Chelsea

Coming out of my last class at university, I was stopped by a young man holding a stack of papers. He pulled me to the side and put one of the papers in front of me, asking me to read the title of the poem he had written (entitled “You’re Beautiful), and told me to “read this whenever you’re having a bad day”. I looked it over, feeling pretty uncomfortable at his insistence that I read it, simply by his body language. He stood in front of me, watching my reaction as I finished it. Upon reading it all, he said “so, what do you think?” What I wanted to say was: “First of all, as a woman, I don’t need ANYONE to tell me I am beautiful, nor do I NEED to be beautiful, or at least YOUR shitty standard of beautiful. If I am to be considered beautiful, it will be on my terms. Secondly, the fact that you would automatically equate what you think my bad day is with not feeling beautiful/pretty/attractive (because that’s every woman’s goal in life, right?) proves to me that you are just another sexist, entitled ass that thinks he is doing me a FAVOR by “complimenting” me. Of course, as a woman, I gave the answer I have been conditioned to give to strangers’ “compliments”. “It’s sweet. Thank you.” I immediately regretted this reaction, and as he walked away pridefully, I took out a pen and scribbled what I really wanted to say on the back of the paper. I found him in the hallway a couple minutes later, in the process of handing another unsuspecting woman a copy of his bullshit. At first chance, I handed it to him, gave him a look, and went on my way. I truly hope he got the message.

B

My “best friend” (a guy) who I had feelings for and he claimed to have feelings for me, and knew that I was saving myself for marriage, repeatedly tried to pressure me into having sex and pulled down my pants (and I quickly pulled my pants back up). I have never told anyone this. He told me he had been waiting to have sex with me for 8 months, RIGHT AFTER he told me he was proud of me for saving my virginity for marriage. Then he went on to say that whoever gets to marry me is lucky because they are going to get great sex, and he then said “maybe I’ll call you up one day and give you a ring”. Not only do I feel degraded, but I feel shame for loving this human who actually views me as a sexual object and nothing more. I feel disgusted at myself and at him. I want to forgive him because God forgives everyone. But, I will never be his friend again.

HLS

A man told me that he thought I was cool and I would be cooler if I were sleeping with him. When I told him that I was engaged, he started to make jokes about how women weren’t really entire people- he said women were worth about a quarter of what men were.

Marylou

Years ago, I worked at a shop selling vinyl records. In the 80s, many album covers were sexist & borderline lewd— nearly naked women in dog collars, overly lipsticked disembodied mouths sucking popsicles, figures in scant lacy lingerie & high heels kneeling in front of some guy with a guitar. Anyway I worked in the stockroom of this shop and was, for most of the time, the only female. When records were so beat up they were beyond re-sale even as “used” they were tossed, but the racier album jackets went up on the walls. Then more & more explicit pictures of women started to join them. When I complained, my complaints were dismissed and made fun of: “Boys will be boys,” “be a good sport,” etc. When I complained to the owner of the shop, I was told to grin and bear it, even when I renewed complaints when it got to the point where the pictures completely covered the walls and interior door of the only staff bathroom. Alas, one fateful night, I slept with one of the guys, who, within days, “confessed” to the owner (there was a non-fraternisation policy). I was fired. He was suspended for three weeks, with pay.

Renee

My Dad tells me at my sister’s wedding that I shouldn’t be wearing the dress I chose for the ceremony presumably because it’s strapless – God forbid I wear a strapless dress when I have sizable breasts, even when the are completely covered. I am the only woman in my family with an hourglass figure and this has caused countless comments about my body, clothing, judgments about my sexuality, judgments about my male friends, slut shaming (with no evidence) comments about “what boys will think/do” and what basically amounts to body policing. My parents are well educated professionals who should know better. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if they hadn’t been. It’s very clear to me that the “sexiness” (whatever that means) of my body disturbs both my parents, not to mention the problems it raises outside of the home. I didn’t chose to have this body – but I love it and am glad it’s mine. But why do I have to constantly worry about it’s effect on other people? I have better things to do with my time!

Alice

When I was a sophomore in high school, I had this class called Ap statistics and probability. This is classically a senior or junior class, but I was in it. During class, I had to sit next to an 18-year old who was almost 19. During the first half of the year , he didn’t bother me. However, the second quarter he started to place his hand on my leg and started to move it up. After awhile I asked the teacher to move me and I thought that was the end of it. That was till he started dating my friend. When I told her what happened she told me that he was just friendly and that was just how he was. Then, once she left he came and told me that he didn’t know it made me uncomfortable.

Christina

One of the men I worked for (he was my boss) he told me that “if I wasn’t married, I’d have a lot of fun with you-but that would be it.” I am still not sure of why he thought to say this to me. I wore mascara and make up that day, and usually I would not wear any make up at all, and wore ragged ugly clothes too. He then took me out to eat, and attempted to talk to me about his wife not being supportive of him. I felt sorry for him, but he was the most confusing, scary person. I was wrong for working for him for so long, but I felt sorry for him. He also called me nurse ratchet. Prior to him calling me this, I tried to enforce reasonable boundaries. After a while I would loose my temper at times, while at the same time I would always minimize or rationalize his behavior. I thought I was just making a big deal out of nothing! I guess I didn’t realize that you don’t have to be 10 to be sexually abused or harassed. A law firm I worked at had a similar type of person. A certain lawyer would occasionally walk into the room where I had to use the postal machine to weigh out going mail. He wore nice clothes, gold jewelry. I don’t get why I remember that, but anyway he would actually sit on top of a table right across from me, grind his bum on the table, while making small talk with me, and simultaneously pulling at his crotch…..like pulling up his pants, but just near where his bulge was! I think he probably grabbed his balls one time, but it’s not like I was paying attention. True story. I hope this isn’t too graphic. These are just a couple of examples. The list is too long to write out completely.

Anonymous

My boyfriend and I went on a Wal-Matt run last night to buy ingredients for ice cream sundaes. I’d had a few glasses of wine (he drove) and I was in a good mood, making a lot of silly jokes. We were standing at the end of an aisle debating what kind of candy to buy, and I went into a little bit of a rant about how white chocolate isn’t really chocolate. I was exaggerating to make my bf laugh, but at the same time I made sure to keep my voice down and not be obnoxious. Well, this guy about a third of the way down the aisle apparently heard because he turned, looked at me, then looked at my bf, and said, “Man, women are crazy, right?” It was just such a gross moment, like he was expecting them to bond over their mutual disdain for me and my *gasp* NERVE in voicing my opinions.

Kai

I’m currently in high school and I’m Asian, female, and bisexual. I here a lot being spoken about me behind my back. A lot of sexual things. This one time I got asked-to my face-by an older boy if “I was sexier and better at sex. Because I’m Asian and bisexual”. When I told someone they brushed me off saying “you should take it as a compliment, they’re noticing you!” . Honestly, it feels very degrading when I’m trying to be myself in the American education system, and constantly I’m sexualized for who I am. And another time was this kid said I was “less than a person, because I was born in another country”. I am a legal citizen, and even though English is my second language, it’s still my primary language. Ugh! It’s just really frustrating.

blisters

It was early in the summer and I had only just broken out my flip flops, and the pair I was wearing that day was giving me horrible blisters. I was walking with a friend on a bike path and decided I couldn’t take it anymore. I stopped on the side of the path and fished out some bandages from my bag (I came prepared!) and bent over to put them on. Next thing I know, my butt is being slapped. I stand up, and see a male biker–who must have been in his 40s or 50s (I am 23) from the glimpse I caught of him–whizzing away down the path, looking normal as can be, as if he didn’t just violate my space. I yell after him: “FUCKING SERIOUSLY?!” An older couple walking toward me stop, shocked by my outburst. I angrily say “That guy just slapped my butt!” and they shake their heads in disbelief. The woman let’s out an “Ooh!” under her breath, almost in solidarity. They didn’t see, my friend who was standing next to me didn’t even realize what happened–it happened so fast. I regret being so frozen by shock that I didn’t kick off my flip flops and chase his ass down. After all, I was wearing running shorts and a sweatshirt (over a sports bra), which, I’ll add, definitely means I was asking for it. *EYE ROLLLLL*