I was on a bus home alone late at night in South London and was on the phone to my boyfriend. I often call him when I’m in these circumstances as it makes me feel a bit safer. Whilst on the phone this random man said excuse me very loudly. I turned to him wondering what was wrong. He said ‘When you get off the phone you need to talk to me.’ I said ‘Do I? Why would that be?.’ He said ‘Because I have a nice face, and you have a nice face and we can talk about marriage and babies.’ This man was about 50. I’m 24. I would have loved to have told him to go fuck himself, but was worried in case he was getting off at the same stop as me and if he was going to follow me once I got off the bus. I turned back and started talking to my boyfriend on the phone again and very loudly joked about the ludicrous man old enough to be my father who wanted to marry me. I think the man felt a bit embarrassed after that and luckily he got off way before my stop. I’ve had a lot of similar experiences with men thinking their harassment is light hearted and ‘just a joke’ I find it so frustrating because for me nothing about these experiences are amusing. Being made to feel unsafe everywhere I go is not funny, it’s disgusting and it in infuriates me that there don’t seem to be any public awareness campaigns on public transport and no formal channels to report these instances of harassment and prosecute these individuals.
I had to liaise with an external company to hire some audio equipment for an event at work. Now…I’m not going to claim to be an expert in audio equipment, but I can find my way around it if required and, after nearly 30yrs of existance as a woman, I am more than capable of realising when somebody is bullshitting me. The guy tried to bamboozle me with big long explainations, every so often throwing in a comment like “I just don’t think you’re understanding, hen…” and when he gets here I find out that he is literally just plugging in a cable and sticking some wires to the floor and charging us through the nose for it cos he knows that at this late stage I have no choice but to go with his company. He also tried to mansplain gaffa tape to me…….of course I’ve heard of freakin gaffa tape, who hasn’t heard of gaffa tape? Jesus man…
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 (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
In summer this year, I was locking up my bike on university campus. It was a hot day so I was wearing a shortish dress with bare legs -not that that matters in the least but I guess that was the catalyst for what happened next. A young guy, total stranger and likely a student was standing outside a newsagent a few feet away and he was staring at me as I fumbled with my bike keys. I looked up because I could feel his eyes on me, and he sneered at me, ‘you’re a dirty little slapper’. It caught me off guard and I said ‘what?’ and he began a tirade of demeaning insults, calling me a ‘slag’ and a ‘disgusting whore’. An unprovoked, unexpected misogynistic attack that I naively believed had ceased in our society, from a man I’d never seen before and never see again upset me more than I ever would have imagined.
I’m currently arguing with a man who said Madonna ought to have retired by now (in a thread about her recent speech about misogyny). Not only doesn’t he get the irony of his comment in light of the video, but he’s justifying it by reference to Paul McCartney having retired already. A fact which is not only untrue, but deeply irrelevant as Paul McCartney is almost two decades her senior and actually of retiral age. But it’s ok because apparently Madonna is inappropriate for making a joke about feeling more comfortable with something hard between her legs, while McCartney would never do anything like that… I’m not even sure I’m that big a fan of madonna’s more recent work but I can’t seem to back away from this twit. How does he not see his comments are exactly what her speech was about?
I was standing alone at night waiting at a bus stop when a taxi driver stopped the car, I politely replied “Sorry, no thanks I don’t need a cab”, in which he responded “How much for you?”. I replied for him to leave me alone and that he was disgusting. He became furious – shouting at me names like: “slut, whore, you’re not that pretty anyway, etc”. Mind you this is the middle of January on the East Coast, I am fully clothed, wearing a winter jacket, scarf, etc. I have never felt so scared in my life, alone, helpless, how could I even defend myself? Someone who weighs less than 100 pounds and this man is double my size. Could I really stand there and argue with him? Call him names? Was he going to try and assault me? What would’ve happened if I called the cops? Would they have said I was being over-dramatic? I ran away and called my friend to pick me up. That is all I could do, and I’m sure many women can relate.
Everyday at school I’m subject to rude looks by boys. That’s because they claim I have “big tits.” Furthermore, ever since Trump won the presidency, they keep on telling me they want to “grab me by the pussy.” I must admit, my breasts are quite large, but boys have no right to catcall me in such a degrading manner. I mean, who would they feel if I said I’d “grab them by the dick.” That’s why the world must come together to end the horrible misogynistic, sexist, and racist society that has plagued our downhill country today.
Another intersection of sexism and ableism… and ageism, too, really. I was out doing some grocery shopping in Lidl a couple of weeks ago, in the electric wheelchair I use, and I lifted up a mid-weight medicine cabinet I wanted to buy and propped it over my lap, on the side of my chair, without any real difficulty. I took it to the till queue, and when I moved to lift it and set it down on the conveyor belt, a man I’d never seen before in my life came up behind me and decided to “help” me with it — never asked, never even spoke to me before he did it — and he grabbed the box out of my arms, and by yanking the weight out of my grasp, he dislocated my shoulder in the process. On top of that, if you can believe it, he then got angry at me for calling him out on his behaviour (even though I did it politely) and pointing out that if he hadn’t “helped”, I would not have been injured – *and* he refused to help me relocate my shoulder (a woman of about my age a bit further back in the queue helped me put it back). I am fucking fed up of being treated like I couldn’t possibly ever handle anything by myself just because I happen to be (a) young, (b) a woman, and (c) a wheelchair user! This kind of crap happens far too often, and it’s nearly always men who do it. That said, however, I have neither forgotten nor overlooked a *delightful* incident from a couple of months ago: In that particular instance, a woman about a generation older than I am decided that she was going to “help” me get off a bus, all along talking at the top of her voice and half the time in third person, to show everybody else on the bus how she’s soooo charitable and a better person than they are, helping this poor disabled girl (that was the way she was acting, and it was frankly humiliating)… So I said to her, “Look, thank you for the offer, but really, I’m fine, I can manage without help.” She ignored me at first and went down to speak to the driver, again at the top of her voice so the whole bus could hear, even though I’d already pressed the buzzer to let him know I needed the ramp to be put down at the next stop, so she didn’t need to talk to him at all. I said it again, and a little more forcefully because by then she was actually getting in my way when I was trying to turn my chair around, and next thing I know, she’s effing and blinding all over the place, calling me all the disgusting names under the sun, with ableist insults, ageist crap and some equally nasty misogynistic epithets no woman ought ever to use to another… and all I’m doing is just trying to get off the damn bus and go home, and she’s shouting swear-words at me at the top of her voice… eventually I just yelled back “Oh, fuck off and grow up!” when I was finally off the bus, quietly apologising to the bus driver for the scene – and she had thoroughly triggered my PTSD by then. The closest comparison to that incident with a man? Well, that was also on a bus, but it actually began with him physically assaulting me, after which he went off on a similar verbally abusive rant – but he wasn’t even pretending to try to help me. Just loud, misogynistic, ableist, ageist verbal abuse all over again. I posted that incident on ES shortly after it happened, in 2012. I am so very tired of people who think they have a right to “help” me against my will, almost always without asking, and are not being helpful at ALL. Every single time someone has done that I have ended up with either a physical injury or a damaged wheelchair. And eight times out of ten it has been a man who has tried it. I am just so tired of it all.
I was out for a run this evening, enjoying the warm sunny weather. I am training for a marathon so I’m out running most evenings and I have met plenty of pleasant people. Unfortunately this evening I was passed by two ignorant men in a red transit van who beeped the horn at me as I was waiting to cross the road. One of them shouted “GIVE US A SMILE SEXY”. All I could do was gesture at them but they couldn’t meet my eye. Why do some men think this is acceptable or entertaining? I was so angry because I am working hard to achieve something and yet because I am a woman I was made to feel self-conscious and even slightly ashamed of my body.