I took a job at a convenience store which sells a lot of alcohol. I’d been working there for a week when I was left in the shop by myself on a busy saturday evening. Where I worked wasn’t sketchy at all, just the occasional drunk. But a middle-aged man came in with his friends, jeering and shouting. When he sees me behind the till, he immediately leans over the counter, puts a hand on my shoulder and asks if a ‘pretty lady’ like me has snapchat. I politely say no, and don’t bother to correct him that I’m a trans-man. He tried to slip me his number when i told him i had a girlfriend and wasn’t interested. He starts shouting in my face, calling me a faggot, slut, etc, and insisted i was just playing hard to get. I then refused to serve him, At which point he said he was going to cut my throat after i finished work, before leaving. I called my manager as soon as he left, and all he said was “You should expect it” and chastised me for overreacting to a regular customer, and it was just an empty threat. I left that job within the hour, and I had to get my flatmates to escort me home. The guy was waiting, but seeing my male flatmates made him back off.
Working Asa human resources manager in a male dominated engineering consulting firm. I was the only female manager the firm had every had in their 35 year history. I was purposely excluded from meetings, was provided with incomplete information, was marganilized regularly, talked down to, told I was stupid, it was regularly implied that my human resources based skill set was less valuable the the predominantly male technical skill set. I was regularly subjected to bullying, sexual harassment, sexually jokes and innuindo. I watched the firm go from 27% female technical staff to 2% female technical staff at the hands of a single executive who appeared to want to wipe women out from the company – every time he laid off staff the “hit list” was predominantly female designers or engineers. These same women were paid less, recieved less promotion, and were kept on mundane entry level tasks far longer than any male counter part was. In the end, I was also fired and replaced by a man. Engineering has to be one of the worst industries for women to work in. I now work in a female dominated environment and I’m loving it.
The Vice President (male) of the company I worked for thought it was funny to show me (female) the business card of a prostitute, complete with a naked picture of herself. He was amused that the prostitute took credit cards, and wondered if she “swiped the card in her ass”. When I spoke out to the President (male) I was told to deal with it myself, and “talk to him” to “make him understand how I felt”. I made me very uncomfortable to be put in the position of having to correct a superior, after having just been the victim of harassment by that same superior. His response….it isn;t harassment if he didn;t intend it to be, if his intentions was just to make a joke then it’s ok to do it. The President took no further action and just swept it under the rug. The VP went on to continue to make sexist “jokes” to me and other female staff until he retired.
During a workplace safety/ethical conduct training event for a holiday job, a middle aged man asked to sit next to me. I was still a student at that time, two years ago. After a while the man started flirting, making suggestive compliments about my body, asking for my number and asking me to go out for drinks afterwards. He seemed intent on showcasing his wealth, bragging about his job title and his sportscars. When we took a short break he even draped his arm around my shoulders and waist, and he would put his hand on the small of my back as we walked. It made me feel really uncomfortable. He was wearing a wedding ring and I could see a photo of him and his family on his cellphone’s wallpaper. I dismissed his compliments, stepped away from him, turned down his date offers and tried to act as disinterested and professional as possible. I started browsing on my phone and flat out ignoring him, hoping he would back off. He didn’t. I decided that I would explain my situation to the presenter (also a middle aged man) during our next break, I guess I saw him as an authoritive figure that would help me out. I was really young and naive at the time, it was also my first “real” job and I’ll admit I was scared of speaking out. Quite ironically the last presentation before the break was on the topic of sexual harrassment. I will never forget the moment the presenter said “Men, be careful what you say, women can be very sensitive”. What constitutes sexual harassment, or ways in which women who have experienced sexual harrasment can get help were never addressed. The takeaway message was ‘Guys, be careful, or else some over-sensitive b**ch will get you fired for nothing’. I never went to the presenter afterwards, out of fear that he would also dismiss me as being “sensitive”. Is it over sensitive to not want a married man relentlessly flirting with you? To not want him touching you without your consent? I wish now that I had handled that situation differently. It also made me realize that when it comes to the eradication of casual sexism and victim shaming, we stilll have a long way to go.
I clearly remember the first time I was sexually harassed. I was maybe 7 or 8 years old and I’ve always been very tall and generally seeming older than I was. I was walking home from school which was about a 15 minute walk. When I was crossing the road, a guy eho was about 35 clocked me and wouldn’t stop staring at me. He got out of his way and even made a full 180 to start following me. I was really scared and started walking faster, but because my legs weren’t long enough, he eventually got to me, built himself up around me so I couldn’t escape and started asking why I was crying. He made it seem like he was hugging me so other pedestrians wouldn’t be concerned, but he started touching me and called me things like “pretty young lady” and asked how old I was to already be this beautiful. After a few minutes that felt like an eternity someone finally called the police cuz I wouldn’t stop trying to escape his grip and he had started to become rather violent. I’ll never forget this.
On the bus I rode every day when a man would start harassing, I would tell him “no” in every way I could possibly imagine. “I don’t date,” “no,” “I AM A NUN” (Italy, so this was not uncommon), the only effective way to get a man to stop harassing was to tell him that I was 1.) married or 2.) dating someone. If that didn’t work, I’d say I was on my way to see “my husband.” I’m not married. I bought a cheap ring and started wearing it on the bus to deter creeps.
A few days ago I went for a walk with a female friend in a public park, both of us attractive women in our 40s. We passed a man sitting on a bench who said hello and we stopped near him to admire a beautiful statue. He started to ask us ‘where are you from?’, ‘are you french?’. After initially politely saying hello back, we ignored him and kept chatting to each other but left quickly when we would have liked to stay there for longer admiring the sculpture. It feels so uncomfortable to have your space invaded by a stranger who is trying to get your attention when you’re clearly not interested. Saying ‘leave us alone’ or ‘we’re not interested in talking to you’ or ‘stop being a creep’ feels like an unwise thing to do as you never know how someone will respond to an overt rejection. There wasn’t anyone else around. Things like this happen to me all the time and I feel angry that men invade my space and my sense of safety. For what? So that they can feel powerful? Have attention from women? It’s not OK.
I was walking down a street in my neighbourhood with my sister (Im 14, she was 18) playing pokemon go, when a car beeps. We where unsure at first if the car was beeping at us or beeping at a car, but then it starts to follow us. to be safe we turned back the way, but then the car turns round (bear in mind this was a tricky corner to turn round in again.) and starts to follow us again, so we had to run for it. my sister and i where too scared to continue walking so we just went home, feeling scared and defeated. we had been going and playing pokemon go everyday until that happened and then we stopped completely. it sucks when you can’t even escape sexism in you’re own street. 🙁
I went to this fancy movie theater for a friend’s birthday, and while you watch the movie you are served drinks and food, and you just need to reserve seats a few hours ahead of time. We got there and were sitting chatting when a guy gets to his seat which is next to mine. He stares at me and says, “Oh wow! A pretty girl, lucky me!” I don’t respond; I don’t even turn to look at him. I’m staring straight ahead hoping he’ll ignore me, but he persists and says, “What no smile? Can’t you smile?” I give him a withering glare instead, but he keeps harassing me to be a “good little girl and smile.” Then he starts calling me mute and telling me to speak. He’s an older man, maybe in his 50’s, and I’m 22 but look more like an underage teenager, and one way he tries to get me to speak is by saying, “I have three iPhone in my car. I bet if I take you out to my car and show them to you I’ll get you to talk and smile”. The waiter then comes a few seconds after that, and he tells the waiter, “don’t speak to her, she’s mute. She can’t speak.” Thankfully there was another seat next to my friend away from the man, so I got up and switched seats. When the waiter came back, he asked me why I had moved away from my father, to which I responded, “He’s not my father. I’ve never met that man before in my life.” The waiter was shocked and said he was sorry. Then the waiter came back and started flirting with me while I was watching the movie and touched my face. I felt so utterly violated by both men.
I have recently turned 18 years old, but this is a problem I’ve experienced for the past 2 years. It is occasional, but still bothers me. I walk to and from sixth form everyday; my road always has at least one house under construction on it. Since I’m a sixth former, I don’t wear a uniform, just smart office-like clothes, basically I don’t look like a school girl, but I am. Walking down the street, I frequently get wolf whistled at by the builders (ages ranging from about 25-45 years) or them saying ‘hey gorgeous’ or something to that effect. I’m just innocently going to get an education, I don’t need to be worried about whether or not what I’m wearing is provocative as I leave my house each morning. This has been going on since I was 16; I’m still a child. It’s wrong.