Age 7/8 at school seeing a group of boys simulating rape on a female class mate and teachers doing nothing to stop them. Age 15 having 40 yr old friend of parents pressing thigh up against mine under table at charity dinner. Age 19 at holiday job being compared to topless model in calendar in workshop by group of 5 men in their 40s and 50s. Being grabbed and forceably kissed by a gas engineer in my home despite having said I was not interested. Male ‘friends’ telling me i cldnt be a lawyer because women cant do that kind of thing. I am now a lawyer. Many men and women telling me i am more like a man because I am not interested in makeup and care more about my abilities than my appearance.
I’m a sound engineer and a musician who has been surrounded by men professionally all my adult life. 99% of them have always been respectful and accepted the boundaries I set. I can indulge in their daft, sometimes ‘sexual’ banter but they usually know when to stop or when I’m not tolerating it. That’s the guys who know me and who respect me and and the job I do. Then there’s the other 1%, the ones who don’t know me, just see me working at a gig or enjoying banter with the guys I do know. They are the ones I worry about. One recent experience in one of these situations sums it all up. I was both working the sound PA at a local pub gig and providing an acoustic support for the main band. This meant I was both in front of the audience and behind them. By merely putting myself on stage to try and entertain people seemed to mean to one guy that I was fair game to him. After I’d played, a good and enjoyable set, I went into working mode to do the sound for the main band. The pub (a fair sized place) was very busy and I had to try and walk round the room to check the sound was good for the audience all through the pub. The first time I did this, a couple of people stopped me to say they’d enjoyed my set, that was cool if a little annoying as I was trying to work at that point. One guy stopped me by grabbing my hips as I walked past him and pulling me in far too close to tell me he liked how I played. I pulled away, but politely thanked him for enjoying the set and carried on working. Next time I walked the room to check the sound, I got a few nods from people but this same guy once again pulled me towards him, this time pulling me in to ‘rub’ against me. I pushed back more harshly this time, explained I was working and that he should let me work. He held on a bit too long muttering nonsense about how cool I was. I pulled away and walked away a bit annoyed but this is stuff I get at gigs quite a lot. I’m strong enough to resist and walk away or to give a verbal volley at them. The third time was not so easy. He grabbed me, pulled me in and wrapped his arms all around me so I couldn’t free myself as easily. He started ruffling my hair and rubbing his hands all over me. This is in the middle of a pub with loads of people looking at laughing thinking this is acceptable to me. It was not. I was struggling and frankly at this point was clearly telling him to ” get your f**king hands off me” and to ” leave me alone”. I struggled to break free and he tried to kiss me which resulted in me having his tongue thrust in my ear. I now had to violently pull away whilst people watched and laughed. One woman saw it and understood the situation and pulled him away whilst giving him a torrent of abuse. I think she actually knew him. I didn’t say anything to that woman at the time and didn’t see her or the guy again that night, but I thank her profusely. I walked away very shaken by what had happened and with a very wet ear! I had to get back to work. It was one of the loneliest feelings I have ever had when I got back behind the desk to continue working. The only people I knew in the place were on the stage performing and couldn’t help me. I was in a pub 50 miles away from home and was stood there feeling truly awful. I finished the work, packed away the PA and drove home. Since then I have spent more time doing studio work and not live work. I just can’t take the hassle any more.
Was asked if I was married while minding my own business one day while working (surveying) along a public footpath, so foolishly replied honestly with “no”. Immediately lead to repeated questions regarding going out with the man who asked. I said I wasn’t interested. This then changed to sex. Being propositioned multiple times a day by him, even though each time I either said no or that I wasn’t interested. I even tried adding that I have no interest in sex full stop, but that just led to criticism from him for saying no, and being told repeatedly that I was wrong and that I clearly did want sex but wasn’t letting myself have it (I genuinely have no desire). Sadly he is hard to avoid otherwise I would. Other times when out alone, I’m often asked why I’m alone or “where’s your boyfriend?” – Why can’t it just be ok for a woman (or man) to be alone?!
Sometimes when surveying or bird watching for fun, as well as being asked where my boyfriend is, I’ve had comments like “you were the rarest bird today” or, even worse I think, “I feel aroused when I see you”.
Night out in soho for my friends 30th. Its great. Been dancing in my heels. Get tired and call it a night. Walking along oxford street. Walking slowly due to heels (also in black tights, thick coat and a hat). Guy comes up to me. I think he’s asking for directions. He’s got a foreign accent so can’t really understand. He repeats the word disco. I say no i dont know any discos. He then goes on seemingly ask if I’m a regular. I say no i dont know the area. He offers me a smoke. I emphatically say no, and wave my hands in front of me saying no. He says something about business. I ask him to repeat himself. He says buisness. I say business? He says business sex. I say what?? He says sex. You sex. In horror i shout fuck off. I storm off and then turn around shouting after him what the fuck. He walked away. I’ve felt humiliated and disgusted ever since.
I’m Native American and wear my hair traditionally long. I often endure “wolf whistles” and catcalls from male drivers who mistake me for a woman. I also walk for my health on the local university campus and I recently noticed that I was apparently being stalked at a distance. Being a guy, I generally worry about guys wanting to pick on me, or wanting to fight. The guy following me kept at a distance, but followed me everywhere I went. I finally realized he also thought I was a woman (I had on thick winter clothing, and all he saw was my hair). This type of behavior would severely hamper my efforts to exercise if I were a woman. Because of my work schedule, I have to walk after dark (during the winter) and this has become a common occurrence. I have every bit of empathy for women who must put up with this type of suspicious behavior daily.
I was around 2 minutes away from my house and as I walked home, a boy taped me on the shoulder and told me to follow him, me being a nieve 13-year old I followed. I was suddenly in his house, I tried to escape but he shut the door behind me. He lead me to his bedroom and told me to sit on his bed. I sat and tried to make an excuse to leave but he kept interrupting. He started asking me questions- like I was being interrogated. Then he stood up and started undressing, I knew what was coming next. I stood up and said I cant do this and he said why me thinking on the spot said I liked girls and I was currently in a relationship. Then he got angry and said why did you lead me on them? At this moment in time, my head was in survival mode and I just said I didn’t and I had to go. I am 15, nearly 16 and I am worried that I will ‘lead boys on’, I am constantly worrying that there will be one day where I meet a boy and he will believe that I am asking for it. I ran home and cried about what nearly happened, I felt so alone and that I had nobody to talk to. The moment wasn’t even the worst thing, I see this boy once a month and I have to try to ignore it but secretly I know that he’s done it to many more girls. I walk past his house every day and it is a constant reminder of what happened. I have isolated myself from all my boy’s friends just in case any of them have the wrong idea but at the cost of losing some of my closest friends.
Im so sick of men and women who dont get that “Me Too” is about more then rape and sexual assualt. Its about the culture of the sexes and what we assume is okay. A lot of people still dont get that saying “no” is not easy because it can result in violence or verbal abuse (ever been threatend with being shot because you dident respond to the man yelling: “nice ass”? Yea im sure that telling him that i dislike that will totally make him stop…) Some people still think that a woman going home with a man Means that she wants to fuck him. Isent that a problem? Not only that she wants it, but that she should want it. This is another exuse not to respect her. We need to discuss that it is never ever okay to pressure someone to have sex with you. Its not okay to keep asking someone out when they said no. Its not okay to assume that a absent of “no” means “yes” .
Everyday the media tells me to always make sure I look sexy and that is how I’ll be worthy. I wish the men in my life would not just refuse to laugh Along with their friends and their sexist comments, but also say how that isn’t right and stand up for me and women in general. I feel like if I bring up that sexism is getting me down, men they feel like I’m attacking them as males and blaming them specifically rather than understanding me or listening to me and doing something about it. On my social work student placement whenever I had men come in to see me they would not give me eye contact and merely stare at my chest, talk over me and keep interrupting me and look me up and down as I was walking. I brought this up in supervision and I was told that they didn’t know what I could do and they were sorry. I’m sick of walking down the street and being honked at or asked How I’m going by random men. I hate that my parents don’t let me walk home at night by myself even though my brothers at the same age were never told this. I’m sick of not caring as much about who I am as a person than how I look because I’ve been told my entire life through the media that that’s all that matters. I can hardly sit through movies without feeling intense sadness that most of the roles of women in movies are sexualised in some way. I’m sick of going out with my friends and being boxed in by a group of men who want to talk to me even though I say I’m not interested. I was once out and I told them I have a boyfriend, clearly I did not want to talk to the . The guy just said; so what I don’t care. I’m sick of being made to feel like I’m not allowed to say this out loud and feeling embarrassed to even out my name to this story. But in the end it feels like every women experiences the same things, so what does my name even mean right?
I was at the the pub yesterday when a male friend of a friend who I had met twice grabbed my boob following a group conversation about boobs. It’s ok though, it ‘wasn’t in a sexual way’. I was shocked and in my shock explained that doing that isn’t ok. He apologised and then ‘jokingly’ grabbed my boob again later that night. I left, went home to my beautiful supportive boyfriend, who wanted to kick his head in, and I spent the rest of the evening crying. This was last night. I actually have this guys number so this morning I text him this: “ That was a horrible thing you did yesterday. I want you to know that, because even though you apologised, you didn’t seem to get why what you did was a problem. You cannot grab people like that and think whatever reason you give excuses it. You ruined my night with my friends and have really upset me. I wish I just punched you in the face because you at least deserved that. I don’t want a reply from you. I’m not saying any more about it now.“ I feel really upset and I don’t want to feel like this. I’ve done what I can to feel like I’ve got my power back and hand the horrible energy it left me with back to him. Supportive friends and boyfriend make all the difference.