Tag Archives: Public space

M

The first time I remember experiencing unwanted sexual contact was when I was 8 years old. I was standing at a crossing waiting for the light to turn green when I felt someone groping my upper leg and bum. By the time I had turned around and told my mum the man had ran across the road onto another street. Little did I know this was the start of my acknowledgement to how dangerous and threatened I felt to be a young girl. From then on up until now (I’m 17 years old) I experience catcalling and all sorts of unwanted and suggestive comments whether they’re on public transport or just walking down the road. I am also tired of people saying “what do you expect? you’re wearing a short skirt/low cut top” In what universe was the way someone dresses ever justification or an invitation to be objectified. The idea that a young girl is “asking for it” by the clothes she wears is a huge indication of the sexualisation of children that has sadly become the norm. Last year, I was on the tube when I noticed a man had come to sit opposite me despite the entire carriage being empty, and he began touching himself whilst looking at me. And to those who say it was to do with the clothes I was wearing or the way I was made up: I was wearing a huge coat, tracksuit bottoms and no makeup. (I hate that I feel the need to state this but unfortunately that is the way some people think) As the tube filled up I didn’t have anywhere to move to and I had to endure this predicament for a further 30 minutes whilst people were either oblivious to the situation or chose to ignore it. This brings me to my post. I had just today gotten on the bus and had my headphones plugged in when a man sat opposite me, again the bus was empty and there were free seats everywhere else apart from the seat behind me where another lady was sitting. The man had called me ‘sexy’ with an aggressive and impolite tone, he later got offended when I didn’t respond to which I told him that I found the way he approached me and tapped me to take my headphones out was disrespectful. He then responded to this by saying that I should take it as a compliment because “throughout history and the definition of ‘sexy’” I “fitted the definition” He later went on to asking for my number which I politely refused to give, this angered him and resulted in him calling me antisocial and unable to accept a compliment. I told him I wanted to continue as I was by listening to my music and sitting through my bus journey alone so I plugged my headphones back in and let him continue to speak about my ‘antisocial behaviour’ and inability to take a compliment to which he left to sit upstairs after a couple of minutes. I turned around to look for a face of support from the woman who was sitting behind me and I received a look of disgust as if the entire thing was my fault and realised that it is so important for women to support other women. This made me think back to a few months ago when the girls and boys in my class were having a debate on why everyone should be feminists and the boys couldn’t come to terms with the word feminism due to the word having stemmed from ‘femme/female’ despite arguing that all men and women should be equal. Whats worse was that some of the girls and most of the boys were labelling me along with the group of girls who were explaining why feminism was important as scary, aggressive, man-hating and most hated term of all ‘feminazi’s’. When I got home earlier today I watched Laura Bates’ TED talk on youtube and decided to voice my opinion and gratitude as I feel deeply inspired, empowered and most importantly feel as though my voice matters because I no longer want to wake up in a world where an 8 year old is getting groped or someone thinks they are entitled to someones phone number because they called them ‘sexy’. And I especially don’t want to have to face these problems in the workplace where I am just as skilled as any other man in the office but I am treated like an object purely hired for the viewing pleasure of someone else. I don’t want standing up for myself to be seen as making a fuss or being too sensitive. THIS IS WHY WE NEED FEMINISM.

Sprained Ankles

Two weeks ago I was sitting at a bus stop when a women tripped over on the other side of the road. She lightly sprained her ankle – 6 people (both male and female) descended on her to help her up and see if she was OK. Which she was as she walked away. Today heading into work I badly sprained by ankle and ended up sitting on the curb unable to walk on it. Not one person round me even asked if I was OK. As I got up and started to hobble, people quickly looked away from me and two even laughed at my misfortune. The only difference was she was a woman and I a man, people care if a random women gets hurt but don’t if it’s a man.

bambi

I was stood at a bus stop on my own when a man in a white van (i hate how cliches always happen in everyday sexist acts) drove past me and beeped and whistled. I stuck my middle finger up at him, he then turned around and drove past me and shouted ”Bus Wanker” because I rejected his advances/compliment/abuse. How sad to do that when your driving on your own, guess I hurt his ‘pride’. All I’m sayin is that I’d rather be a bus wanker than a white van man….

Anonymous

When I was 11 I went on a guide exchange program in Holland and me my friend and my Dutch exchange partner were at this small playground at night. I was a bit nervous as being outside at night has always put me on edge but her mum could see us from the living room window so I wasn’t too worried. We were sat on the swings when these boys rode up to the playground on their bikes and then came over and started saying things in Dutch and laughing. I had no idea what was going on so just kept my eyes on the floor trying not to be noticed (I’m a pretty shy person anyway). Then my exchange partner nudged me so I finally looked up and all the boys were staring at me and grinning and the tallest one said something in Dutch and they sniggered and my exchange partner just looked at me like she didn’t really wanted to translate but she did and he had said ,”I dare you to have sex with me”. At this point I was panicking, and the boy was making sex noises and so I just said no and stared at the floor again. They all laughed and said some more stuff and my exchange partner said, “they’re saying you’re frigid”. After that they got bored and left. I was still quite shaken being a quiet 11 year old who had never encountered anything like that. But my friend and exchange partner just shrugged it off and said they were just ‘dicking around’. When we got back into her house her mum asked what the boys had wanted as she’d seen them from the living room window. I felt a bit embarrassed at being called frigid for not wanted to have sex with a random 15 year old whose penis would have frightened me just as much as a knife, even though I had nothing to feel embarrassed at all. Then I felt ashamed about feeling embarrassed about it because like my friend said they were clearly just dicking around and they weren’t going actually rape me. So I didn’t say anything to her mum and I haven’t mentioned it at all until now. Now I’m 14 and I can clearly see what happened was wrong and nothing to do with me, my body or how whether I’m fridid or not. Honestly I still worry about being frigid even though I’m 14 and just because other people are having sex it doesn’t mean I have to. My friends call me innocent because I haven’t watched porn and I don’t and can’t masturbate yet, even though they are only 14 too. This wouldn’t bother me it’s just it reminds me of what happened in Holland and I was pretty scared and secretly upset at what those boys had said so its not something I’d like to remember. I bet some people will read this and think I need to grow a thicker skin and get over it and that I’m overreacting and it shouldn’t affect me as much as it does. And that thought is quite scary in itself because it means that what happened is normal and it might happen again. I haven’t told anyone until now but it’s good to get it off my chest even if this is anonymous.

Doreen

Hello.. Firstly, i am the adult of tge child abused, experiencing rape at 17.. Domestic violence X 2.. I have experienced sexual assault during an intimate examination, believe he committed this act because i accussed him of being an inadequate coward – he was my GP – i called him so, as for past 14 years – am disabled – incompetence, neglect, and indured assault with another doctor whilst procedure of a colonoscopy.. Again it all connects.. Was informed yesterday police do not have evidence, they are unable to ‘find’ chaperone that was present during GP assault..she has moved..apparently.. The nurse at the surgery does not remember me telling her.. I feel, have felt for many years, that due to my past, being now 60yrs old a womanmetc., Discriminated against.. I have 3 full A4 ring binders full of written diagnosis, correspondence, initial complaints, proper procedure, even sending all this to No.10..Twice.. Stereotyping me in every respect.. Physically, Psychologically, Emotional, Mentally.. And visually.. Ive had Doctors/Consultants etc., laugh at me, attempts of intimidation many times, in many different hospitals, although one in particular its was every, bar one, from Doctor – Chief Medical Officer – CEO.. 17 in all.. So yes sexism is still very rife.. Thank you for reading this..

Carina K

Couple of years ago, I was working as a car-cleaner for a BMW Dealer in a small town in county Wexford. I had been working for them for four months when a manager started to call me “Honey”. I found it rather inappropriate in a work place, I asked him to call me by my name. Soon, an arrogant, stuck-up person (another manager) showed up, and started to explain that (and I quote) “…in this country ladies are called like Hon, Sweetheart or whatever men want to call them…”, so he started to call me “Darling”. From that day on, this manager visited me regularly at work. He simply brought to my knowledge that it would have been much better for me to become his “Friend with benefits”, if I had wanted to keep my -otherwise- underpaid and hard physical job. I relied on this income as I was married and had a family. I just wanted to work, earn money and spend it on my family. I didn`t want any trouble. They were extremely happy with my work, so I calmed down a bit when a 20-year-old girl arrived to the company (I was 39) to participate in a 9-month Internship as a receptionist, and this manager had found another amusement for himself in the person of that girl. (Literally, they spent the whole day together, the company supplied them with enough TIME, CAR and FUEL to travel to the next town where the girl lived so that they could have sex instead of being at work. However, this company REFUSED to pay me 35c raise on my minimum-wage FOR MY WORK!!! Apparently, this manager`s private activities was considered much more profitable for the company than my actual WORK – which is ridiculous and, I`d say, a crying shame) The only thing I wasn`t happy with was that when this girl went on holiday this manager came and started the harassment over again as he needed someone for sex. As I could observe it, he was literally “bathing” in the fame of being a “fashionable womanizer”. He literally could bother anyone UNPUNISHED as he was completely a beneficiary of nepotism at the company we worked for. Being famous for having more than one “Friend with benefits” simultaneously was his REAL enjoyment, rather than actually having sex with them. (And, he was a married man. I`m sure, no one envied his wife.) He often came and pretended in front of my colleagues that I was one of his “Friends with benefits”. I was warned for the second time not to fall out with that manager, so to save my job AND ONLY TO SAVE MY JOB!!! I slept with him for the second time. When his girlfriend returned from holiday, he dumped me saying that he couldn`t sleep with me after work anymore as I was dirty from work, and he wouldn`t take DIRTY WOMEN doing FILTHY jobs. As he has never been famous for his discretion, the whole company had been informed that I got dumped. (I was convinced that saying such a thing to me made him satisfied for his being rejected previously.) I tried to notify the head of the company about the humiliation and harassment but he then started to send me texts like (and I quote) “… Don`t f…ck with me, I am warning you, this is the last you`ll hear of me so remember this: don`t be slagging me off or you will be sorry!… I`m f…cking warning you don`t f…ck with me. … Let`s get one thing clear, you don`t want to f…ck with me!…” If you ask me, the guy must have been an emotional cripple. At a moment he came and said I was “priceless”, then he saw another girl, and texted me that I needed to “f…ck off” and delete his number, then when he got left without any date for the evening, he texted me requiring to “form a friendship” again – “with benefits”, of course, and then the next day he started all over again. He was a complete DEAD END, that you had only one choice with: turn around and leave. And, he was a shame in other aspects too such as he was wearing suit and tie, I mean, I expected a little more sophisticated manner from someone in his profession (Finance & Insurance). I couldn`t take the harassment and humiliation anymore as he and the whole company objectified me as his spare sex-toy, grabbed and thrown away, so after two months of being ashamed I quit my job. The most interesting part of it is that my reputation has been ruined, I couldn`t get a job ever since I left. I think this is also a form of rape when someone is blackmailed with their job. The most disgusting thing was how this company was covering his sexual harassment in every possible way. I have always known that eventually I would have been fired, if I hadn`t quit. This guy had spent two years stalking me after I left. I wonder what he was about to say… There had been a saying in town that “I was his obsession” as he couldn`t take his failure when I refused him. I didn`t. What I refused was being his toy, a blackmailed woman, and a public laughing stock in a small town like this – as he often publicised his “fresh adventures”. I wasn`t born here. I came here from another country to start a new life, and I haven`t done anything to deserve the hatred I receive now from men here. I am so sorry but around 40 I seem to be unable to be afraid of men`s threats anymore. I got over it – in the age. Nowadays, I don`t react to any comments of men, – not even nice ones. They hate me because although I lost my job, I kept my marriage.

Ariana E.

I was excited for my first day of middle school. I felt I was finally an adult. No childish games anymore. But I soon realised what being an “adult” really meant. Boys younger than twelve were making jokes about rape and sexual assault and I seemed to be the only one that cared. I knew I was going to have to deal with it. They weren’t going to change I unfortunately excepted that. Disrespect towards women was nothing new to me. At the age of ten I was asked to show my boobs online. At nine I was at the park and was hit on by a fifteen year old so I would give him the four dollars I was saving for the ice cream truck. It only became real when on the last day of school my friend Donna was slapped on the ass by a creep that sat next to me in science class. I begged her to tell the teacher, but she didn’t. She claimed it might have been an accident but I could tell she knew the truth. She was already relentlessly bullied by the other students this would hurt her even more. I decided I had enough of that school so I transferred. I transferred to a magnet school were I’d be surrounded by intellectuals. But it got worse from there. Our class President that promised equality makes rape jokes just to get a laugh out of his buddies. The most equality preaching student that I know still thinks this is just the norm. This is an epidemic. Parents at a young age teach what’s right and wrong so your child doesn’t end up like the kid in my history class that said ” its not rape if you like it”. My story is a common one. Please for my sake and for the sake of students just like me, make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

Tarry

Being called a “rude, ignorant bitch” by an old “friend” because I didn’t wave back at him as I didn’t see waving at me as he drove by. Why is it okay to speak this way to women without a second thought??? He actually expected me to apologise to him after he verbally abused me!

Lizzy

Went to the toilet in a pub in Hungerford (John O’Gaunt) . On the back of the toilet door was a vintage style sign that said the following: HOW TO PLEASE A WOMAN: Love her Die for her Take her to dinner Miss the game for her Buy her jewellery Listen to what she had to say HOW TO PLEASE A MAN Show up naked Bring beer The men’s toilet was decorated with Private Eye articles.

S

One story comes to mind. My friend and I were 12. We were walking home from the bus stop and these guys drive past and yell something from their car window. They whistled at us. We had modest school uniforms on. Jumpers, I had dress pants and my friend had a knee length skirt. We were 12 years old, but we felt this wasn’t something worth telling anyone, that it wasn’t important enough.