Anyone reading the news item that features the woman in London being catcalled on camera by men in a transit van, filmed by the man behind her, don’t read the comments section if you want to stay sane. The men called her a dog and on her period but according to half of the commenters it’s still not sexism. That’s the polite version of the comments section for you. Props to the man who recorded it!
So I live in the most equal city in the world (Probably), Stockholm, Sweden. I have never experienced sexism as bad as I did one year ago, when I was 16. Once, when I was on my way to work, at maybe 8 or 8.30 in the morning. I was at the Stockholm City Central, walking from the train to the metro. A man, who I had seen on the train, made his way up to me, he stoped me(he grabbed my arm, not hard or anything, just a like “Hey, excuse me”). He asked me about the time, I answered, he asked me about my name, I didn’t. He then got this threatening look on his face and kind of pushed me up the wall. I didn’t know what to do, so I just froze. An old lady who saw me pushed him away and grabbed me and walked me to the metro and made sure he didn’t follow us. I have no idea what his intentions were, but I am 100% sure, that I do not want to know.
At the airport. Was tired because my layover had been 5 hours long. I had taken an hour to find a seat in the airport. Finally found one. Fell asleep. Almost missed my flight so when the last call was called out, I freaked out. Luckily there was a flight attendant looking for people on that flight potentially stuck in the long security queues and bumping them up the line. She walked me all the way to the front of a 50 person line. I politely excused myself to the man she placed me in front of and said thank you. He civilly said “Wouldn’t want you to miss your flight m’aam. That’s alright.” I smiled. So I took off my shoes, earrings and jacket, placed them with my handbag on a tray and walked through the security check. I was waiting on the other end for my stuff. And previously polite man walked up behind me and placed his hands on my waist as he walked around me. PS my bare waist cuz I was wearing a crop top. Why did he touch me? Also. My skin. He put his hands on my bare skin. A man I do not know. A man I only shared pleasantries with. Being polite is an invitation to touch my body now? All I wanted to do was clear security and make it to my flight. I would like to do that without men feeling they can touch me because security demands I take off certain pieces of clothing when I walk through the scanners. I was visibly tired. Late for my flight. Travelling alone. So my thanks for being polite to a stranger in an obviously stressful situation is to get grabbed at the waist? Why a grown man would think he should squeeze someone from behind at the waist is beyond me. I unfortunately didn’t have time to confront the situation because I was rushing to catch my flight. But three days later still bothered by this violation of my personal space and inappropriate touching of my body.
Aged 17, living in London, I was exposed to in a lift in Holland Park tube station. It was only me and this guy. He took his penis out and played with it saying “it’s nice isn’t it”. I felt very scared. I did not think it was significant enough to report to the police and I would not have been able to identify him on a line up. Aged 14 ish, at a ball in Glasgow, I was kissing a boy outside, who then pushed me against a car and rammed his fist inside me. I felt violated. I did not report as at the time I thought this was as much my fault. I have also been rubbed up against on crowed buses and asked to “get my tits out for the lads”. More recently my father in law advised that I should not have any more children as it had affected my looks. I was told that I lacked a sense of humour and when I went bright red in rage, was laughed at. This same man passed judgement on my two children (who he called ‘it’ or ‘creature’) – saying one was pretty and a success, the other was not so good. All the while me husband and mother in law sit saying nothing. I am then told off by my mother in law’s brother to try to get along with my father in law.
I complained to the police about a male who was stalking me and the response I got was he has a right to drive around in a place at the same time as you. He had just been released from jail and was on bail for robbing a bank. I gave all the peoples names that he sexually assaulted to the police and not one of them or another person said they believe me. The sexual assault centre discharged me numerous times on the basis that I was apparently doing well. I have reason to believed that I am being stalked at least on occasion and it has been more than ten years since the first incident.
I was on the bus to work a few months back when an argument erupted between the (female) bus driver and a (female) passenger due to the driver asking the passenger to move her mini-suitcase which was blocking the aisle. The passenger refused and started shouting abuse at the driver, using disgusting language. It got to the point where the driver stopped the bus and asked her to get off but she refused and continued to give a torrent of abuse so the driver called the police. We were waiting for the police to arrive and several passengers started talking to the passenger, asking her to apologise to the driver and saying that they were “just as bad as each other”. Eventually another bus pulled up behind us and as we got onto it the (male) bus driver said “oh she should have just ignored her and got on with her job”. Now I was annoyed as everybody else about the interruption to my journey but I completely supported the actions that the driver took. At the end of the day the driver shouldn’t have to put up with that level of abuse from a passenger while she is simply doing her job. Her colleague should have supported her, not told her to “get on with it”, likewise the other passengers should have been more sympathetic instead of getting annoyed that their journey was delayed. It shocks me how this abuse of a woman simply doing her job was normalised, the other passengers and the male bus driver seemed to think that she should just put up with the abuse and get on with it. I have worked in customer service before, and I would not have put up with that level of abuse. I’m now a criminal prosecutor and know that she had every right to call the police. It makes me wonder what would have happened had the passenger and driver been of different genders? If the abusive passenger had been a man would the same approach have been taken? Similarly if the driver had been a man I reckon the second driver would probably have backed him up, not said he should just “get on with it”.
I was in the back of the bus, one row behind me. It was fairly empty. A man sat in front of my until he got a phone call and then he moved to the centre back seat. I considered this kind of normal, until he got off the phone and sat directly behind me. I felt something blow against my hair and thought that when he sat down some wind had blown it. Then I feel him blow on my hair. I turn around with a look of bewilderment and he says: “Just relax”. He says it like I was the one being weird. I am 15.
I am a woman of 61, very fit and well and I walk around London a lot. Since I stopped dyeing my hair I have noticed consistently over several years that young people, particularly young men, seem to expect me to get out of their way on a crowded street. I have been knocked aside so often that I now hold an elbow out ready to contact them with it if the collision happens. Should I be looking out for elbow armour? because it still hurts. Paradoxically on the underground men often give me a seat, especially if I wear my red velvet coat or pink fluffy coat. Is this because they get public ‘virtue points’ from doing something so visible to everyone seated in the carriage. Anyway, I always thank them gratefully and accept, though I offer my seat to a pregnant woman or someone who appears to need it more than I do, eg someone using a mobility aid.
Last summer when I sat down in the tram on my way to work, a man started shouting at me that I shouldn’t be wearing a tanktop with my small breast size, because it was an assault to all the people who would have to look at me. First I just responded something along the lines of ‘Yeah you must be the expert’ but he wouldn’t stop. The tram ride took about 3 1/2 minutes during which he yelled at me constantly and everybody could hear. It wasn’t until the very last stop when I got up to exit the tram that some man who had sat a metre away the whole ride murmured to the shouting man that he could stop now. Normally I am quite confident and I didn’t believe the things that he said but after those 3 1/2 minutes of being shouted at for how my body looked I just walked to my connecting train as fast as I could and started crying once I was inside. I have never felt so objectified in my life.
I was returning home from a trip and headed down the escalator to catch the bus after leaving the subway. It was a longer than usual escalator and while I was standing on my step, I heard someone walking down the escalator and my peripheral vision showed that it was a man and he stopped on the step I was standing on. My internal alarm went off and in general I don’t acknowledge men who approach me as that often leads to them saying very unpleasant things or trying to grab me/get physical. I stood there looking ahead as the man tried to engage me in conversation, “You’re so beautiful, what’s your background?”. I don’t respond and am looking ahead seeing how much further until I’m at the bottom of the escalator. He then takes a hand and gropes my thigh, I move away and hold my arm out to create additional space. “Don’t touch me”. He looks surprised, throws his hands up and then says, “Hey I’m not going to hurt you or anything”. He then leans in towards me and pulls me into a hug. I push back, say “leave me alone” and by then am mercifully at the end of the escalator so I walk out quickly. There were many people around and no one said or did anything.