Around Christmastime last year I went to see the doctor with a rather *embarrassing* problem, which he diagnosed as a STI. I told him that was impossible, as I had never had unprotected sex in my life. He refused to believe me and asked if I often went out drinking. I told him that I went to the pub with my female friends normally twice a week. He then responded that the most logical explanation was that somebody had raped me when I was drunk. He gave me a script for some medication to treat the condition, and told me that it was my responsibility to make sure I didn’t have sex for the next five weeks, even though ‘boys can be insistent’. As I left the surgery, he told me ‘not to let this happen again.’ Two weeks later, a female doctor called me back and explained that he had misdiagnosed my condition. He hadn’t listened to my history, and had made assumptions about my youth and my gender, instead of my situation. Never been so angry in my entire life. Sharing because I felt very ashamed and angry- I hope that if someone else is going through the same thing, you’ll realise that it’s not your fault. Look after yourselves gals xx
When I was 16, just 3 years ago. My female Youth Pastor pulled me aside at a youth retreat in which we were about to go play games in the gym upstairs. She told me to change out of my yoga pants because they were inappropriate and showed off too much of my butt. I told her it was my body and I didn’t really mind. She then yelled at me and continued to explain that the boys would come to her and tell her that when the girls dressed in this manner it made them have sinful thoughts. That I was the distraction. That I was causing the boys to sin. I told her they need to control their thoughts then. She said no. She said that boys naturally have these thoughts. That this is normal for boys to do and we need to help them by covering our bodies. In which my Aunt promptly agrees with her statements. They made me question my budding feminist beliefs at the age. They made me think maybe they were right. That maybe boys couldn’t control these thoughts. They made me feel so ashamed of myself that I went and changed. To this day the memory will just pop up into my head and it makes me feel disgusted.
I was followed twice in the same day, two different locations, by the same man. I don’t know if, to this day, meeting him the second time was a coincidence or if he had followed me all day. When I phoned my boyfriend, very upset and in shock, the first time, he shouted at me for phoning him instead of going straight to find a police officer. When I told my boyfriend about the second following, he shouted at me and told me it was my own fault for walking down a street with no CCTV to get to work.
Late in July 2015, I attended a two-day workshop where our team of all-women managers was briefed by the all-men directors of the private sector company at which I work. At the conclusion of day one, everyone met up at the restaurant for dinner, sitting together and enjoying good food, great wine and light conversation. My colleague and I, both in our 40s, were seated directly across the table from 2 of the 4 male directors. The 2 of us had been chatting about participating in a martial arts class (her) and pilates (me), and were agreeing how staying active and getting fit contributed to a sense of well-being. One of the directors chose that moment to join the conversation, asking a couple of questions, before proceeding to describe a recent trip he’d made to watch tennis at Wimbledon, including the women’s and men’s singles finals. He then retrieved his smartphone in order to show to the director seated next to him and us the photographs he’d taken of Serena Williams, who had just won the title. His exact words were: “Look at her arse! She’s got the biggest arse ever. I have never seen an arse so massive!” For several minutes as they scrolled through the dozen or so photographs, and passed judgement not on Serena Williams’ sporting achievements and skills, but her body. They did this in front of a table of educated, hardworking women who they employ. I am disgusted with myself that I didn’t say something clever or jump up and quit on the spot. They behaved as they did because we had been “uppity women” who had forgotten our places, had forgotten that in their world it is men, not women, who get to decide what makes us happy, well, successful. And they had adopted a strategy of belittling a successful, powerful, skillful woman of colour to remind all of us of our places. Nearly one year on, this incident enrages and shames me still.
My favorite four-year-old is a tirelessly sweet child who loves hugs and is filled with empathy for his playmates and family members. Unfortunately, in the last year he has started expressing shame for enjoying activities that are outside stereotypical boy gender roles. I expect he is being teased at his daycare. I don’t blame the kids at his daycare, as they’re mostly too young to understand the perpetuation they’re participating in, but it hurts me to see him hurting instead of shamelessly enjoying the world.
A few weeks back my wonderful mother, who raised me as equal to my brothers, encouraged me in everything I did and is a vocal supporter of equality, broke down in tears while walking home from town with me. I’ve rarely seen her cry. Shes a primary school teacher, and told me that at the staff Christmas party her male colleague spiked her drink and then proceeded to try to snog and grope her. The other staff just sat by drunkenly laughing. They thought it was funny because my mum doesn’t drink and they thought it would be amusing to see her off her face. When he tried to grab her they thought it was funny to see her ‘out of control’. Whats most fucked up is that my mum thinks its her fault. She took months to tell me what happened, even longer to tell my brothers why she was scared to go back to work. She was scared to bring it to the head for fear her colleagues would hate her. My mother raised me to see sexual harassers as scum, but still thinks its her fault when men treat her badly. For reference, shes in her late 50s. This isn’t something exclusive to ‘young attractive girls who dress provocatively’.
A story from Finland. I was 12 when I was visiting my aunt and her husband like I often did. My aunt’s husband, let’s call him “Sami”, got drunk and started commenting my new, more feminine body in very inappropiate ways. When my aunt went to kitchen to do the dishes and I was left alone with Sami in the living room he started touching my breasts and thighs and said obscene things. I was so horrofied and shocked that I could not do anything but sit still. I had known Sami for years and considered him a safe nice adult and an authority. I was raised well, a good girl, it did not occur to me that I could, and SHOULD, say NO to an adult. The evening was terrible. Always when my aunt emerged from the kitchen me and Sami acted normal and when she went away Sami started touching me. To this date, when I’m 27, my aunt does not know. I only told my parents and they asked me what I wanted to be done, and I said I don’t want any drama, I was so ashamed. Of course my parents should have told the police and Sami should rot in jail. But they were schocked and ashamed too and on the other hand, sexual crimes in Finland are practically no crimes because no one gets a penalty. For years I tried to forget it all and did not think about it. When 10 years had passed and I was 22 I started to go through it again and realized that Sami must be a pedophile. I remember that when I was a small kid, like 7-10, he wanted to go in the elevator alone with me and he told that it is customary to kiss if two people are together in elevator. He just pecked me, so no long kisses, so I did not realize it was wrong although I hated it and did not want to do it. Soon I started saying that I always take the stairs and I developed a kind of phobia towards elevators. Also I remember that when we were in the archipelago where there are a lot of ticks, he wanted to do a tick-check to me every night, which meant that I had to undress and he watched me very closely from every angle. I felt very uncomfortable but he said it is important to find any ticks. When I now, as an adult, realise what that all was, I feel so sick and I hate him so much allthough I would like to be a good christian and forgive him. People like him should never be let alone with kinds and young kids should be taught that in certain occasions they can, and must, say no to adults.
I lost my virginity as an aftermath of rape. But I did nothing to report it or get justice. It was my mistake. I was 17. I thought that the guy was cute and smart and funny and sweet and friendly. I was the one that agreed to meet up after the festival we worked at together. I was the one who decided to wear shorts and a top at a hot summer night. I was the one who decided to have a drink that night. I was the one who didn’t have to go home that night. I was the one that loved movies and agreed to go to his place to watch both of ours favourite. I was the one who didn’t know how to say NO. I was the one who let herself be pushed on a couch. I was the one with clothing so easy to take off. I talked about it to a friend of mine. “At least you are not a virgin anymore!” was all she told me. So I stopped talking about it. I was told it had been a “win win” situation. I had won a first kiss taken by force. I had won microscopic wounds in my vagina and bleeding for three days. I had won a lost virginity. I had won trust issues. I had won distaste for my favourite film. I had won an STD. I had won changing the things I wear. I had won the paniced feeling everytime I go out with friends. I had won not wanting to talk to any of our mutual friends. I had won hating my feminen body. I had won false shame for having a vagina. I had won depression. What did he win? I do not know and I do not want to know.
A few years ago I got my first job as a waitress in a cafe that my dad’s friend and his wife owned. The workers were really nice and fun to be around, at least for the first month. And I loved it there. But later, when I was part of the “qlique”, I started doubting them. That was when the harrasment started. I had seen them do it to each other in the fist month, never did they include me. It seemed like an inside joke and because some of them had been or were at the time in a relationship with eachother it did not seem as much. I was a virgin, never had I been intimate with someone. And then the “jokes” started. slapping my ass in front of the costumers, pinching my boobs, sex noises behinde the WC door, standing behind me with hands on my hips while I was pouring drinks, humping me from behinde as a surprise and the endless sex jokes and suggestions. I was scared to tell the owners that I was not comfortable with it because I was ashemed that my dad would find out. I was scared of slut shaming, tho I had done nothing wrong. I had asked the others to stop it, but got called chicken and told to loosen up. And as it was my first ever job, I didn’t want nor could I lose it. But I had this inside feeling, that if I did ask for it to stop and reported it, I would be sacked.