The world makes me sad sometimes. It’s mostly men, that Adam Johnson prison bragging, I wish I’d raped her. Why do men hate women? Sometimes I worry that I will end up hating actually all men. Especially when men I love or have liked do things that make them part of the problem. I hope that I can help them to hate us less. Did I really just write that? We don’t deserve to be hated. I did not deserve to be raped, I did not deserve to be sexually assaulted. How can I get past these things? I wrote that I should not give them brain space, maybe I should free the nipple in protest, but all that would do would make me feel more objectified as they’d would look and scoff at me. I could get really fucking good at manly things? Like mechanics and woodwork, but would that be winning if I’d rather be doing other things. I have a strong resolve to teach any children I might have to be more respectful and to love themselves, I could raise solutions, hope to raise people that would not rape or be raped. But is that on some level saying I could have prevented some of what happened to me, raise them to have better judgement of people. The people that hurt me told me they cared about me. I don’t want to raise children incapable of trusting other humans. I feel like I need a tattoo that says ‘it wasn’t your fault’ I need Robin Williams to shout it in my fucking face and shake my shoulders until I believe it and cry. But I’m not Matt Damon, I am a perfectly functional loving woman, I have not shut down, I trust. I feel triggered by my partner sometimes, when he grabs, I tell him i don’t like it. I don’t know if he believes me. Sometimes if I’m not in the mood to make love he tries to guilt trip me, as if he does have some sort of a right to my body. I don’t know how to make him understand that. I don’t know how much it affects me. I know I don’t like it. I’d like to be able to say no and that be ok. It feels like I have a limited amount of nos. I’d like to be more clear in myself about why I say no, sometimes I feel like I’d like to make love but I say no, and I don’t know why. Is it because I don’t feel safe somehow? I know I don’t like to make love when I don’t feel safe. Today I tried to do yoga in the park and a Lorry drove past and beeped at me. I was angry.
I work in a national park visitor centre where I advise customers on hiking trails in the area. Travellers often come in as couples and it is incredibly common for the man to come up to me and ask various questions that make *his* goals very clear, while his female partner hangs around silently behind him looking resigned to the fact that they will do whatever *he* wants to do, regardless of what she would like. I will always make a point to ask her what she would like to do. It’s somewhat sad to see how surprised and grateful many women seem for this small amount of consideration and courtesy (that their partner can’t be bothered giving to them, apparently). As it turns out, more often than not, women have clear opinions too (surprise surprise!) – they know what they want and don’t want to do. It’s just that their partner doesn’t bother asking them – or if they ask and get an answer they don’t like (such as “I’d rather not do this long hard trail you want to do because I don’t feel as fit and confident as you” or “I have concerns about the weather and would rather wait for it to get better” for instance), they simply ignore it and drag the woman along regardless. The implication is always very clear and always the same: what he wants is more important than what she wants, every time.
I am reading your book. I hadn’t really thought about my own experiences of sexism before. Having a sister who was kidnapped and sexually assaulted at 14 and later experienced domestic violence, I didn’t really think anything less was particularly notable perhaps…but I would to add to the project. First sexual experience, repeating ‘god please make him stop’ inside my head but not feeling able to say anything out loud. A few months later, the same boy led me to a tent while I was drunk and removed all my clothes. Again, was unable to say anything. Luckily my friend found us, got rid of him and helped me back into my clothes. We carried on like nothing happened. Age 15, broke up with my boyfriend for cheating on me with my friend and then a year of bulimia. Who knows why. First long term boyfriend, aged 16, used to wake with him on/in me in the night. I thought it was what I got for having sex. Over a year later I ended the relationship after months of my boyfriends behaviour becoming more erratic and hostile towards me. Eventually he threw me into some patio doors at a party. That night I admitted to my best friend what had been happening and about a month later finished with him after another incident at a party. University of Edinburgh. Friends called us slags and made constant jokes about getting back to the kitchen. We were regularly groped at clubs and in bars. GI Joes and Barbie Hoes night sticks out. Guys seemed to think that if they just smiled at you they could then stick their tongue down your throat. The worst part is we let them. In my final year, the girls in one of my tutorials were rated by the boys on how fuckable we were. It was all sexism. But I know that I am one of the lucky ones.
To my first serious boyfriend, You taught me that the most important part of me is my sexuality. That I should be eager to please and easily pleasured and that’s how to earn affection and attention. You taught me that there’s something wrong with me if I’m not pleasured by what you do and how you do it. You pushed me to do certain things enough times that I said yes, because I thought I was supposed to. You shaped, molded, and manipulated me until I learned how to fake intimacy and give everything to be the girl you dreamed of. My thoughts warped to the point that man after man has treated me this way and I didn’t even bat an eye. I swore up and down I’d never let anyone hurt me the way you did. I put my heart in chains and locks, but I somehow forgot to protect my body. The sacred gift that I have from God, I just let it be the object that you taught me it should be. I’ve been sexualized and made to feel like an object by you, by your best friend after you, by men I thought were my friends, by strangers, by an older coworker, by younger boys who thought they had that right too. No, I didn’t let them all have what you had. But I let them objectify me because you taught me to see myself that way too. Now I’m left with the tragedy of what I’ve allowed, but you’ve lived on seamlessly because that’s how it works. That’s how being a girl in this sex-hungry entitled-man’s world is. You should have known better. But the truth is, you get to walk away, somehow, without even being aware of what you’ve done.
It doesn’t always happen, but… It really sucks when I’m dating a male love interest and he asks about my past relationships, learns of my bisexuality, and doesn’t take it seriously, even if I tell him I’m monogamous. “It’s fine if you sleep with a woman, as long as I’m there too!” He said. I laughed it off as a joke the first time, but he said it every time we were reminded of my sexuality. I always told him that for someone monogamous like myself, three-ways are not my thing, but I guess ten times isn’t enough to get through to him. I finally snapped at him at the end about how disrespectful he was when he treated romantic/sexual relationships between two women like they weren’t valid or real, or were for his pleasure. But in the end, he still said the same things to me. “You can do anything you want with a woman! As long as I’m there too!” I really don’t know why I let this relationship last beyond the first day, but I’m glad it didn’t last long.
This is a small thing but I’m sharing it because it pissed me off. My boyfriend and I went to see the comedian Stewart Lee last night with a big group of friends. Sorting out seating beforehand, one of my boyfriend’s friends said, “Don’t sit with your boy or girlfriend, it won’t be as funny with your boy or girlfriend.” Oh of course, because comedy is best enjoyed in single-sex groups of mates, there’s no way that my boyfriend and I might have a similar response to it or experience it in a similar way. I find his comment too baffling really to pinpoint exactly what drove it, but it pissed me off because 1) I WRITE AND PERFORM COMEDY. I’d organised and performed in a comedy show just two days earlier. I have an enormous, thorough and quite geeky interest in the whole art form, and Stewart Lee is my favourite. 2) The person I share a sense of humour with most is my boyfriend, who is a) a boy and b) my boyfriend. Watching Stewart Lee would not be funniest with a group of girls I have little in common with (I do have female friends but I didn’t have much of a comedic history with the other girls at the gig). Watching Stewart Lee would be funniest with him, for both of us. I’d like to say that his weird ideas about heterosexual relationship dynamics didn’t affect my enjoyment of the show, but you know what, they did. I did sit next to my bf but on his other side were these lads who managed to create a little laddish bubble that assumed that I was excluded from their appreciation of the show and as a result, did exclude me. It’s just an extension of the ‘wives go and sit in another courtyard while we men talk about important and clever things’ expectation that’s prevalent in the traditional Rajasthani society that I grew up in. Absolute bull***t. /End
Being told ‘You can afford to be needy when you look like that’ by somebody who is explicitly considers himself a ‘feminist’ and is writing his entire masters dissertation on the structural oppression of women.
A couple of annoyances about sexism with regards to roles in relationships: Some people seem to think that proposing marriage is a ‘man thing’ (i.e. the man should do it) on the grounds that it’s ‘traditional’ for it to be done that way. Last weekend, I was at a wedding reception, & I was party to a conversation where a couple of people were saying as much. To add insult to injury, two of them were women, & one of the women was my sister- a very intelligent young woman, who I thought was quite liberal-minded. She also said something along the lines of how her now-husband (my brother-in-law) wouldn’t have liked it if she’d proposed to him. Whyever not?! Why shouldn’t the woman propose to the man, for heaven’s sake? Talk about sexist, patriarchal & outdated ideas! That conversation annoyed me, & I remember sighing exasperatedly while it was going on. I didn’t want to challenge them on the grounds that I didn’t want to get into an argument, cause a scene & make things even more uncomfortable for the bride’s brother (my sister was talking to him & his girlfriend) than they were already that day. Another gripe revolves round same-sex relationships. Some people seem to think that in such relationships, one partner is the ‘man’ & the other is the ‘woman’. Surely that’s missing the point of a same-sex relationship? Homophobia AND gender stereotyping here, folks.
i was a domestic violence victim and i didn’t even know it. i’ve always been really selective with who i trusted, which made it all the worse. i was best friends with a guy for a few years before i started sleeping with him. i made it clear i had no romantic feelings for him, and if either of us did we should stop. he agreed. two years later, i told him i wanted to stop because i had met someone through work i did feel romantically for. this was a big deal for me because of my trust issues and so had never dated. by this point we had not slept together for more than three months. he spent more than four hours telling me he wasn’t ready to stop, guilted me into thinking i wasn’t trying hard enough because couldn’t i see he was trying so hard for me? confused, i told him that we weren’t in a relationship. that i had restated this many times over the two year period we had this agreement to the point where he verbalised he was sick of hearing it. i told him i no longer wanted to, but he was insistent. when i realised that the person i was interested with was also interested in me, we began seeing each other. i told my best friend, whom by this point i had not slept with for six months. his response was to punch the wooden headboard of my bed in, then put his hands around my neck and squeezed, all the while crying and screaming and saying i had cheated on him, how could i do this to him, after all he’s done for me, didn’t i value him at all? he then called his work to say he wasn’t coming in, then forced me to call my work (with an hour’s notice) to say i wasn’t coming in because we were going to “talk about it”. i then had to remain in his company for the next seven hours as he told me how disappointed he was, the lengths he’d gone to for me, what he’d sacrificed for me, all through tears and shouting to hissing how i could possibly do this to him. he called me names, he said he hoped my sister would die (knowing she’s the person who means the most to me) so i could feel what he was feeling. he then said he was angry, but also horny. he kept repeating it. i felt sick to my stomach – i was still reeling at how quickly everything had imploded and how something i thought i wasn’t in the wrong about suddenly seemed exactly that. i suddenly thought that maybe i had misjudged, maybe i hadn’t made the situation clear enough. if i was in the wrong, i had to make amends. we had sex. by the end i was crying. i still have not felt lower than that moment. when you can’t do either of your body’s natural defence mechanisms of fight or flight, you can only submit. i thought of calling the police but just as quickly squashed it. i’d caused enough trouble anyway, why bring other people into this? this was my fault anyway. they’d only agree with him. the person i was seeing was also working that night. he’d left me multiple worried messages and missed calls. i’ve never told him the physical and sexual parts because i was so ashamed. i felt like it i’d brought it on myself, felt horrified and sick that i had cheated on him. by the end of that seven hours i was willing to do nearly anything just so he would leave. i felt like a prisoner, like i was physically suffocating. i’d never felt so powerless. he then said he was willing to forgive me if i did two things: if i stopped all contact with the person i was seeing and his brother (who i also worked with) which included deleting their numbers and their accounts off all social media. i also had to quit my job. for a moment, it was all too much and i said no. the screaming started again and after another hour or so i agreed out of sheer desperation to just get him away from me. i didn’t stop seeing him but the damage was done. i lost the relationship i had with the first person i’d ever considered dating. my (now former) best friend’s circle of friends still believe i cheated, and until recently i blamed myself for all of it.
I was raped and abused physically and emotionally by my long-term boyfriend (late high school-early college years). When I admitted this to someone after we had broken up, reaching out for help, that person said, “Well, no one’s going to want you now. You’re used goods.” And the second person I told said, “You should take it as a compliment. It’s not like your body is that great anyway.”