Tag Archives: Public space

L

I have just recently learned that in my school almost all of the boys have been taking photos of girls butts and breasts. They share these photos with each other and “rate” us on scales from 1 -10. Many of these boys talk about how they don’t know how to talk to us because we have breasts and they we should not even be close to considered equals. There has been lots of talk about this issue with the girls and everyone is too scared to speak up. I’m not even hopeful anymore.

Tarry

Getting on a train on at 8am on a Sunday morning to go to work, a man 20 years my senior follows me to my chosen seat to tell me how “Beautiful” I am and to ask me for my number. He was drinking from a concealed bottle of wine the entire time. He seemed like a pleasant enough person in the end and he did accept my refusal to give him my number graciously (Although I did use the line “I don’t think my boyfriend would like that”, as though I need anyone’s permission to give out my own number) but I could have done without the whole experience. I spent 20 anxious minutes wondering if it was going to escalate into something hostile when I refused to give my number. Also, he mentioned about how he believes that men should “respect women always; we come from them after all! I can’t imagine the pain of bringing a child into the world”. Fair enough right? Seems like a decent fellow. Until I nonchalantly reply something like “Yeah, I’ve been through it. It’s incredibly painfu-…”. He shushed me immediately. He looked embarrassed, as though my commenting on how painful childbirth is was somehow akin to me giving a graphic description of my vagina during the event to a strange man, while surrounded by more strangers. He shushed me like you would a child and said there was no need to tell him, only to agree with him. Jesus fucking Christ that women still have to put up with such silly bullshit!

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.”

Charlotte

Just got cat-called by some builders while walking past on my way to work in central London. I am four months pregnant and was visibly wearing a ‘Baby on Board’ badge. I’m already feeling vulnerable and hormonal, this made me want to go home and cry.

Anessa

I was twelve years old, walking to the grocery store with my dad on a hot summer day. A group of homeless men began catcalling me, making references to the shorts I was wearing, my butt, and my legs. My dad turned and yelled to them, “you shut the fuck up!” I was glad he stood up for me, but I still felt embarrassed, and I felt like I embarrassed him, too.

Sophie

I was 19 and riding the New York City subway. I changed trains and realized that one man who had been sitting across from me on the last train was in the same car as me again. I thought it must be a coincidence, but as we got closer to the end of the line and the train emptied out, he stayed. When I got off so did he, when I turned a corner so did he, when I ducked into a store he waited. I was on my way to Fort Hamilton to talk to an army recruiter and knew I would be in there a while so hurried there and thought he’d be gone when I came out. An hour later, he was waiting by the gate. I’m usually a very confident person, but by this point I was scared. I told the guards at the gate what was happening and asked if I could talk with them until he left. They agreed and started telling me war stories. The man who had followed me appeared middle eastern and they made several comments about Arab men not knowing how to treat women like American men do, all while looking almost exclusively at my breasts as they talked. Finally, he left and I made my way back to the subway station. I pulled out my multi-tool with one of those one inch long knives and held it hidden in my bag while I walked. When I got to the station, I waited by the stairs until I heard a train arrive and leave again. This was the end of the line, so there was only one train line and one direction – if he was on the platform that would have been the one he needed to catch. When I got down the stairs he was still there. He didn’t see me so I ducked behind the staircase and waited there, knife in hand. When the train arrived I ran on and watched the doors until we left the station. I looked over my shoulder the whole way home and spent the rest of my time in NYC worried he might find me. I had no idea when he’d started following me or how much he knew about me. Until watching Laura Bates’ TED talk, it never occurred to me that that was something I could have (or should have) reported. It clearly never occurred to the guards at the army base either. I thought “he never did anything”, “he never touched me”, so it wasn’t a big deal. But the next day I bought a real knife and haven’t left home without it since.

Anon

Almost everytime I go in to the bookies to put a bet on there will be a man who asks if I want any help. No thanks, I’m quite capable

Anon

I was at a pub and a guy grabbed my bum, so I turned round to him and said ‘wtf do you think you’re doing!?’ Clearly shocked at the fact I wasn’t flattered by his romantic advances he went on to question ‘why the f***’ he would ever touch me, and told his friends I was a ‘crazy bitch’ who made it up.