I have experienced so much sexism my entire life its hard to know where to begin. I will start with the most damaging. I was about 15/16 years old, a self-proclaimed feminist and wrote a feminist zine. It was the early 90’s and wearing vintage t-shirts was the fashion. I had a pretty amazing collection that I wore with pride to school. I had rather large breasts at the time (this was before they got a job) and had never felt self-conscious about my body. Our brief homeroom time was in the middle of the day instead of the morning and I usually just told the teacher I was here and then carried on to my next class early. On this day, wearing my new vintage T with pride I had to stay in homeroom for some kind of announcement. I sat down and waited. All of a sudden, during the announcement, this young man walks into the room and start yelling “oh shit! Look at her nipples! You can see her nipples, oh shit look at them!” He is pointing to me and now the entire class is staring and he is still yelling and starts yelling at kids in the hall to come in and see. The teacher says nothing. I stand up and tell him to shut the fuck up. The teacher tells me not to use that language and I tell him that I am leaving and it wasn’t my job to police my own sexual harassment. I felt ashamed of my body for the first time ever. I immediately found a sweatshirt to put over me (it was hot out) and suffered in the heat in an effort to cover up. Later that day I get called into a meeting with the vice principal. I told him what happened and he replied with “Well, the teacher said you were wearing a very tight shirt which you now seemed to have covered up, so you can see why the boy said those things to you. Maybe next time don’t wear such a tight shirt.” It took everything I had not to punch him. Instead I just said, “give me note so I can get back into class.” He got all flustered and said “well you can see my point right?” I just repeated myself about the note until he gave it to me. I went into the bathroom and cried, not because I was sad but because I was angry, and disappointed that the people who were in the school to protect me were also my harassers and had no interested in my welfare. I went home and told my parents (also both feminists) and they asked me what I thought the best thing to do would be. They offered to call the principal for me etc but I said I wanted to do this on my own. I wrote a letter to the principal and the vice explaining the event and my shock and disappointment over how it was handled. The principal met with me, apologised on behalf of the vice and told me she had talked to him about how he handled the situation. I told her I wanted a written and public apology from him and that he should be required to have sexual harassment training and a review by the school board and that the boy who did the harassing needed to be healed accountable for his actions. She said that none of that was possible and that I would have to settle for a school wide assembly about sexual harassment. The assembly did happen, but as you can imagine, it was met with giggle and laughter and not taken seriously at all by the teenage students. From that day on I lost all faith in the adults and people in positions of authority at my school, not to mention the students. I feel lucky that instead of this experience making me feel small and helpless, it reafirmed my feminist views and prompted me to speak out more. Sadly, it did make me feel self conscious of my breasts during my teenage years.
I was in a packed metro train close to the door and had opened the door a few stops already to let people off. At on point I start to feel the person behind me rubbing themselves on my backside. At first I thought it was due to the amount of people on the metro, so I move forward only to feel he does too, continuing to rub against me. At that point I realized what was going on, turned around and asked him, “what are you doing?”. He answered saying, “I just want to get off at the next stop”. Then I said, “you can’t open the door when the train is still in motion, and it doesn’t give you the right to touch me”. He kept denying it and people on the metro just looked like they wanted to avoid any conflict. So I yelled “DO NOT TOUCH ME.” And then he got off the train, and I was left there shaking from the encounter. Thanks for listening <3
I am about to turn 18, and I was at the gas station recently filling up my car when I noticed an old man probably in his 60’s at the other side of the pump. He said “hi there sweetheart” and then proceeded to look me up and down with a creepy smile on his face and say, “heh heh, I wish I was 20 years younger…hell, I wish I was THIRTY years younger!” I laughed uncomfortably and quickly finished and got back into my car. I felt so disgusting after that I wanted to take about five showers.
The security guard at my school that opens the side door at the morning bell for students with IDs tells me to smile every morning to brighten his day. It’s early, it’s cold and he’s an asshole there’s no way I’ll smile for him to make him feel more liked by students that are likely half his age. One morning I was reading a book on my phone and he loudly shouted at me to stop texting all the “ugly boys” because I’m “way to pretty for them”. Not only did this make me uncomfortable but everyone around us just looked in a different direction. Ignoring his comment I told him I was reading to which he said, “oh yeah you gotta go to college so you can meet more ugly boys”. Sorry to burst your bubble security guard but most (pretty much all) girls don’t go to college so that we can meet men. Weird right?
One of my closest friends is a senior in high school and has been raped on two different occasions. One of the boys that sexually assaulted her has gone to college but it now texting her asking if they can meet and the other is still in high school, a junior and she sees him all the time (he also wants her to hook up with him again). She doesn’t know how to handle the situation and I don’t know how to talk to her about it seeing as I don’t think I know the full story and I have no personal experience with what’s she’s going through. My only guess right now is to be a supportive as possible and be there for whenever she wants to talk.
I live two blocks away from a college campus. There’s a house for rent that every couple of years has a bunch of guys living in it and there’s a house a block over that’s a frat house. I walked to and from school every morning of middle school (aged 11, 12, and 13) and I walk home everyday now as a sophomore in high school. At least once a week I would get catcalls from cars driving by where they would yell things like “hey sexy” and “I heard you fucked my sister”. I was 11 when one guy came up behind me took one of my headphones out and said “hey baby what are ya listening to?” At 11 I understood what sexism was and how men could make you feel uncomfortable. So I looked up at this man-child and responded that I was 11 and asked him to go away. The guy didn’t talk again but he walked beside me for another 10 minutes before turning. Maybe he had to walk that way anyway or maybe and more likely he was a creep that got rejected by and 11-year-old.
My male roommate and I were arguing about sexism as a social construct and his immediate response was to call me a cunt and tell me I was lying to myself. He did not get the irony.
There was a technical problem with the film my boyfriend and I saw at the cinema. After the film, I went to a male staff member to ask where I can make a complaint. A few moments later my boyfriend appears next to me, and the member of staff turns immediately to him and asks my boyfriend to explain the problem (again). Apparently my word isn’t enough.
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*
I’m a high school teacher, and my male co-workers made a comment about how our male college “had to be at work” a week after he became a father while his wife “got to be at home”, as if growing a human, pushing it out of you, and then taking care of it while recovering from said birth is a vacation compared to coaching a football practice. It deeply concerns me that these are people molding the minds of impressionable teenagers.