So this year something happened to me at school that I never thought could or would happen. I am 14 and through out my school year, my butt would randomly get smacked whenever I was walking in the hallways. I haven’t told anyone this simply because I was and still am scared about what else the people who did this sort of horrible thing could do to me. I am sharing this because it is a big deal, it is sexual harassment and because I want the nightmares to stop.
Last year, I was going back home on foot. I passed several men who had no problem cat-calling and calling me beautiful. I moved on. It was about 1 pm (lunch time) and I was almost home when a car passed by me so close my arm hit one of the side mirrors. The driver smacked my butt. He hadn’t even slowed down! I stopped walking and stared at the guy that was driving away, his hand still out the window, giving me the thumbs up. I’m 17 now.
So today I decided to not listen to music on the way home from school and got comments on my body from about 5 boys from a local school. I know it happens everyday because I watch them look me up and down as I walk past them; my hands clenched in fists. A couple of boys stepped in front of me right as I was passing them to try and make me jump. I know it’s not right but I don’t ever feel as though I can stand up to them. I often think, ‘what would happen if I punched him for self defence?’ and then I realise that he could and would do much worse things back. Just the other day, I realised, my brother referred to a group of girls at his youth group as “goes” and it made me so uncomfortable. But even in my own house, I didn’t feel able to say anything to him. It makes me so angry that so many people like me have to experience this, and that even I, aged only 14, feel worried walking past a group of teenage boys younger than me because I know they might try and trip me up or whistle at me. I never know what to do, and what any of us can do unless something is said to the boys? Because I know at the moment that nobody is confident enough to say anything to that school because everyone considers it normal behaviour.
I am a thirteen year old girl attending public school in the North West of England. After watching Laura Bates’ TED talk on Everyday sexism, I was inspired to share my story, so here I am. I feel like for people my age, there are many expectations for females and there is a certain role that a woman should fit, but many people don’t realise they hold these standards for us. There is so much pressure on girls to be funny, be hardworking, be confident, but at the same time you must be beautiful, have an arse, have nice boobs. I used to get so overwhelmed and I used to try and become like one of those perfect girls that everyone seems to idolise and adore. I have been teased by both girls and boys about the size of my bust, my skinniness, my lack of a bum, and frankly it is tiring. I wish I could say I have become a confident person who doesn’t care about these things, but I get very depressed about myself and sometimes I wonder; if I was like one of those girls, maybe my life would be a lot easier. Over-sexualisation of young girls is ever-present at my school. I have been sent images of boys’ penises and one boy even sent me screenshots from a porn video he was watching. Both of these were unsolicited. There is no escape. In school, boys have invented a game in which one boy says “1,2,3” to another boy and that person has to slap a girl’s behind. My friends have all been targeted in this game, and many girls pretend not to mind this assault, but when I have privately asked one, she admitted it was quite painful and not pleasant. Many people have reported this to the school with their only reply basically being “Boys will be boys”. Many boys in my year have described how they have ‘wanked over my pictures’ and frequently discuss what types of porn they masturbate to. Obviously this makes me extremely uncomfortable, but I honestly don’t know what to do about it. Also, it is extremely taboo for a girl to masturbate, and nobody would ever dream of admitting it. My friends were having a conversation the other day about how they didn’t really know what masturbation meant for a girl but it ‘sounded painful and weird’. I am very fortunate to have a liberal mother with whom I can discuss issues like this with, and so I am educated on my own body and what everything is. I felt like if I told them what a clitoris was, though, they would think I was strange. It sounds stupid, I know. I used to be extremely ambitious, but I think it has been a gradual thing where the gender stereotypes and gender roles of a woman have slowly changed me to become less so. I have found myself dumbing myself down to others, particularly boys, in order to seem less intelligent. I don’t exactly know why. I also changed my career path from being a firefighter to being a teacher a couple of years ago because I was told by a group of boys that it wasn’t a job for a woman, and I specifically remember it being said with a tangible disdain. I used to profess myself as a proud feminist, until I found out that feminists were labelled as radical, unnecessary beings who were stereotyped as either lesbian or delusional. ‘Feminist’ went alongside ‘idiot’, because apparently women are equal to men. I literally have grown to have a hatred for the male species BECAUSE of this ludicrous idea that all men seem to agree on. Of course we aren’t equal!! Not until you stop sexualising my body! Not until you stop acting like women are things and not people! Not until you stop sending me pictures of your dick! Not until you stop holding impossible double standards for women! Not until you stop female sexuality being taboo! I don’t really have much of a ‘story’ , but I thought it would be good for myself to tell somebody about what is really been going on with young people, about the extreme sexualisation of everything, the effects that media has on girls and the utter shame that goes along with the word ‘feminism’. Note: I am, in fact, now a proud feminist once again. ‘Girl Up’ was given to me by an auntie, and this gave me validation that the things going on around me were wrong. Thank you for giving my post your time to read :).
I recently am reading the book Everyday Sexism. 5 years on, I thought that some things might have changed, but only yesterday I was catcalled walking alone in the afternoon in modest clothing, and my childhood was still influenced by gender roles. I’m a 17 year old girl, but I definitely realise the importance and impact of change.
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.
I have experienced patronizing and intimidating language such as have a ‘good day darling’ at the corner shop, Subway and the tube station. I don’t know any of these men personally so I feel so uncomfortable when they say this to me. I would have preferred it they said ma’m or miss as it is more formal,as i would feel comfortable for them.
I was just having a funny snapchat convo with this boy in one of my classes about whether books were worthwhile or not and suddenly, after not saying anything for a while, he sends two words. suck me. I didn’t respond. I took a picture of it (not a screenshot, I used another device) and saved it so that I have proof. I am shaking at this point, in fact I’m still shaking now. I told my friend about it. I sent her the pictures I took, and she said “Haha. Ya. That’s funny.” Then she said she had to go. I said its not funny and asked if she had gotten them. The answer had apparently been yes. She said that “the last thing he had said was strange, but it was all really funny.” I suppose that could have been fair enough. The first part of the conversation had been funny. I asked her if she knew what suck me meant, because while I thought she did, she certainly wasn’t acting like it. She did know what it meant. I responded, “That’s not strange, that’s sexual harassment.” Because it was. She told me, “It’s fine. He’s a teenaged boy. That’s what they do.” I sent her a series of three texts after that. They read, “It’s not fine. They need to learn to control themselves. If they don’t now they never will.” “Next step, he’s older and hes yelling that at women across the street, maybe he’s even grabbing them or slapping their ass or something.” “There’s no excuse” She ended the conversation with “We can talk about this hilarious conversation tomorrow. I have to eat now. Bye.” and that was it. I felt violated and disgusting. Was I leading him on in any way? At all? I don’t think I was, but after this I dont feel sure. I was also disgusted and disappointed with how casually she treated it. It can’t just be treated as boys will be boys. It cant. If thats how we treat it then they could end up being a rapist, or at least sexually harassing women. It’s not okay, it’s never okay, and no age justifies it. This is how rape culture has affected people’s outlook on sexual harassment. This is not okay. This is never okay. I know I’m not the only one with a story like this. A lot of people have much worse stories. This needs to end. (I also posted this on tumblr)
When I was abou 13-14 years old, I remember, a friend of our family and actually my sister’s godfather, started “coming over” quite a lot. It was just like him visiting us and chatting drinking coffee with my mim and myself, who were usually at home (after school). He himself had a daughter and a son, quite closed to my age. So, He started coming over for nearly everyday and was everytime very interested in what I was doing. So interested that my Moment was Wanderung why eh came over so much and why eh was so interested in me. He wouldnt stop asking me questions like “Do you have a boyfriend yet?” or “i would Understand why the boys Must like you” or would comment about my apperance, my eye-liner or something else. One time he even commented about my tits (“oh you have big tits for your age, good for you, I’ve Heard men/boys Must like that.”) next to my mum (she Said nothing in response). I also Never knew how to respond to that. Also, when i was Reading a magazine for teenagers (called “BRAVO”), which everybody read at my age, he Flickend through it and showed me the Pages of a naked Boy and girl (“Dr. Sommer” would answer to questions about the body) and making commented about them. It made me Feel very uncomfortable and i didn’t want him to come over and be always at our home anymore, but on the other side i couldn’t go anywhere else, which made me feel trapped and I didn’t say anything because I felt ashamed and didn’t Know if that behaviour was right or wrong. So in the end my mum Asked him about it and he confessed he had crush on me (or something like that) and wouldn’t come over anymore. My sister was very sad, because he was very nice (like you are actually to a child) to her and I felt very guilty about it. I felt like i destroyed a family’s friendship. I can say after that I was seriously scared about men and didn’t want anything to do with them for a long time. I didn’t Tell my sister anything, until she was 18.
I’m 14, but every time I’m in the city I get catcalled or winked at. When I tell someone, they tell me to just cross the road. Why should I have to cross the road but they don’t have to get some common decency?