Tag Archives: Public space

Mary

At the car dealership I was asked to look at something that would make the cost of the work done to my car less expensive. It was some sort of consultation. I told the man working behind the desk that I did not want the consultation. He handed me a sheet of paper and replied with, “at least take this and let your husband look over it for you” Nothing I said before had alluded to me having a husband. I don’t have a husband. I’m a single mom of two kids. And yet he made an assumption, first, that I couldn’t do the work that involved MY car, and second that I had a husband to do this “manly” work for me. He wouldn’t have asked a man to get the opinion of his wife, but he assumed I was incapable and that I misunderstood because he thought I was inexperienced in this field merely because I’m a woman.

Claire

I was 17 walking home from school. It was sunny and warm and i was sweating and tired. I was in my uniform, a too-long skirt and jumper with a bag that weighed about a third my own weight. I was rounding the corner to my house when a group of around 8-10 boys walked passed and started making very uncomfortable comments about my body and what they wanted to do to me. I kept my head down, my face was red and I was mortified, but the thing that brought the most shame was that these boys were really young. One to me looked to be about 10 or 11 and was loudly making extremely suggestive comments. It’s really embarrassing and uncomfortable to feel fear and shame at what kids younger than you are threatening you with and I ran home and took an hour long shower to try and forget. But that was 3 years ago and unfortunately only one of an uncountable amount of times something like this has happened.

gabby

I was walking in the city and I was wearing some tight dress pants as I had a music competition and a guy started to walk really close behind me and wouldn’t go away even when I turned around and gave him a ‘don’t mess with me’ look, but he still persisted in walking extremely close until I got to my destenation. I’m 14.

MC

I never really go to school dances, but the one time i tried it was a few months ago. i will never go again. i got dressed up as i assumed i should and felt really good about myself. i got there, met up with friends and had a great time. halfway through, we took a trip to the bathroom together (as we do), and i realized that all my friends wore shorts under their dresses. i didn’t think i needed to, because i don’t go to these kinds of events and don’t know. when i brought it up, they all looked at me as if i was crazy for not assuming i needed them. turns out i did, as i was assaulted by a kid about half an hour later. he reached under my dress, pulled at my underwear and snapped them, like someone would snap a bra strap. he laughed and tried to do it again, but i got away and got myself lost in the crowd of people. nobody saw it happen, and when i told my friends, they said, and i will never forget it, “that’s what happens when you don’t take plan and take precautions”. WHY ON EARTH IS THAT A PRECAUTION I NEEDED TO TAKE? TLDR;; I didn’t know i needed to wear shorts under dresses at school events, and got assaulted by some kid. friends said it was my fault for not planning that it would happen.

Nick

When I was young, probably about 11 or 12, I decided I wanted to sunbath. I put on my new swimsuit, my first bikini, and went out onto our front lawn because it had the most sunlight at the time. Maybe fifteen minutes my mother rushed out to bring me inside, clearly more than a little freaked out. When I asked why she told me I should be more modest. Later I found out she caught a man across the street staring at me.

Madeline

When I was 15 two older boys gave me alcohol and took it in turns to rape me then told everyone at school and college I had consented and boasted that money had changed hands, that they had pumped me out to eachother. They since tried to introduce me to other men under the same circumstances, but knowing what would follow, I fled. I was at uni a few years later when I told a guy *no* and he paid no attention. I have been in numerous night clubs where I have been groped, fondled, and shouted at by complete strangers. I have had sexual expletives yelled out of cars at me. I was sexually assaulted when working as a care worker, and currently on my welding course one man thinks it’s ok to talk about my vagina repeatedly. Being a woman is a hard job and we are viewed as the “weaker” sex. I don’t think so.

Anon

While at a mental health daycare centre, some of the men and boys got into trouble with the group leaders for looking up porn involving images of women on the computers. Why the males had to look up these images in the early afternoon on a week day in an open workspace and not at home late at night in private in their spare time is beyond my understanding. None of the women (even ones with severe learning disabilities) dared to look up porn on the network computers at the centre. Lots of visual porn seems to be tailored towards a male audience anyway. The men who looked up the porn on the computers were yelled at by the female group leaders and banished from the tuck shop. The men were then told by the group leaders that they could only marry and have one partner during their lives because that was what Jesus said to do. I know that these men transgressed by looking at porn during daytime working hours, but the way the female group leaders were trying to police the men’s private lives and script their sexuality was very disturbing. I have to say that the female group leaders’ involvement seemed unethical and interfering, but I was powerless to do or say anything about it. They sometimes said that the men were “useless” and “lazy” at doing certain tasks compared to women which was incredibly sexist. Some of the men tried to talk to me about porn and how they thought women should behave in the bedroom. At the same time they were parroting the “everyone has a special destined someone of the opposite sex to marry” lines said by the female group leaders. Everyone was automatically assumed to be heterosexual and straight there because well “Jesus says so”. It was bloody disturbing. I never signed up for this: I was an atheist. It didn’t matter how many video games I played at home or what my interests were, the female group leaders referred to me as a “sweet girl” even though I was a grown woman. Disturbing as heck. I honestly would have been better off talking to a brick wall and listening to the echo than hearing all the tired out gender stereotypes trotted out by the “God Squad” at that place. At least when you talk to a brick wall, you get some sense echoed back, unlike what I heard at that “mental health” establishment. Never ever going there again. It isn’t that I dislike Christians, some of my best friends in the past were Christians! The difference between them and the mental health group leaders, my friends unlike the group leaders didn’t try and shove their religious beliefs plus gender stereotypes down my throat. My Christian friends in the past let me be me and didn’t interfere in my private life because they were decent caring people!

Lauren Daisy

My night started as it usually does – what shall I wear? Argh. The right mix of attractive but not sexy, to feel good about myself but not to draw attention. It’s a fine balance apparently. And you know, going to see a band you are going to keep it pretty casual. Right ready to go. It’s 7pm. It’s daylight. I park the car at the top of town and walk in to meet my friends. Uh oh. The split second of anxiety in your gut as you see a group of about half a dozen guys in your path, fancy dress, stag do most likely. They are at the cash machine. I should probably cross the road. But it’s daylight, it’s 7pm and it’s my hometown. I don’t need to cross the road or feel intimidated. “Slut.” The murmour of a word catches my attention. “Sorry, what did you just say?” I ask them repeatedly. “Nothing, I didn’t say anything.” One replies. “He called you a slut!” The sting of one little word that probably meant nothing to him. “Banter”. Well he obviously doesn’t know what it feels like to be objectified and intimidated. I’m reeling and I want to get away from them. I check my reflection in the mirror. Was my lipstick too red? My hair too blonde? No, I do not feel ashamed or embarrased about myself, I feel F**king. Angry. And yet once the anger subsided I was afraid to return to my car alone later that night. Having grown up in a society where cat-calling has until recently been socially acceptable and very common I have a sense of what clothes I know draw attention to me and those that don’t. And I suppose after 14 years of that (i’m 28) I was massively caught off guard that night. It was a small, drunk slight that doesn’t compare to the devasting and life-changing acts of sexual assault and rape that are committed against women every day. But it does expose a rape culture in our nightlife and particularly stag dos, where it’s apprently ok to call a total stranger a sexually explicit name. Someone said to me if you wouldn’t want it to happen to your daughter then it is not acceptable that it happened to you. I wouldn’t want it to happen to my son either. So I am calling it out. And I hope that this encourages other people to do the same.

Young Woman

Being violated by stares that are alarmingly intimate while standing at a bus stop near a busy intersection. Men licking lips. Men whistling. Men rolling down their windows. Men shouting things. Men hitting their co-pilots on the shoulder and pointing me out. Men making phone signs with their fingers and putting it up to their ears, “Call me.” Men doing U-turns and driving by again. Women looking me up and down like I am some mannequin at a department store. Men trying to open conversation with me on the bus. Finally getting to my destination and seeing it absolutely littered with bright pink mini-skirts and dresses that barely cover the butt, worn by giggling women-girls of Asian descent. Sometimes I hate being a woman in North America. I wish every man had to experience this intensity of sexism for at least a year. There is no way to escape sexism but to get old, because women have expiration dates in just about every culture. And by the time you reach your expiration date, there will be deceptive advertisements for Botox persuading you to try to reclaim lost youth.

Hairy girl

Being a Hairy Girl, I started waxing at a young age (11) due to comments I’d begun receiving from friends and family, saying I need to shave or that my leg and arm hairs are ‘ugly’. Now however, I’ve grown to love and accept my hairs meaning I no longer see waxing as a necessity, though I enjoy the silky result. Nevertheless, this year there was a 3 month period where I did not wax (it ended last week) and during those months, the amount of comments I received was honestly ridiculous. At the start I just felt embarrassed and uncomfortable but by the end I felt almost angry. I find it SO ABSURD that because I am a female, I have to remove something I was born with in an effort to seem more feminine and pretty, yet guys don’t need to do it and if they do, are ridiculed. I cannot believe the amount of boys that have had the audacity to tell me I “need” to shave. This is MY body, and the fact that I should even ‘HAVE’ to shave in the first place because of stereotypes is absolutely infuriating. Meanwhile, to the girls who have told me similar statements, I feel sad for them as they do not realise shaving is an option. I once had a girl friend of mine whisper to me as if doing me a favour, ‘You really need to shave because you look like a monkey’ as if I should be embarrassed by what I was BORN WITH. And the social injustice that though I am hairy, I have considerably less hair than most if not, all of my guy friends yet I am the one compared to a monkey?? The fact that women have to do so much to please society and that it has to do with our looks just makes me so mad. Now I wonder if I waxed for me or to put a stop to those annoying, hurtful comments. Stay strong fellow hairy girls xx