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T

While visiting home, and stopping at my father’s house, my neighbor came over. He had always seemed interested in what I had to say about school, and he had always been a very helpful person to my father (who is physically disabled). During the time he was over there talking with us, with my back to my father, and facing me, he pulled out his penis, and left it out for several minutes, attempting to get my attention, and gauge my reaction by constantly looking at me – all the while when my father was in the room, and he was talking to him. I left, unsure of what to say or what to do. I googled ten different ways about “what to do if a man flashses you”, or “what to do when a man shows you his penis”, various things of this nature. Everything I got back was anything from “men getting hot-flashes”, or “it’s not men’s faults they want to show off their penis”, and not a single result to help me with what I was experiencing. I called my best friend who said I should talk to the police. When I did, the police office asked “were you wearing anything revealing?”. He said we could follow through with this, but I should talk to my dad first, to see what he thinks. My father had believed me when I told him my story, and even more so when my mom told me about her friend having experienced the same thing as I had. However, my father had insisted we not say or do anything, because if he “rocked the boat”, he wouldn’t have the nice neighbor man helping him with his roofing, outside work, and etc. that he is unable to do on his own.

Sienna

When I first started to become really interested in programming and robotics and when I told adults this one of the most common responses I got was that it’s a really good career for me because I’d be able to work from home and raise a family… I was 11.

Hopeful Feminist

My cousin who is two year older to me, felt my breasts during the summer vacations when we went to grand mas home. He kept doing that all through the 2 months I stayed there. I was just 12 and didn’t understand what was happening. Now I am in my mid-30s and regret not speaking about it.

R

Whenever I get inspired to stand up and promote feminism and combat sexism from a video or article on social media, I become so downtrodden when I get to the comments sections. There are so many people invalidating the sexism that people face, calling them whiny, complaining that women can’t be pleased, that they need to deal with sexism because now they’re equal. Whenever I come upon these types of comments, I always end up thinking back to my own close relative who holds very similar views. He has set up arguments with me about feminism that I can never “win” because we’re playing by his rules, and my sources don’t matter, my experience or that of my friends doesn’t matter. He thinks that feminism is bs and has gone out of his way to defend actions against women based off a small thing that she was accused of doing, rather than acknowledging how all the hate, harassment, and threats she received were horrible and unacceptable. He could not put himself in my shoes or the shoes a woman who is afraid to be alone with a man. It hurts, that he is unwilling to have a productive, open conversation about these topics. He would rather just use me as a basis to build up his perspective of the world by shooting mine down. Because of all of this, I no longer trust him with any important issue in my life. Things are and will remain superficial at the moment. And considering how we grew up together, this really sucks.

Sarah

The more I look, the more I notice how often people speak as though everyone in the world is male. Ever noticed how many people when driving refer to all other drivers as he even though they can’t see the person clearly enough to tell? “What’s he doing?” “Jesus, I nearly hit him; he needs to look where he’s going!” All animals are “he” if you can’t immediately identify their sex. I tried referring to a spider as “she” just to see how people would respond and predictably they said things like “why ‘she’?” Never mind the fact that if you see a spider in your house it’s most likely female. Everyone and everything is male until proven otherwise. If you call a spider “he,” nobody bats an eyelid. Certain…corners of the internet are particularly awful for erasing women, feminine people and those who are attracted to men. I read one social media site for less than 10 minutes and came across the following: 1) An old riddle: “A beggar’s brother died. But the man who died had no brother. How can this be?” This only works as a riddle because people assume in the first instance that “a beggar” must be a man. 2) A screenshot of a Facebook profile photo showing JUST someone’s tattooed (and not at all hairy) arm. All of the 10+ commenters without exception assume the arm and tattoo belong to a man, even though the person’s name clearly showing in their Facebook profile is Laura. 3) A status about “…I was once swimming around in my dad’s testicles….” I don’t know about you, but I see a lot of these and I have never once seen “when I was an egg…” which would be far more accurate as it’s the egg that gets fertilised and begins to divide thus growing eventually into a person! It’s as if some people can’t fathom the idea that they did not start out as something associated almost exclusively with being male. 4) A joke: “One by one, many of my friends have become interested in men as well as women… I’m just sitting here, watching the world go bi.” Because “the world” consists exclusively of straight men, obviously. 5) “Sharks aren’t that bad. If a dude came into my house uninvited wearing nothing but a Speedo I’d probably attack him too.” Only men get attacked by sharks, you know. Certain sites, for example a lot of Reddit, consist almost exclusively of people speaking as if women don’t exist. It’s weird.

Ruth Thorpe

I tried to buy concert tickets online but the website didn’t work. An automated message from the site told me to contact the event organiser, which I did. He told me that the site was working. He asked me to phone him so that he could ‘walk me through’ the purchase on his laptop. By this time I had got the tickets using a different browser. A week later, the problem persisted. He flatly contradicted me at a meeting when I said the site was showing premium tickets as sold out. They were in fact sold out. He did not believe me when I said the site didn’t work on IE. He explained that IE is the most popular browser, so if the problem had been IE the website would have solved it by now. He said he was sorry I had been disappointed (his assumption) but stated that I would not have had a problem if I had bought my tickets two months ago. This man knows me. His attitude is disappointing, though if he’d been going for a real Olympic level of condescension he could have told me to calm down, called me ‘dear’ or (for a distinction) ‘dearie’.

Just another tired woman

An ex-boyfriend said to me “well, male orgasm is life giving, what’s so important about female orgasm?” Quote from ex-boyfriend’s father, who was equally sexist, “women are just from another planet.” This ex-boyfriend constantly gaslighted me, tried to rape me and insulted me on a regular basis which resulted in anxiety, self harm and eating disorders. I know people that told me women shouldn’t vote because they can’t make rational decisions. Another winner of an ex-boyfriend “some women just can’t get off, it’s not like they’re not enjoying it.” He was quoting Savage Love and frankly, what does a gay man know about female orgasm? He had terrible skills, by the way, and erectile issues, both of which I was 110% supportive about, but sure. It’s cool. My father used to compare the size and shape of my ass to my friend’s. He would point out every zit or flaw on my skin. He would point to my bra strap when I first wore one and ask “what’s that? [smirk].” Nearly every man I have ever dated has made comments about pubic hair and gave their unsolicited ideas of how it should be groomed. I am literally sick to death of having to hear what men like. Literally every waking second is like l am just smothered with “What Men Like.” And if you don’t do the things, you risk comments like, ‘when you wear your hair in a bun you look like a boy’ or ‘you look sick’ if I don’t wear makeup or “you dress like a flute player.” And everything is always just not the fault of men. I read an article about a Skype sex scam targeting men and it was literally full of entitlement. Something like, “she is a really beautiful girl. With a girl like this, you lose your head.” It’s the classic “I can’t help myself” story. I read an article about the health benefits of seaweed salad that went something like this: “seaweed salad can help with PMS symptoms. Men rejoice!” That particular article received a nasty-gram, which was completely ignored, I’m sure. Need I even go into the sexism in advertising? Scantily clad women are everywhere for men to ogle. They’re entitled and expected to ogle. Women are expected to take note quietly. It’s madness. We can’t live like this. I can’t live like this. Paranoid about everything. Hoping I can get through everyday under the Male Gaze Radar without comments on my appearance or being forced to hear or see “What Men Like.”

Anon

A quiet chat at home with my dad. He describes the cause of a negative outcome of a political discussion as being “because she was a woman”. Then he glares at me, his daughter. He has many qualities but he is also a stupid misogynist. I walked away feeling bad about myself and guilty for not having the wit to put him straight on the matter.

Summer

Talking to a ex-boyfriend who’s now a friend and we catch up via text often. I was telling him about my travels in Asia and how I was enjoying them but looking forward to going back to Australia because of a variety of reasons including I feel more discriminated for being a women in some Asian countries than at home. To which he replied “That’s weird that you have to worry about discrimination as a woman” To which I was so shocked and said whichever country you live in every woman could probably write a book about discrimination they have received and it occurs everywhere at work, in public, school, restaurant etc. Which was followed up with “Why so shocked? Maybe I’m just used to normal countries where women have it easier :P” Women have it easier!? I mean I am lucky to be from a country where women legally are treated as equals however they does not stop every day sexism in comments like this. They hurt me so much because people don’t realise how sexist and offensive it is. It’s a privileged male attitude which cannot understand what females go through every day. Just completely upsets me and tries my patience

Anon

As a young girl, I was reprimanded by older women for drawing or talking about imaginary monsters. I received a magnetic fishing game from a male relative as a present. My sister and I used mini fishing rods to fish out the magnetic fish. “The fish are dead now,” I said to my sister looking at the caught toy “fish”: “But look, they are zombie fish now coming back for revenge! Raaargh!” Just then my mother opened the door and was horrified. “Why are you playing such an awful game?” she asked: “Why can’t you play something nice?” “Because we caught the fish, so the fish are now dead. The fish aren’t happy that we caught them because they drank some pollution in the lake, then they mutated into monsters, so now they’re angry zombie fish,” I said matter of factly: “Haven’t you ever heard of zombie fish Mum? In the kids cartoon shows I used to watch, dead zombie fish plagued polluted waterways in America and were very annoying for anglers. An interesting eco-environmental social commentary. My mother was not impressed. My mother said my name in a severe tone, escorted my sister out, then said that I should stay in my room and not have any tea because I had been “bad”. When I saw my younger male cousin, he was allowed to shoot zombie people in video games and would even give me a running death count. Nobody batted an eyelid. Nobody ever told him off for shooting fictional zombies. My mother just told me to bring him lemonade and chocolate biscuits while he was “having fun”. He thanked me for the refreshments. It was very important to keep his strength up during the zombie apocalypse, so that he could aim accurately at those undead people that kept popping up like ugly rotting jack-in-the-boxes. The biscuits must have helped because he managed to kill all the zombies in the game and he seemed quite proud of himself. I congratulated him on his achievement. We had a cheery lemonade toast while dying virtual zombies groaned in the background. “For he’s a jolly good fellow for getting rid of all the zombies!” I cheered. My younger male cousin said that shooting zombies was tiring work and that he felt a bit peckish, so I brought him more chocolate biscuits. My mother wouldn’t have dared let me or my sister shoot fictional zombies. She wouldn’t even let us talk about them because they “weren’t nice”. My Mum asked me once if I was drawing a “nice” picture. I said it was a picture of vampire bats and monsters with fangs. My mother looked terrified and told me off. This made me very upset because I had put a lot of artistic effort and feeling into those drawings. I was upset because I hadn’t meant to horrify my Mum, I just wanted to express my creativity. How come boys are allowed to be interested monsters and zombies, while girls are told (especially by older women) to like “nice things” instead? When I was a young girl, I was encouraged to like baking cakes and sewing, not monsters or zombies. Female teachers at school said that little girls were made of “sugar and spice and all things nice”. Why are boys encouraged to be aware of dangerous animals, death and pollution while girls aren’t? Why do people (especially women) feel the need to protect girls’ “fragile, dainty” minds from “horrible things”?