Went for a work lunch with two senior colleagues yesterday, one male and one female. Myself and the other female sat facing the male colleague as we both needed to talk directly to him. The waiter turned to the male in my group and said “nice view”. When myself and my female colleague looked to see what was behind us the waiter said (to the male colleague again), “no I mean those two”. What the actual fuck.
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After 6 years of being sexually harassed, groped, and threatened with violence by a senior member of my company, I finally took the step to escalate it to the CEO. The harasser is the CEO’s best friend, hence my delay.
After being initially shocked to hear about what happened, the CEO is now considering whether or not this is a disciplinary offence (our handbook says it’s gross misconduct, but hey). He thinks his friend, the harasser, was only joking and didn’t know I’d take it so seriously. It was all a joke. As for the times he groped me (technically sexual assault), the CEO said his friend was pissed. So that’s all okay then, my bad…
The world makes me sad sometimes. It’s mostly men, that Adam Johnson prison bragging, I wish I’d raped her. Why do men hate women? Sometimes I worry that I will end up hating actually all men. Especially when men I love or have liked do things that make them part of the problem.
I hope that I can help them to hate us less. Did I really just write that? We don’t deserve to be hated. I did not deserve to be raped, I did not deserve to be sexually assaulted. How can I get past these things? I wrote that I should not give them brain space, maybe I should free the nipple in protest, but all that would do would make me feel more objectified as they’d would look and scoff at me. I could get really fucking good at manly things? Like mechanics and woodwork, but would that be winning if I’d rather be doing other things. I have a strong resolve to teach any children I might have to be more respectful and to love themselves, I could raise solutions, hope to raise people that would not rape or be raped. But is that on some level saying I could have prevented some of what happened to me, raise them to have better judgement of people. The people that hurt me told me they cared about me. I don’t want to raise children incapable of trusting other humans. I feel like I need a tattoo that says ‘it wasn’t your fault’ I need Robin Williams to shout it in my fucking face and shake my shoulders until I believe it and cry. But I’m not Matt Damon, I am a perfectly functional loving woman, I have not shut down, I trust. I feel triggered by my partner sometimes, when he grabs, I tell him i don’t like it. I don’t know if he believes me. Sometimes if I’m not in the mood to make love he tries to guilt trip me, as if he does have some sort of a right to my body. I don’t know how to make him understand that. I don’t know how much it affects me. I know I don’t like it. I’d like to be able to say no and that be ok. It feels like I have a limited amount of nos. I’d like to be more clear in myself about why I say no, sometimes I feel like I’d like to make love but I say no, and I don’t know why. Is it because I don’t feel safe somehow? I know I don’t like to make love when I don’t feel safe.
Today I tried to do yoga in the park and a Lorry drove past and beeped at me. I was angry.
I am 16 and two years ago I moved to another country because my parents found better jobs there. I am very happy with the way I am treated here. I have a group of friends, girls and boys, and we are all treating each other with respect. Sadly, i cannot say the same about the people in my home country.
I was the outcast in my class. I was bullied and no body wanted to be my friend. The only best friend i had turned on me because she was afraid it might ruin her reputation. The reason why I was bullied is because i didn’t fit in with the crowd. I was 14 and didn’t have a boyfriend. I didn’t go out every weekend, I wasn’t following the latest fashion trends, I wasn’t wearing any make up to school. I just wasn’t the stereotypical teenage girl that boys fantasize about. I have nothing against the girls who do things differently than me but it bothered me that they didn’t feel the same. Obviously the boys had a problem with my behavior as well. Apparently if you are 14 and don’t have a boyfriend something is wrong with you. The girls encouraged them instead of being on my side as friends always stick by your side.
They never invited me to parties because they thought I was boring. The one time they ever did was on new year’s eve but it was because the whole class was invited. We were playing truth or dare. One of my friends said she didn’t want to play because she didn’t want to do the dares because she said she didn’t want to behave like a slut just for a stupid game. That same friend came back to play and dared me to kiss a guy who was always mean to me. I refused. So of course all of the boys started shouting at me one of them saying ”when you get married will you ask your parents if you can hug your husband?” I left. Just like that. Stood up and left. I wish i had said something and defended myself. I thought it wasn’t worth it.
I thought to myself it is just how guys behave in this age and that they will grow out of it. Well, some of them do, some of them don’t. And there are also nice guys who don’t even go through this phase. But the fact that girls in my community and in more have to behave a certain way have to do certain things in order to be socially accepted scares me and the fact that some girls support this kind of thinking disgusts me. We should all be able to do what we want, dress how we want, go wherever we want with whoever we want. I am lucky enough to get out of there and not fall under the influence but I fear that a lot of girls will be forced to do something they don’t want to just to fit in and boys will like them.
Where to begin?
One year, I went on holidays with my parents, I was fifteen. Sitting by the pool my parents made friends with a couple about their age with a very young son. The husband of the couple seemed really nice, chatted away to him. The next day they joined us at the pool, the husband started to stare at me, up and down, telling my parents and his wife how lovely I was. He really just kept on staring at me in my swimming togs, and he really seemed less less jolly old man and more and more, creepy old man. He joined my parents and I for a drink after dinner and when my mother went to bed, he really over kill telling me I was beautiful and grabbed me by the waist. My Father, immediately stood up and said we were leaving in a super awkward way. I think my father wanted to believe I hadn’t noticed behavior so that’s why he didn’t give out to the man, but either way, what hell did that guy think he was doing?
When I was fourteen and babysitting, the kids dad slapped me on the bum and said that my shorts looked like I was wearing underwear.
When I was seventeen I worked in a bar and I was cleaning the ladies bathroom as the pub was being cleared out. A man his thirties, who was engaged, who knew my family and who’s little sister was in my year in school, followed me into the bathroom, pushed the door closed behind him and told me how pretty he thought I was and asked me whether I wanted it to get “hot” in the bathroom. He grabbed for me so I backed myself into a cubicle, complete with mop and bucket and locked myself in. A friend from school, a boy, who was also working in the bar came in when he noticed the door closed and dragged the guy away.
In that same bar, a married man in his forties, groped me.
In that same bar, a man in his sixties, groped me.
When I was nineteen, a man in his thirties licked my face and squeezed my upper thigh in a car when I was getting a lift home with his sister. He was a really big man, I am a very small person in general. His hand completely around my thigh he rubbed up towards my crotch. He did this while continuing to speak to his sister (driving) and a neighbor in the front seat about his children. I have seen him many times since and he doesn’t look me in the eye. He acts as though he has never met before, particularly if I am with a brother or someone else he knows.
When I was twenty one, and in university I brought friends back to my apartment after a night out. A guy I kind of like fell asleep on the sofa, when I went to bed he came into my room. It was college and common for friends to sleep over male or female. He started to kiss me, I kissed back. Before I knew it, he was on top of me, I kept telling him to stop when he was inside me. I kept saying no. He grunted and rolled off of me when he was done. The next morning I felt so ashamed and hungover. I told my friends but I didn’t report it. My friends, never suggested I reported it, it was a case of “bummer, that’s shit”. He would make it his business to be around me at parties, I would try and get away from him, he would follow me home from uni, he once left himself into my apartment by tailgating, he once grabbed by the belt of my shorts in a pub and shoved me against the wall. My friends would give out to him and shield me while another friend helped usher me safely away. None of us ever thought that this was an unusual situation or even illegal, just college. He told friends that he raped me, in front of me and laughed at me. When I ready about unreported sexual assaults I seem to forget to make the connection.
When I was twenty five and working in my first “real” job, making “good” money, I was the only female in an all male department. We were having a Christmas jumper day and I came to work wearing jeans and a Christmas jumper, as everyone else in the office did. My male boss, who I had a lot of respect for, said “what are you wearing?!” when responded that I was wearing a Christmas jumper, he said “Really?, I thought you’d show up wearing a Santa’s little helpers outfit for me” I was just astonished, really what the actual…?
When I was twenty six I was out for dinner with my friends, I was standing on the street while one of them used the atm. A drunk guy grabbed me by the wrist and tried to drag me up the dark street adjacent to the street we were on. I pulled my arm away from him, he held on so tight that his nails began to dig into my skin, I successfully freed my arm from his grip and my arm started to bleed. It was infected and gross afterwards and I still have a scar on the inside of my wrist from him. I wonder does he even remember it.
The dozens of times a man shoved his hand up my skirt in busy pubs.
That time my boyfriends friend told me he wanted to fuck me when he bumped into me alone in the hall at a house party.
That time when I was working in a restaurant at twenty three when a guy I knew through friends came in drunk with a group of colleagues. I was walking down the stairs and met him on the landing, he grabbed me by both wrists and tried to kiss me. He kept leaning in and trying to reach my face with his as I tried to wriggle out of his grip. I nearly fell down the stairs trying to get away from him. He is a notoriously “nice” guy apparently.
When I was in school, my science teacher used to rub his crotch against the front of our desks, so all the girls used to rub chalk on the desks before he came into class. One day, he rubbed himself against the desks like we knew he would and when he stood away from the desk of my friend and I, he noticed that the front of his trousers was covered in chalk. He glared at my friend and I, immediately he grabbed both of us by the arm and dragged us outside of the class room. He whispered in my friends ear, then mine, that he would be our year head the following year and we wouldn’t be able to get away from him.
When I was twenty two and living in New York, I was viewing an apartment when the guy who was subletting it, rubbed his crotch up against my bum, really grinded. I left.
I’m now twenty nine, I am an adult with a career. I was at a work lunch and at the end of it I turned around to grab my bag and a man at the next table put his hands on the back of my neck and shoulders. I turned around and asked him what he was doing, and whether he thought it was okay to touch other people, strangers, and what was it about me that he thought I would be okay with it, I told him to keep his hands off of me. His lunch mate told me it was a joke, honey. I said he needs to get a better sense of humor and left the restaurant.
I was recently heading a project in work and I had to meet a rep from another company, a man, renowned professionally. His openly line was to tell me how cute I was. He also complimented my hands and asked me did I know why men love small hands on a woman.
In school, we would have free classes where we would go to a classroom to study and be supervised by a teacher. For my final year in school we had our free class on Wednesdays scheduled in the TG class. The male teacher would always make me sit at the desk directly in front of him. At the beginning I thought it was because I was one of the last in, or because I had a habit of talking to my friends instead of studying. But as time went on, I realised even when I kept quiet and didn’t take my eyes away from the pages of my notebooks, that he would still make me sit there. Or when I realised that when other people were talking, he would make me sit there but not them. He would make me sit there and he would stare at me, I can still feel his eyes staring at me when I tried to keep my focus and avoid eye contact with him by staring at my books. I would always from then on be one of the first rather than one of the last to arrive to class but he would still make me sit there. Boys and girls in the class noticed it and offer to help me avoid being sat there, completely unsolicited. One day, I arrived early, sat in the middle of the class, not the back, stayed quiet, and hoped that he would see no reason to have to move me to the top of the class. But nevertheless when the bell rang for class to start he ordered the person sitting in front of him to switch seats with me. I protested that I was doing nothing wrong and that I shouldn’t have to sit up there because I was early, I wasn’t chatting and I was studying. He ordered me again and again I protested, the rest of the class started to back me up. He let out a roar that we were to switch seats and everyone was terrified, including me, so I switched seats and he stared at me again, for the entire class. That lasted for the entire school year.
A colleague of mine said that I was good at the filing because I was a woman. He said that I was good at the fluffy “people management” stuff because I was a women. He said that I received special recognition award and an extra bonus at Christmas, because the company had to give it to a woman. He also says I’m cute like a puppy.
There’s more I’m sure. My friends too, there must be hundreds of these stories between us. I hope my boyfriend, my father, my brothers, my uncles, my cousins or friends have ever inflicted this kind of harassment on a women, but it’s so common, it’s so normal that the odds don’t seem in favor.
The worst was when I was 11 and my uncle tried to get into bed with me. He was supposed to be babysitting, and he’d got drunk. I can’t remember how I got out of it but I did and got to the phone where Mum and Dad had left the number of where they were. What puzzles me still is that somehow I already knew that if I told my Mum what really happened she wouldn’t believe me or would be angry with me so all I said was “Uncle Ted is acting funny”. They came straight home and Mum’s story was then just that he was drunk. But a little while later when i tried to tell her what really happened she sort of got embarrassed and shut me up, accused me of making it up. Like I say I kind of knew that would happen, but don’t know how i knew. I know this parent-denial thing is common but it’s tough when your own mother won’t believe you.
I was in hospital pregnant for a check – up, and the nurse left a (male) student doctor with me explaining he was going to examine me as part of his training. He smirked at me and didn’t even try to hide his erection. I was too exhausted and worried to do or say anything, but god I wish I had now. University College Hospital, London. Don’t leave female patients alone with male students.
I deliver a foreign language to primary school children in addition to being a full time secondary teacher. Today there was a cover teacher in the room with me as I delivered the lesson as usual. He stopped me mid explanation to address the children saying ‘sometimes the words come in the wrong order in a foreign language’, took it upon himself to micro-manage the class’ behaviour, and at the end of my regularly timed slot told me the lesson was too short. I am an experienced teacher who speaks six languages, but I am also a woman.
My boyfriend who I really loved at the time had recently told me he was ashamed of me. Not long after I was at a movie on my own – I’ve forgotten what it was called but it was set in the USA in the 1950s and the central characters were three cool young 50s dudes. Then one gets a girlfriend which threatens to upset their dynamic, and then one night when they’re all four together, the two other guys started making dismissive comments about her expecting their mate to join in. Instead he says – “Look, this girl means everything to me, and if we’re gonna stay friends, you’re gonna have to get hip to that”. I’ll never forget how good that made me feel, so unexpected, I cried a bit. I wish I could remember the name of the film. I left that guy shortly afterwards.
For years my brother used to send us pornographic images and ‘jokes’. It was awkward and for a long time I said nothing, and then I finally told him we really didn’t like them. He just laughed and called us prudes and kept doing it. Finally I had to tell him we weren’t talking to him or seeing any more until he stopped. He finally did stop, but was angry with us and cut off contact himself. But about a year later he got in touch and apologised, I think it was meeting a girl who he later married that taught him.