the first time i got catcalled i was 12 years old. as a heavier girl with wider hips and a larger chest than both girls my age, i didn’t look 12. i live about 2 hours from Melbourne and this incident was the first time i had been there without my parents. however, i was with my brother, who was 13 and rather useless. during this one day, i had been told about my ass, my boobs and what people wanted to do to me in general four times. in. one. day. i don’t know whether my brother din’t hear them, or just chose to ignore them, but he din’t do anything. i just thought it was normal. in the four years since this, several more incidences have happened, and until now, i haven’t shared any these include, -being groped at a school event -being followed around by a man in Japan -told that i should ‘cover up’ because ‘i’m asking for it’
It wasn’t even that bad. In the great scheme of life as a woman- he wasn’t abusive, he didn’t touch me, he didn’t even really proposition me. He merely reminded me of my vulnerability that is part and parcel of being a woman. I got into his taxi in the city centre. It wasn’t even late- it was early morning and I had been more abstemious in my time, but I think the privilege of my advancing years has made me forget that I will be judged for those things. Within seconds of the journey the driver questioned me about the details of my night; who I was with and who I was going home to. In most of my taxi journeys I am admittedly a driver’s nightmare. Backseat driving, singing along with the radio, drunken rants about politics/my inability to use Uber/dangerous driving, and generally oversharing all add up to a usual sigh of cabbie relief when I finally slam the door. But last night, all of a sudden I was taken back to being a young woman who was thinking about how and when I could escape safely. I stopped myself explaining my sexuality and relationship details and sat silently for the rest of the journey. I didn’t feel safe enough to speak my mind until we arrived home, when I handed over my tenner along with my advice for life, which was basically to stop being a sleazebag and have some respect. But ironically the disturbing thing for me was the fact that he totally took it. It felt like he suddenly realised that I was a white, middle class, middle aged woman and he had mistaken me for a different sort. His easy apologies had me seething for my younger self and other women who don’t have my class, age and colour privilege.
Today I was on a bus home from work. After a few stops an intoxicated and potentially mentally unwell man got onto the bus, he initially sat next to a man on the top deck of the bus. He then moved forward a seat to sit next to a woman, where he moved closer to her and rested his head on her shoulder. I was the only person who moved when this happened, I stood up, waiting to see if she needed help, everyone else on busy top deck looked away, a few of the men and women around her moved to the lower deck. She shoved the man and he fell onto the floor, and sat opposite her, continuing to sing, and stare at her for the following 10 minutes. I froze, aware the man was both intoxicated and very large, and I feel I should have done something to help her in that situation, but I can’t quite believe no one on the bus stepped in.
On a Virgin train, sat by myself on the way to Edinburgh in a group of four seats, with two guys across from me in another four. Every time a woman walks past, they whistle and chuckle. Each woman looks uncomfortable as they hear it as they walk past. I’m listening to a podcast so I can’t hear them, but they keep looking at me and saying things. I don’t feel like I can say anything as I’m essentially worried about them responding aggressively and I don’t want to engage in conversation with them for what will be a long journey. I wish I was saying something.
I walked into my local McDonald’s and there was a really long queue so I decided to skip it. When I got to the front and was about to order said that he saw me skipping the queue and to go to the back of the line. I was shocked. A WHITE male told ME to do something. I sued him the next day and got a thousand dollars
i was on a train about 3 weeks ago,and sat next to a gruop of 4 very loud and very drunk adult women, maby in their 40`s i guess, they laughed a lot about trying to guess if i was a virgin or not, the almost the whole trip. And whan we where going to step of the train, on of them both grabbed my crotch really hard and then my behind. i kind of just jumped away, and laughed it of, but i would actually want to push or punch her back, but would probably get arrested
A man tried to follow my friends and I home on the bus when I was a freshman in high school. He tried to touch us and wouldn’t leave us alone. Anytime he did something he would assure us he wasn’t trying to do anything sexual, he told us he wanted to play with us. I tried to call someone, but when he saw me doing so he loomed over me listening in to the phone call to hear what I was saying, and kept asking me who I was calling and why, There were two other people on the bus. The driver who ignored the situation, and another man who looked away. I finally leaned over to the other man and asked for his help. He ignored my first couple pleas and then finally looked over and asked “Who me?” He told us he would get off the bus with us, which was enough keep the other man from following. We ran away from the bus stop and we were picked up by our friends, crying and trembling, They brought us to the police station, we told the police what happened and they showed us a picture they had taken of him earlier that day for the same thing. We where then told they couldn’t arrest him because they weren’t sure of his motives and he had done nothing that they could have arrested him for. He would have gone to jail if he had actually molested me, but since he didn’t I have to live in terror of ever seeing him again. After this happened I felt complete shame. I told little to no one about it and could barely sleep for the rest of the week. My friends were harassed of social media when they spoke out about it and to this day I am scared to go back on a bus.
I will share 3 separate instances that stood out to me this year, last year and the year before that. This year, while walking around a mall with my boyfriend, a young boy yelled out to us to ask if we were going to have sex that night. I told my boyfriend while walking back in that direction later that if he was still there I anted to punch, or at least slap him because someone needs to step up against that behavior. Last year, I was waiting for the bus to take me from work to school and a man came up to me and strikes up a conversation, which is fine, except that I could feel his eyes undressing me and he kept making comments about my legs (only bear from the knee down) and I was so thankful that the bus was actually on time that day and he did not follow me on, because he actually had a car and decided to stop and wait at that stop so he could keep admiring my physical appearance. I started bringing a change of clothes for after work. (I have also been cat called numerous times including while wearing big, loose clothes that I would wear to hide my form and a base ball style shirt and regular jeans) I had a cleaning job where the guy would rent out the place via air B&B, and I would clean it after each guest. The guest was supposed to be gone by thte time I got there, but he was still in the process of leaving, though almost gone. I went to the studio above the garage to go ahead and start cleaning and the man comes up and starts making advances on me. I could tell he was a bit drunk, I doubt he noticed but he walked slowly towards me, while I slowly backed up and he was blocking the only exit to the room. He proceeded to say things like, “Your eyes are beautiful, you are beautiful” which is fine, but then he escalated to “Are you available this evening? I’d like to take you out to dinner. I’d like to make out with you. I’d like to hook up with you. I’d like to hook up forever with you” as he proceeded to undress me with his eyes. I was terrified. I said “no, I have plans with my boyfriend this evening” to which he responded, “Oh, I will not emproach on HIS TERRITORY” and finally slowly started backing off before he actually left.
One of the most difficult things about being female is other people expecting you to behave a certain way even when you don’t. You are also expected to be interested in certain things even when you aren’t. Often what you are actually interested in (especially science or technology) is dismissed or ignored by people around you. People imagine you to be a certain way even when you aren’t. They expect you to appear a certain way when in reality, you don’t look that way at all. On a college science field trip, a male coach driver handed me my bag, took one look at me and said laughing that it must be “full of make-up” because I was a “lady”. At the time I was wearing plain tracksuit bottoms and no make up on my face aside from transparent (invisible) chapstick. He sadly did not ask me about what fieldwork I was doing or what science I was studying on the trip. He seemed to talk to the males in a more positive and different way than he did the females. This was unnerving. It is now painfully and disturbingly clear that the man must have hallucinated me wearing eyeshadow, blusher and eye-pencil when in reality I was wearing nothing save chap-stick. The reality is that I have never worn these types of make-up because lots of make up contains toxic chemicals, I see no practical logical point in wearing something that will run off in rainwater (we would be working outside) and also I would have no idea how to apply something like eyeliner because I have never worn it in my entire life! Throughout my life, people have assumed that I would like to wear make up just because I am a woman. Lots of presents I received were make up that people incorrectly assumed that I would like (I eventually gave these presents to my sister and she was glad to have them). Some people can’t seem to see the fact that I am wearing practically no make-up, yet they seem to assume that I would want to wear some just because I have a female name. Weird.
Calling a man a “dick” is just as derogatory as calling a woman a “pussy”.