I was at a festival with my boyfriend, walking hand in hand(!) when a man grabbed my butt. My boyfriend didn’t see it and I was so shocked that I couldn’t do anything. After he walked away I realized what had happened and stopped. I wanted to run after the man, tell him my opinion, ask his name so I could report it to the police somehow. But he was really tall, probably three times heavier than me, he was holding a beer in his fully tattoed muscular arms and most of all he didn’t seem that type who would want to talk with me. I felt ashamed, powerless and mad. I wanted to pour his beer in his face and shout with him at first but that really wouldn’t have solved the problem. Then I wanted to talk with him, tell him what he was doing but I had a strong feeling that wouldn’t have worked either. I told my boyfriend the story and my thoughts about it and he just seemed to not get it. He is the best person I know, he is clever, correct – politically and in other ways too – he is a feminist as well but he still didn’t seem to understand me. And more, he didn’t want me to react anything. In our country, the police wouldn’t do anything, one from every five men who are staring at me on the streets are from police cars, winking or just checking my body. Talking wouldn’t use either, my boyfriend said that it would have just got me in trouble. Maybe he is right. But the feeling of my powerlessness haunted me for weeks. It still haunts me. If it happened again, I still couldn’t do anything. I would have to walk away and hope that we don’t meet again.
My boyfriend telling me that if he asked me to wear makeup, it would be because he is just expressing an opinion, not because he doesn’t like me without it, and I should do it because it makes him happy – and don’t I want to di things that make him happy? My boyfriend seeing nothing wrong with the above.
I was recently dating a guy who had the same level of education as I did. We both were proud of personal involvements in industries such as the art, politics and economics and naturally we were both very opinionated on the goings-on in society and wider-culture. We would often enter debates about politics. (this was a hot topic as Britain had just voted to leave the EU) and whilst I love debating ideas, hearing the thoughts of others I found that he was willing but only up to a certain extent. We would be debate, sometimes disagreeing before he would suddenly reach over and kiss me and say “enough of this talk about politics” as if I should be more interested in kissing and sex than Britain’s political climate
When I had turned 15 I went on holiday with my family abroad. While we were at the hotel a male staff member pulled me by the hand and arm round to the back of the hotel away from guests. He pushed me against the wall and proceed to touch my breasts and French kiss me (after I wouldn’t let him kiss me) until I managed to push him away. When I returned back to England I told my boyfriend. He proceed to shout at me and argue with me, saying I had cheated on him until I apologised.
I remember being objectified as a woman as long as the boys noticed I didn’t just add ‘pointless’ tidbits to classes but I also had breasts. I remember in primary school the confusion when I argued with boys, even if I didn’t get it. I remember hitting puberty at school and being openly groped by a boy in my year at 14+ everyday at lunch with both hands and as a reflex laughing it off and feeling as if it was a compliment. I remember being harassed throughout chemistry about whether I ‘shaved’ or not. I wish now I had learned to make a fuss, not to just be complacent. I always believed myself to be a strong woman as I was always raised but as long as I just didn’t stand out too much. When I got my first boyfriend at 17 I remember being picked apart ’til I I felt there was nothing left, being called ‘unattractive’ in the shower and asked to lose weight. When I once plucked up the courage to tell him I thought he should get more muscle-y his response was simply ‘no’. I also remember the two times he raped me and how he apologised but did it again. I remember how it took over a year to come to the conclusion it was rape, because we were in a relationship and I guess these things just happened. I remember at 20 when my boss continually harassed me by text and after many rejections told me I ‘deserved to be in (his) pants’. I also remember how he stood in the way of another guy I liked, how he wouldn’t come near me because even though he appeared to be disgusted by his behaviour explained to me quite plainly it was kinda like a guy code. And I still don’t know by which of these two men I was offended more by. But I can say this. As a 21 year old woman I am loud, I speak out, I tell men and woman who are sexist exactly why their behaviour is wrong, I am sarcastic and I am confident. Because of projects like this I know I am not alone, that I do not deserve this and this behaviour is not normal. I now openly tell people my boss is a sexist prat that doesn’t have two brain cells to rub together and have managed discuss with friends the verbal abuse I suffered under my ex boyfriend and utter to even a few the categorical rape I have suffered. Because no this is not normal and no this is not okay.
The other night while walking home, i realized that i am stronger than he is. It was an idea i’ve never considered before. Me, stronger than the man I love. What if I know it, and he never does? Can I accept that role? Will it comfort me, or make me feel alone? The very idea of it made me feel like my whole world was turning upside down. And what if I’ve been the strong one before? But I’ve never felt it. Never acknowledged the possibility. I think it’s fine to say that women and men can have varying roles within a relationship. But when you actually find yourself filling a role you never saw yourself in. It’s a strange feeling to sit with. I still don’t know how I feel about it.
I was taking dinner with my boyfriend, at the end he said he would like to pay, I was okay with it, but then said “give me a kiss in return for paying dinner”. I broke up with him after that.
Growing up in immigrant family (and having an immigrant boyfriend), I’m expected to fulfill traditional roles of a woman. My family along with my boyfriend’s family expect me to grow up, attend school, graduate from a university, and give up all of my education and job opportunities in order to bear a child afterwards. What’s the point of having a degree if I won’t be even using it for job? It’s a ridiculous expectation and I refuse to follow it. What’s worse, they love to ask this question: how many children are you planning to have? I always reply none or zero. Their response, “Oh, you’ll grow out of it.” My boyfriend has that assumption as well, and says, “It’s only natural for females. All of them (females) are like that.” It’s disgusting. I don’t want to be categorized by that just because I have a healthy uterus. Unfortunately, I experience everyday sexism from the individuals closest to me.