Yesterday one of my closest male friends and I were reading a feminist magazine and he actually started explaining the concepts to me. I knew the concepts, and though I might not be as well read as he on feminist literature and philosophy, I acutely experience these things every day. I just really took issue with it. Later, this same friend made an offhand comment about how unfortunate it is that ugly women never get taken seriously in society (after explaining how he made out with a very problematic person because she was hot). I’m not the best looking woman, and I have dealt with that, so it stung. I’ve felt bad since.
Whilst sitting outside in the smoking area at my local pub (with one female friend and one male friend, known from school days), we were joined by a group of three women. Summer Sunday drinking and a lovely evening combined, one of these women asked my friend “as a man, do you prefer a shaven or unshaven muff?”. My friend responded that if he were honest, he prefers shaven. A discussion ensued: pro’s and con’s, hygiene, media influence etc. After several minutes of good conversation/debate, we all agreed with each other that, at the end of the day, it’s the woman’s own choice what she does. Yet, after this fair and honest conclusion, my male friend and one of the three women who joined us continued: M: Exactly; it’s fine if a woman isn’t shaven, as long as it’s neat and trimmed, you know? I mean I do, I’d expect the same in return F: Yeah, that’s the same as me- I’ve been with my boyfriend for 11 years, and we have always maintained our pubes as neat and trimmed down. It’s just fair, isn’t it? M: Obviously it’s kinda gross when you can see pubes under a woman’s bikini on the beach an’ stuff. F: Yeah, I wouldn’t be able to go out looking like that- it’s embarrassing isn’t it, other women put in the work so why shouldn’t they? M: Yeah, apart from the older women though. You know, Mum’s of three and that kind of thing. F: Well yeah, they’ve pushed three babies out of there, they deserve… M:… They’ve worked hard, they deserve a break! (all laugh, fake or not) I never gave my opinion on matters after this, although we finished out cigarettes fairly swiftly and went back inside to play pool after this. I was shocked that my friends, and a group of young women who brought up such an interesting point in the first place, could so blindly fall into the traps which they had just refuted. I wish I could have had the courage to tell them my point and feelings at the time, however, just prior to the above conversation I heard one of the group of women respond to a question with “oh no, not that feminism stuff, no no, just asking about body hair”. This knocked my confidence in the group somewhat, feeling in the minority with my opinion, thus I write it down here for you to read.
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 :).
My parents are divorced, now, and I don’t see my dad anymore, of my own choice. But when when my parents were still together, I remember my dad would get home from work, sit on the sofa and watch television, almost everyday of the week. My mum didn’t work so he expected, when he got home from work, that all the dishes would have been cleaned, the clothes would have been washed and the whole house would have been tidied. Then for dinner to be cooked and laid on the table once she had picked up my brother and me from school. In theory, it sounds easy enough for her to get all this done in one day, but that’s just theory. There are so many more little things she has to do and everything takes time. If any of it wasn’t done my dad would say: “Well what the hell have you been doing all day?” as if she had been sat at home twiddling her thumbs. Married women with children who don’t go to work are often called ‘Housewives’. But personally, that doesn’t make sense. She isn’t married to the house, is she? Though equal rights have come far from when women couldn’t even vote (in some countries they still can’t), there is still this expectation that men have of women and of their wives. If a wife is a stay-at-home-mum then she has chosen to look after her children, the future of this world, than to earn money. Many men still think, “Well I earn the money for this household so I don’t need to do much else.” But that isn’t right. That isn’t being equal partners. This condescending outlook is part of the reason my parents aren’t still together, and part of the reason for many other couple’s divorces. Most people have normalised this behaviour so it is often overlooked, especially in the man’s perspective who doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong. But it is the women who notice it, get fed up of it, and stand up against it. Yet when they do, they are seen as nitpicking at the cracks in the relationship, like they’re almost trying to create a problem. I wish this didn’t happen. I wish that women, or even people in general, were not stereotyped or judged for their gender. When I say I’m a feminist, most people think I’m a ‘bra-burner’ or that I’m ‘bias to the female gender’. It’s like people don’t even know the true meaning of feminism. If a guy was a feminist, he wouldn’t be questioned on how he must hate men. Yet many people would ask, “How can you be a feminist if your not female?” I think feminism is underrated and not enough people talk about it, openly. The feminist movement is quite a slow one at that as there is always going to be someone who disagrees and with such things as female chauvinistic pigs, it seems rather hopeless. I think there should be lots of safe places online and IRL for people to talk about these issues, otherwise nothing is ever going to change. Awareness is key, and I just don’t think there’s enough of it.
I need feminism because when I was 4, we learned the colours. After class, a group of boys came up to me and asked what my favourite colour was. I said “blue” and and one of them replied, “you can’t like blue, it’s a boy colour”. Upon telling him that my dad’s favourite colour was purple, I was told, “your dad must be a girl then”. I didn’t tell my dad because I thought that being compared to a girl would upset him too much. My dad is a feminist. I need feminism because when I was 13, my class worked on a project with NATS AIS. In the final stage of the competition, I was transferred into a group with 6 boys ‘for representation’. As project manager of my last team, I assumed that I’d have some creative input and delegation opportunities. I was put on research with a guy who played 2048 the whole time but still took full credit for the work I did. One lesson, the project manager was away so I took it upon myself to show some initiative and start the PowerPoint presentation. The next day, it had been deleted without a thought and a new one was being made; it was exactly the same but grammatically incorrect. When I tried to argue, I was called bossy and told to ‘get back in the kitchen or wherever [I was] supposed to be’. I need feminism because I saw the bewildered look on Harvey’s face when I did better than him on a physics test., despite the fact that I had beaten him on every science test beforehand. He used to call me dumb every lesson, still does. He just can’t believe that a somewhat attractive girl has the capacity to be good at science. Or maybe his ego’s just big. I need feminism because a girl I go to school with got raped by a boy in our year. For three weeks leading up to the event, she had reported him to the school 6 times for touching her inappropriately in class, she even had witnesses. He got a ‘serious talking to’ and nothing more. He wasn’t even moved away from her in class. She came into school crying and she stopped talking for a few days. One of our mutual friends got really mad at her for ‘being over-dramatic and complaining too much’. When I got angry at this, she said “well if it had been me, I would’ve just told him to stop and kicked him in the balls’. I had no words.
My housemate went to a quiz night, he’s just walked in and said – ” We won the quiz and we had a shit hot name – ‘Quiz on my face and tell me I’m pretty’. “
My housemate (he’s 24 years old, I’m 32) – “Women should never shave any part of their heads, it’s a big turn off for a man. So if you do it, just so you know – I’ll hate it!” I did it – I fucking love it! : ) MY HEAD, MY HAIR He also added, “Women should never have tattoos on their arms or any part of their body that are obvious.” I have a tattoo on my wrist, my shoulder and my pelvis. And just for you, Adam – I’ll soon get a whole sleeve of tattoos, on MY BODY
I am disappointed in the country’s choice of a new president, and ever since the election, I am outspoken about it. Without resorting to false information, memes, and name-calling, I make intelligent researched arguments on the topic. However, posting on social media draws a host of men who attack me as a woman to knock me off course or attempt to upset me with creepy comments. One man told me he wanted to “collect my tears and drink them,” or perhaps he could just “lick my face.” Another man, in an attempt to be derogatory, said, “you must be one of those feminists,” and that he “should have known there would be alligators in the water.” His fiend told him to stop attacking me because I am “super hot.” Since the election, I have heard every kind of screwed up opinion on reproductive rights. I spoke out to someone on this, and he told me, “because I like you, we’ll deport you last.” I am angry that women’s voices are dismissed repeatedly as unimportant, whiny, or irrelevant, and the only way for a woman to merit respect is to be “super hot.”
I want to talk about the sexism in a relationship, specifically mine and my experience. My boyfriend gets upset when he asks me to do something like grab him something to drink or go do him a favor and I say I can’t because I have something of my own to do. He also beat me sometimes and he says it’s my fault because I nag him too much or I shout. He also always wants me to have perfect and straight hair when mine is curly and always wants me to dress sexy because he says I look like a man if I don’t. He always insults me and says I’m fat and ugly and offends my family and if I do anything like that he gets so angry I can’t control him. He always likes other girls’ pictures and looks at other girls and makes sex jokes right in front of me but I can’t even look at one of his guy friends (who’s also in a relationship) while he’s talking to me. I always have to clean up after him because he says that’s a ‘woman’s job’. He also says he doesn’t know how to be romantic but he certainly knows how to put me down. He always says I’m good at nothing because I don’t know how to cook.. I’M 16 YEARS OLD! Before I was in a relationship with this guy I was going out with another guy.. I was still a virgin. I went out with him once and we were outside near the fields looking at the stars. Suddenly he starts kissing me and taking my clothes off and I started pushing him off and telling him I didn’t want to. He said he wasn’t going to put it in but he did.. and when he finished he said ‘Haha I still got my way’ My now boyfriend knows this guy and knows what happened. The other guy told everybody and without knowing the whole story my boyfriend called me a slut. If my boyfriend doesn’t want to have sex he will simply decline but when I don’t feel like it or get tired he will just ignore me because if we don’t have sex there is nothing else he would like to do with me like talk or something. I also once had an experience with my mum’s boyfriend. He was really handsy and would always touch my butt or my boobs or walk into my room without knocking. I never told my mum until one day when he came to give me 20 euros and he put it in my bra as I was washing the dishes and I was so sick of it that I told her everything. When I told her about the thing with the 20 euros she replied ‘So? He didn’t touch your boob, did he? So what’s wrong with that?’ I know a lot of people accept this kind of behavior because they believe that a man is superior to a woman.
In my university where I study art, there are classrooms around our art studios where they teach plumbing, construction, etc. There isn’t one female in any of those classes, all just guys. They frequently catcall, whistle and comment sexual remarks to the females in my class. This happens frequently and it is not okay.