A few months ago I was at the mall with my mom doing some morning shopping and as we where leaving the mall I had to go to the bathroom. I walked to the restrooms while my mom sat at a bench outside waiting for me. I went to the restroom, washed my hands, and then bent over to get a drink. Suddenly this guy was grabbing my butt, and hard. He squeezed and then worked his way down. The whole thing lasted for about 10 sec, but it still hurt. Physically and mentally. I’m 14 yes old (13 when it happened) and I was really scared and confused about the whole thing. I was paralyzed and terrified in the moment, and didn’t know what to do. I was used, touched, and violated. In that moment I became an object. I didn’t tell anyone till yesterday actually. As a project at my school we had to write TedTalk. I wrote and performed mine on sexism in the everyday life. As I was researching for my project I came across the TedTalk that this project came from, and it really opened my eyes. So I decided to share my story on here, and in my TedTalks. My opener to my speech was my story, and it was a great way to get things off my chest and spread a good message. It really helped me, and I’m really thankful of my teachers being really supportive during the whole thing. Everyday sexism is real. It a problem. And it needs to be fixed.
When I was 11 years old a 16 year old boy at school with all his friends smacked me on the bottom extremely hard and it really hurt me, to them it was just funny and it made his friends laugh. I was too young to understand what sexual assault was and never reported it. I assumed it was normal for boys to do things like this. When I think back on it now I’m devastated and even though it was something so little I feel violated. I was so young and defenseless. Why is this happening in schools?!
I need feminism because when I was 4, we learned the colours. After class, a group of boys came up to me and asked what my favourite colour was. I said “blue” and and one of them replied, “you can’t like blue, it’s a boy colour”. Upon telling him that my dad’s favourite colour was purple, I was told, “your dad must be a girl then”. I didn’t tell my dad because I thought that being compared to a girl would upset him too much. My dad is a feminist. I need feminism because when I was 13, my class worked on a project with NATS AIS. In the final stage of the competition, I was transferred into a group with 6 boys ‘for representation’. As project manager of my last team, I assumed that I’d have some creative input and delegation opportunities. I was put on research with a guy who played 2048 the whole time but still took full credit for the work I did. One lesson, the project manager was away so I took it upon myself to show some initiative and start the PowerPoint presentation. The next day, it had been deleted without a thought and a new one was being made; it was exactly the same but grammatically incorrect. When I tried to argue, I was called bossy and told to ‘get back in the kitchen or wherever [I was] supposed to be’. I need feminism because I saw the bewildered look on Harvey’s face when I did better than him on a physics test., despite the fact that I had beaten him on every science test beforehand. He used to call me dumb every lesson, still does. He just can’t believe that a somewhat attractive girl has the capacity to be good at science. Or maybe his ego’s just big. I need feminism because a girl I go to school with got raped by a boy in our year. For three weeks leading up to the event, she had reported him to the school 6 times for touching her inappropriately in class, she even had witnesses. He got a ‘serious talking to’ and nothing more. He wasn’t even moved away from her in class. She came into school crying and she stopped talking for a few days. One of our mutual friends got really mad at her for ‘being over-dramatic and complaining too much’. When I got angry at this, she said “well if it had been me, I would’ve just told him to stop and kicked him in the balls’. I had no words.
I was shopping alone on a busy Saturday afternoon in Marks and Spencer’s food hall. I was looking at some products on the shelf, reaching up to pick a packet up, and I felt what can only be described as my bottom being groped firmly with two hands. Shocked I looked immediatly around me I’m disgust. To the distant left was a middle aged woman preoccupied herself, and to my near right was a suspicious looking elderly man with a stick. The stick seemed to be one that a partially sighted or blind person would use. I followed the man around the shop and he appeared to be able to see his surroundings and read packaging. I wish I had reported what happened to me, I felt completely violated and freaked out. You don’t expect to be groped at any time but especially not in the middle of a shop in the daytime. I didn’t want to make a scene or waste anyone’s time but I now wish that I had stuck up for myself. I have since seen said man in my local area without the stick.
Around 5 years ago a colleague asked me out on a date and I accepted. We had a nice night but I quickly realised that I wasn’t interested in him romantically. I had come out of a relationship around a year earlier and if I’m honest I was still in love with this other guy and not ready for a seriously relationship, which was what my date clearly wanted. I tried to communicate this to him after he had very kindly driven me home but he wouldn’t take no for an answer so I ended up agreeing to trying things out with him, although I explained that we would have to take things emotionally and physically slowly. We then end up kissing in the front seat of his car and he proceeds to place his hand under my dress and insert his finger into my vagina. I had literally just told him that I wanted to take things slowly and he proceeds to touch me sexually! I stopped kissing him and told him that this was “too soon” and he removes his hand and we start kissing again and literally 30 seconds later he proceeds to do the same thing again. I didn’t say anything to him and I just thought you had your chance, I asked you not to and you’ve gone and done it again so I know now that I don’t want anything more to do with you. The next day he sent me a load of text messages and offered to drive me home from work. I told him not to because I was perfectly happy to get public transport plus he wasn’t working that day and we lived in completely opposite parts of the city but he still wouldn’t take no for an answer. I had a text message when I got out of work telling me he was waiting for me so I got into the car and ended things as he drove off and asked him to drop me off so that I could get home by public transport. He said no, that he would drop me home and that it was ok, he just wasn’t my type and then told me that he had had a terrible day because his mum tried to commit suicide and then got angrier and more upset as the half hour journey went on, eventually telling me that he was a “nice guy” who deserved a chance and would I like him any more if he was a bastard? Why is it that men who perceive themselves to be “nice guys” feel that they are more deserving of female attention simply for behaving in a normal way? Simply for not being a “bastard”. Why can’t they just accept that a girl is not interested instead of thinking that we owe them a chance simply because they are “nice”. It took me a while to realise that I was sexually assaulted, I think I even laughed about it with my friends the next day. It took me a long time to realise that I was actually violated, I actually felt bad for ending things with him. It shows just how deep-routed sexism is in this world that I actually felt bad for ending things with a man who had sexually assaulted me the day before.
When I was 17 I went to a mixed gender after-ball party with friends being held in a hotel. We were all drinking and I became inebriated. The next morning I woke up in a bed naked with two boys either side of me. I was mortified. I had no recollection of what had happened that night, and was relieved that I could feel that I hadn’t been penetrated. A supposedly good male friend of mine was laughing when he told me that he had heard me from the bathroom saying “No, stop, I love *my then boyfriend’s name*”. I was in shock and felt that because they were laughing about it, I should laugh about it too. That it wasn’t a big deal. I was embarrassed because I thought it was my fault that I’d had too much to drink. I didn’t want to think about it so I thought I could bury it and move on. It’s only now at 27 that I’m starting to realise the massive impact that this has had on me. Those boys took what they wanted with no regard for my lack of consent. I felt shame, I felt powerless and I blamed myself for what had happened. It’s not ok. This needs to change. I won’t be silent any longer.
I was sexually assaulted in middle school and eventually had to transfer to another school. I had to endure the abuse I was suffering for an entire year before I was able to escape. I was knocked unconscious, beaten, and groped. All of this happened in front of multiple teachers and they didn’t do anything to stop it. When I later revealed this information to a teacher at my new school, he did nothing but ask me “What were you wearing?” Not that it should matter, but I was wearing a sweatshirt and baggy sweatpants.
Was walking home, my friend and I had a fight and walked off from each other. I stopped for a moment to gather myself and suddenly a guy walked up from nowhere behind me and grabbed me under my skirt without a word. Spun around, stammered and ran for my friend, when we turned back he was gone. Friend won’t believe me because we were arguing and I didn’t scream for help, but I totally lost my voice in the moment. In a way I felt fortunate that it’d been that long before my first ‘proper’ sexual assault because I knew so many other girls who’d been groped, but the fact that I even thought for a moment in those terms is scary. I don’t want to walk outside after dark now. I’m terrified something will happen.
I remember being objectified as a woman as long as the boys noticed I didn’t just add ‘pointless’ tidbits to classes but I also had breasts. I remember in primary school the confusion when I argued with boys, even if I didn’t get it. I remember hitting puberty at school and being openly groped by a boy in my year at 14+ everyday at lunch with both hands and as a reflex laughing it off and feeling as if it was a compliment. I remember being harassed throughout chemistry about whether I ‘shaved’ or not. I wish now I had learned to make a fuss, not to just be complacent. I always believed myself to be a strong woman as I was always raised but as long as I just didn’t stand out too much. When I got my first boyfriend at 17 I remember being picked apart ’til I I felt there was nothing left, being called ‘unattractive’ in the shower and asked to lose weight. When I once plucked up the courage to tell him I thought he should get more muscle-y his response was simply ‘no’. I also remember the two times he raped me and how he apologised but did it again. I remember how it took over a year to come to the conclusion it was rape, because we were in a relationship and I guess these things just happened. I remember at 20 when my boss continually harassed me by text and after many rejections told me I ‘deserved to be in (his) pants’. I also remember how he stood in the way of another guy I liked, how he wouldn’t come near me because even though he appeared to be disgusted by his behaviour explained to me quite plainly it was kinda like a guy code. And I still don’t know by which of these two men I was offended more by. But I can say this. As a 21 year old woman I am loud, I speak out, I tell men and woman who are sexist exactly why their behaviour is wrong, I am sarcastic and I am confident. Because of projects like this I know I am not alone, that I do not deserve this and this behaviour is not normal. I now openly tell people my boss is a sexist prat that doesn’t have two brain cells to rub together and have managed discuss with friends the verbal abuse I suffered under my ex boyfriend and utter to even a few the categorical rape I have suffered. Because no this is not normal and no this is not okay.
I am 30 and I had been sexually assaulted twice by the time I was 15. I was molested on several occasions by an uncle in my own home at 9 and as a teenager in the park a boy lifted my top up and showed my breasts to everyone and they all laughed. Both events traumatised me and yet I felt I couldn’t really say anything for years because I am considered lucky – lucky that it wasn’t more serious and lucky that I wasn’t raped. It’s only now as an adult I realise how sick that logic is and how not taking Sexual Assault seriously no matter how ‘minor’ is part of what makes rape culture so pervasive.