I am a thirteen year old girl attending public school in the North West of England. After watching Laura Bates’ TED talk on Everyday sexism, I was inspired to share my story, so here I am.
I feel like for people my age, there are many expectations for females and there is a certain role that a woman should fit, but many people don’t realise they hold these standards for us. There is so much pressure on girls to be funny, be hardworking, be confident, but at the same time you must be beautiful, have an arse, have nice boobs. I used to get so overwhelmed and I used to try and become like one of those perfect girls that everyone seems to idolise and adore. I have been teased by both girls and boys about the size of my bust, my skinniness, my lack of a bum, and frankly it is tiring. I wish I could say I have become a confident person who doesn’t care about these things, but I get very depressed about myself and sometimes I wonder; if I was like one of those girls, maybe my life would be a lot easier.
Over-sexualisation of young girls is ever-present at my school. I have been sent images of boys’ penises and one boy even sent me screenshots from a porn video he was watching. Both of these were unsolicited. There is no escape. In school, boys have invented a game in which one boy says “1,2,3” to another boy and that person has to slap a girl’s behind. My friends have all been targeted in this game, and many girls pretend not to mind this assault, but when I have privately asked one, she admitted it was quite painful and not pleasant. Many people have reported this to the school with their only reply basically being “Boys will be boys”.
Many boys in my year have described how they have ‘wanked over my pictures’ and frequently discuss what types of porn they masturbate to. Obviously this makes me extremely uncomfortable, but I honestly don’t know what to do about it. Also, it is extremely taboo for a girl to masturbate, and nobody would ever dream of admitting it. My friends were having a conversation the other day about how they didn’t really know what masturbation meant for a girl but it ‘sounded painful and weird’. I am very fortunate to have a liberal mother with whom I can discuss issues like this with, and so I am educated on my own body and what everything is. I felt like if I told them what a clitoris was, though, they would think I was strange. It sounds stupid, I know.
I used to be extremely ambitious, but I think it has been a gradual thing where the gender stereotypes and gender roles of a woman have slowly changed me to become less so. I have found myself dumbing myself down to others, particularly boys, in order to seem less intelligent. I don’t exactly know why. I also changed my career path from being a firefighter to being a teacher a couple of years ago because I was told by a group of boys that it wasn’t a job for a woman, and I specifically remember it being said with a tangible disdain.
I used to profess myself as a proud feminist, until I found out that feminists were labelled as radical, unnecessary beings who were stereotyped as either lesbian or delusional. ‘Feminist’ went alongside ‘idiot’, because apparently women are equal to men. I literally have grown to have a hatred for the male species BECAUSE of this ludicrous idea that all men seem to agree on. Of course we aren’t equal!! Not until you stop sexualising my body! Not until you stop acting like women are things and not people! Not until you stop sending me pictures of your dick! Not until you stop holding impossible double standards for women! Not until you stop female sexuality being taboo!
I don’t really have much of a ‘story’ , but I thought it would be good for myself to tell somebody about what is really been going on with young people, about the extreme sexualisation of everything, the effects that media has on girls and the utter shame that goes along with the word ‘feminism’.
Note: I am, in fact, now a proud feminist once again. ‘Girl Up’ was given to me by an auntie, and this gave me validation that the things going on around me were wrong. Thank you for giving my post your time to read :).