well regarded for his work in the industry. When we were introduced his immediate response was “you don’t look scary enough to be an auditor”. I know he was trying to be friendly but he judged me on my appearance and implied that my appearance compromised my work. This was disheartening when I was looking to earn his professional respect. I doubt he would ever make the same remark about a male auditor.
My husband and I went to meet some friends to play indoor golf in the Sydney CBD on a Saturday afternoon. When we walked in and said the name of our booking, the manager looked embarrassed and said ‘Ummm….we actually have a buck’s party in here this afternoon with topless waitresses’. When we reiterated that we had a booking, he said ‘Yes I know, I just assumed that you would be all males and wouldn’t have a problem with it’. Notwithstanding the assumption that our group would be all male (??!), he also made the assumptions that a. none of the males in our group would ‘have a problem with it’ and b. he assumed that I would have a problem. He also put it on to me as my problem to fix, presumably by cancelling our booking and going away. I had to reassure him that I was fine. Perhaps a private function room is in order, as well as a change of sexist/patronizing attitude?
After partaking in a little banter with an older male co-worker last week, he made a gesture in the middle of our staff room which mimicked grabbing my genitals. No one else saw it but I wish they had. I have to report it to my boss, who I think will believe me but won’t do anything about it.
The other day my 15yr old daughter was walking home from the bus stop, standing on the small island in the middle of the road when a driver behind her yelled out ‘NICE ARSE’ as his car went past her. She was so shocked she jumped and almost fell in front of a car going the other direction. When she arrived home she was still visibly shaking and upset and her step-father tried to tell her she ‘should be flattered.’ I may not have been able to follow up on my maternal desire to eviscerate the driver involved but in a series of short, choppy sentences I’ve disabused her step-father of the notion that any portion of that encounter could be regarded as ‘flattering’.
A friend’s husband congratutes me for ‘handling the corners well’ on a country road. I drive around 200 miles a week for my job, usually on country roads, and have never had an accident in the15 years since I passed my test.
I was intimate with my closest male friend of over 5 years a short while ago, believing his stories of seeing a future with me and how I was the only girl he could be himself around. Afterwards, he told me he was manipulating me to get what he wanted because he felt like I ‘owed him’ after I sought his advice for a stressful family situation.
A year and a bit ago I was at a charity run with one of my girlfriends. There was a guy there that I had known from years ago, and I smiled at him. I was simply being nice. Later on, I stopped to tie my shoe, and he came up from behind me with one of his friends, and slapped my ass. He gave a ‘whoop’ to express his achievement and his friend laughed. No one around me questioned what had just happened, and carried on. I never really talked about it, or mentioned it to anyone. I was 16 at the time and I just thought that everyone experienced this from time to time. I felt belittled and embarrassed, but at the same time felt that it was such a small thing, and therefore didn’t choose to follow him up on it. I wish I had.
When I was thirteen, there was a big careers convention being held for all the near by high schools. I was walking with a couple of friends through the centre when I felt someone slap my ass. I spun around and there was a group of five boys, all at least 15-17, from another high school standing there. They didn’t even try to hide what they had done, they all just looked down at me and laughed. My friends and all the other students around us pretended that it hadn’t happened and there were no teachers around. I was tiny back then and extremely shy, so of course I just put my head down in submission and kept walking. It seemed the right option as I was out numbered and they were double my size and clearly didn’t care that they’d been caught out. In my thirteen year old mind there was nothing I could do. Of course nowadays if a man laid a hand on me like that without my permission I’d be on him so fast he wouldn’t know what hit him. But as a kid I didn’t know that men had to ask permission before they touched me like that. I grew up believing that men were entitled to my body just because I was a girl. I learned the hard way that that wasn’t true.
After spending a day in the city with my parents and taking the train home with them, I was asked by a middle aged man if I had ever experienced problems with my shoulders or lower back. I’d had earphones in and my parents were walking a little farther behind me at the station, giving the appearance of my being alone. He soon backed off when he realised that I had company, and my dad gave me a lecture on strangers. Two weeks later I was out with two of my girl friends near the shopping centre, just a stop on the way to a friend’s going away party. I was meant to grab some chocolates from inside the shops and meet my two friends at a fast food place. Having bought the chocolates, I walked out of the shops with the knowledge that I was being followed. With a glance behind me, I realised that it was the same man from the other weekend. He followed a distance behind me and I shrugged it off as a coincedence, until I reached the meeting place. The man walked inside and stood very close to me. He asked again if I had ever experienced shoulder or lower back problems, and I was out of there. My friends had finally come and were outside. I was freaked out, and one of them decided to go inside and see what all of the fuss was about. She came out telling us how the man had asked her strange questions. We all then walked over to another fast food place with the intention to test our stalker theory, and the man followed us. We found out later, after a call to my dad and an encounter with the police (who did nothing) that the stalker had been roaming aorund the shopping centre area harrassing random women. I personally felt disgusted and ashamed of myself, like I had done something wrong. I am only 15 and already have to feel wary when I leave my house, even if it’s to go to the park up the road. My brothers don’t have to worry about that. If I were male, I would not have been in that situation. I am not saying that males do not experience harrassment, just that females are more susceptible to it given the way we are viewed by a large part of society.
Today at school my friend was groped around the higher waist and was pressed against a male like she was some kind of machine. She pushed him off carelessly and I interfered and said to not touch her, everyone around made oooohing and aghhhhing noises like it was “out of place” to stand up for a female. Even my friend gave me a look. Later on I was told that I was overreacting and it was just a ‘jk’. Even my friend agreed.