Tag Archives: Public space

No means no

I was standing at a bar waiting to be served with my wife when a drunk woman grab my arse. Despite protesting and telling her I was married, she tried to grab at my penis and insisted that I take her home. She was so drunk that even if I was single I wouldn’t have gone anywhere near her but she kept insisting and wouldn’t take no for an answer. My wife had to call over the bouncers from the door who instantly assumed I was the problem, simply because I was a man. Luckily I was surrounded by people who supported what I was telling them, but if I had been alone I’m sure I would be been told to leave. The bouncers did escorted the drunk lady out of the pub. I don’t know what happened to her, I hope she got home safe. But no means no… even if its a man saying it!


I know it was a Thursday It is hard to be a teenage schoolgirl – to be – in navy pleated skirt and blazer, white knee socks, white shirt, red-house stripy tie – racing colours on a concrete estate You negotiate the safest route home. Risk the lift? Or take the several flights of hard stairs to the fifth floor – to your flat? You have to make decisions like that daily with your racing heart betting on safety first. The lobby is empty. You gamble on the lift; it shudders – a creaking silver metal cage; you sound-check behind you – all still clear- the thump of its landing – await the slow-sliding opening – impatient as a filly under starters orders at the gate – bolt inside and check outside. He is hard. You realise. You see that he speaks with a glassy eye. You take in the words but hope the lift door will keep on closing. You calculate he will not have time to step inside, holding his hard penis outside his unzipped trousers. He is not old but he’s older. You are glad you did not politely press the ‘Door Hold’ button to answer the query that issued from his mouth as sociable inanity. It was an eternity until you willed – you urged the lift door to shut out – to shoot off (not cut off his penis) while you answered ‘No. Sorry. I don’t know what floor Susie lives on.’ And stood still shuddering alone in Benny Hill territory: the world of chubby, bespectacled men squinting and lolling their protruding tongues. We should be laughing. The lift bears you up and away. What if the door had slammed and sliced it in half? And you would now be in this metal box with something bigger, thicker than a dismembered white finger bloodied on the silver floor. A buckle on your black school shoe gleams up as you figure the number of inches and feet to cover the flit from lift to front door; he can’t beat you and the lift to the fifth floor, can he? The lift judders. You’re easy meat. It opens on two flat doors. No spying eye except on number eight- a drilled hole in the door to invigilate against strangers’ claims to entrance. Feet float in trance on concrete ground; your house key blinks about the lock. You dwell in silence. Enter your front door. You tell no-one. You and your sister go to Sainsbury’s to do the weekly shop – stock up on cans and meat near Stockwell tube. (That’s how you know it happened on a Thursday.) We giggle, swopping prices on pork chops to get the cheapest deal; and later, laden with weighty jars in plastic carrier bags, thin, red bands strip raw our small, white fingers. Back to Clapham from the shop, it’s a trudge: we are not flying steeds but burdened beasts under a winter-navy, silver sky. ‘Let’s hope,’ says Mary, ‘the lift is working.’

unwanted kiss

I’ve been grabbed and/or grinded on countless times by men in bars, sadly so many times I don’t think much of it anymore. By far the worst incident was one night when I went out dancing with a friend and a guy came up behind me without warning and put his arm around my neck, making me feel like I was being choked, and tried to force me to kiss him. Luckily, my friend saw him coming and pulled me away just the tiniest bit so that I was able to turn my head away from him and avoid his lips. Once I realized what was happening, I shoved him off me. I never saw his face. I went home and cried. I felt so disgusted.


University of Durham, Careers Fair: I was talking to a guy from Morgan Stanley and he was like how can I help you, and I said give me a job, and he replied first you give me a blow job. I was shocked that some representing a large, multinational, financial institution thought that this would be an acceptable comment to make.


when i was 16 i was running down a country lane as part of my training and a large truck pulled up alongside me, the man shouted out at me to “sit on his face”. i felt completely scared because it was in the countryside with no one else around, i was in high school.


16 years ago I was walking on my own through a gorge on a Greek island and was forced by two men to sit between them. They held me there and wouldn’t let me go as they laughed in my face, touched me and tried to put their hands up my shorts. I have rarely mentioned it to anybody because I am only just beginning to understand that it wasn’t my fault. I can go for a walk wherever I like without fear of assault.


Now in my 60’s, I have experienced many instances of sexist behaviour over the years. One that sticks in my mind was during my 20’s when, while out shopping, I was approached by a friendly normal looking guy who said “hey, do you have the time, please?”. I looked at my watch and responded “10 o’clock [or whatever it was]”. Then he leaned in and said “wanna fuck?”. When I looked shocked, he laughed and walked off. I felt stupid, degraded and somehow at fault, because being female, I had “invited” his behaviour. These countless experiences result in an accumulated sense of disrespect and disempowerment. As a mature and wiser woman, with 2 daughters and a granddaughter, I am calling out and shaming any man who dares to behave like this.


When I was 12 I was on holiday with my family in San Fransisco. We were walking from our hotel to China Town for dinner. A man started following us and touching my bottom when we stopped to cross at pedestrian crossings. When I turned around to see what was happening he grinned at me. He followed us for a while. I don’t remember much else. I didn’t tell anyone in my family. I didn’t know what to do or say.


I was in our local shop today, & I saw a wedding anniversary card with a picture on the front of a man & a woman doing the washing up- very sort of olde-worlde-type artwork- that said “on your anniversary, remember that the secret to a long & happy marriage is teamwork & compromise…”. What’s wrong with that, I hear you cry? When you open the card, it says something to the effect of “…and doing things her way!”. Yet another fail from the greetings card industry, & yet another tired ‘wife joke’. I’m fed up to the back teeth with those. Why the industry persists in producing either sexist cards like that, which make women & wives the butt of the joke, or else cards that are hugely gendered- footy (or other stereotypically ‘male’ activities like cars & drinking beer) cards for men & boys & pink, flowery cards for women & girls I really don’t know.


My 14 year old daughter was followed by a man in his 30s. He aked her name and if she was on Facebook. He hugged her. The police response later was ‘she does look older than 14’ and ‘he was probably just drunk’. And no action was taken.