I worked tech support for 2 years in college, and when I wasn’t working phones, I was working the desk. It was set up in our university library, so any student/faculty visiting the library could get face-to-face support. One afternoon I was working alongside a male colleague; we were both the same age, etc. A male student approached the front of the queue (which was empty). Both my male colleague and I looked up. The person looked at me, looked at my colleague, and didn’t really know who to approach. To be fair, one of us should have said “I can help you” or something, but we didn’t and just waited to see who he would approach. After a second or two, the student stuttered out sheepishly, “uhh I think he can help me better” and went to my male colleague. At the time I was kind of relieved that I didn’t have to help him, so I could keep working on my homework. But his comment still stuck with me. Why was my male colleague able to help him better? And I know the student wasn’t being mean about it, that was just his off-guard response.
A friend of my fiancé asked to stay at our flat for a few days to save money on a hotel whilst he was in the area. Being nice people, we obviously said yes. I have always been nice to this friend, always provided food and drinks free of charge, had a laugh with him, listened to his stories etc. Today, in front of my fiancé and our other friends, he says how I’m a dog and basically a bitch, and no one said anything to defend me. Not wanting to rock the boat, I had to laugh it off and pretend it was banter, even though he’s been explicit in the past year about how he hates me. Why should I have to put up with this asshole calling me a dog and a bitch, whilst he gets to sleep, eat and drink in my flat for free? I wanted to slap him, but he is stronger than me and I don’t know if I’d have gotten the support from the people around me.
About 10 years ago, I started university. My backwards ex and his friends came to the sudden conclusion that, since me being an hour’s drive away at college MUST mean that I’m definitely cheating on him, it was preferable if I stopped university and stayed at home to be a house wife. I laughed in his face and told him to get fucked, naturally. But I stayed in a relationship with him. For the next year I was NOT allowed to mention my college friends or ANYTHING university related if it wasn’t strictly to do with my course work and degree. Breaking this unofficial rule mean I would be met with glares and the cold shoulder that lasted for ages. I most certainly was NOT “allowed” to see my friends over the Summer/Christmas or any other vacation time. The August before my second year started, I mentioned how I WAS going to go to a college friends birthday party in a few weeks. I was essentially told “No, I will not allow it!” by my ex. I told him “You have no say and I am NOT your girlfriend anymore!”. One of THE best decisions I ever made, my only regret is that i didn’t do it sooner! 😀
Grey clouds of sexual abuse linger of university campuses. Most people are so accustomed to it they don’t see it or realise it’s there. Niave, tipsy and heartbroken from a recent breakup I agreed to have sex with a boy who was tall, good looking and charming. I liked the attention, I felt excited, wanted and in control. The clouds started to linger when he said he didn’t want to use a condom. I told him no, and said I valued my safety. Reluctantly agreeing he put one on. The storm brewed when he asked to do anal. I said no, and tried to continue, longing safe consentual sex. But you can’t stop storms, and sometimes they scare you leaving you paralysed. I didn’t think someone would go against your basic wishes for how you wanted your body treated. After saying no once you freeze with shock because you wasn’t expecting hail stones and thunder. When the storm passes you see the damage. The condom was on the floor, taken of with out me knowing leaving me vulnerable damaged and unprotected. Why would someone take your life ring in turbulent seas. He called me a slut and ran out my room. Months went by feeling ashamed. I felt dirty. It was my fault right, I was tipsy and I said I’d have sex with him? Eventually I confided in a friend and cried with relief of a burden shared. But my cloud wasn’t alone, there were storms everywhere lingering to strike. My friend had been raped by a boy who she had sex with the previous week, coming back thinking he was entitled to her body. Forced oral sex, wandering hands and broken promises lingered over my friends and my university.
I teach on a short course at a UK university which is mainly attended by students much older than myself (I’m 24). During a practical, a middle-aged man asked me about a common but outdated/misleading piece of language used when interpreting statistics. I told him that the use of language was inappropriate, clearly backed up why and explained how careful we must be when choosing language for these sorts of things. I was told that I apparently had “a very strong opinion” and that I “can’t be completely correct” because he uses it a lot. Why did he bother asking?
I work in a majority female profession at a university and have not really had to deal with daily, repeated sexist behavior before. I have not had a problem with any of my male colleagues. But now I have a new boss’s boss that is sexist – examples of soft/subtle sexism happen multiple times every day. My male colleagues are also seeing it for what it is and together we are trying to navigate how to handle it. Here are a few examples of what I have experienced: 1) I was in a conference room at work waiting for people to show up to a committee meeting. My new boss’s boss (male) and a male colleague were already in the room. I had my laptop open as I was trying to meet a deadline and needed to keep an eye on email as I was watching for an update from a student employee. I was also opening documents to reference during the meeting as I had a number of items I wanted to discuss. The boss’s boss looks at my male colleague and then over at me and then asks me to take notes. I gave him a cold stare but agreed (in hindsight, I have a lot of things I wish I had said instead). I took the shittiest notes because (a) I was trying to be an active member of the meeting (taking notes gets in the way of participation), (b) I had important topics I wanted to discuss (with documents that I needed to reference up at on my laptop screen…no room for the doc to take notes on that screen), (c) I was trying to meet a deadline, (d) I needed to assist a student employee via email and, (e) his request told me that he did not see me as an equally valued member of this committee. Sure, someone needs to take notes at the meetings. This should be handled by asking for a volunteer at the start of the meeting with the understanding that this duty will be rotated among the group. Don’t just ask the woman in the room. I’m not your damn secretary! I have two master’s degrees. 2) I was reporting about a donation at a meeting the other day and he cut me off, laughed a little in amusement, and said “that was cute.” WTF? I was just stating a fact about this donor in order to provide him with some background information. Would he interrupt my male colleague to say what he reported “was cute”?!? 3) Near the beginning of a dept. meeting, a male colleague mentioned that he needed to leave our meeting early to meet with a professor so we saved agenda items that did not concern him for the end of the meeting. When we got to that point in the agenda, the male colleague quietly got up to leave. This is when my female boss was in the middle of asking my boss’s boss about our work priorities on a project I am involved with. Boss’s boss doesn’t even acknowledge my boss is speaking – he just jumps up and hurriedly follows out after our male colleague while asking a question about football. Another female colleague and I stared at each other in disbelief, told our boss what just happened (because she was referencing items on her computer screen and didn’t see how he ignored her and left), I yelled out the conference room at our boss’s boss “The meeting isn’t over!” while my female colleague yells “[Boss’s name] was in the middle of an important question!” Boss’s boss barely acknowledged us… just waved his hand at us saying “oh yeah..in a minute” while continuing to speak with our male colleague about football… I have lost all respect for this man as a professional, as a leader, and as a human being. All of my interactions with him are now seen through this lens. I am getting tired of having to amplify my voice so that he won’t interrupt me (he still does but I just keep speaking loudly to finish my thought) while male colleagues can finish their thoughts. Then whatever boss’s boss says in “response” to me proves to me that he was still not listening to a word I said. I just leave meetings frustrated instead of ready to tackle a project. There are more examples that I could add. I am fortunate that I have my boss as an ally. We are unlucky because my boss’s boss constantly ignores us, interrupts us, disregards our experiences and opinions, and clearly does not value us as much as our dept’s male colleague (the male colleague is fully aware of what is happening, is an ally, and is also trying to help us figure out how to navigate it. It’s his boss’s boss as well. We recognize the uncomfortable positions we are both in when dealing with a superior. We reflect about these experiences of soft sexism and try to figure out how we can handle it better next time…)
“University academics decry lack of free speech” I was sympathetic til I read this bit ““Try arguing ‘there are boys and girls’… or as McEnroe has found out, that there are male and female tennis players.” That’s not what McEnroe said, he consistently trolled top female players by saying ANY man could beat them. (He does it on purpose to get publicity and be nasty because he never wanted to be a tennis player and doesn’t get on with women. ) No one is debating that most people are either male or female, or that there are some biological differences such as periods. No one. Didn’t university teach this chap what a straw man argument was? I think it’s high time we closed down “academics” who constantly tell us scientific biased factoids about how men are naturally more logical etc. So I’m not buying this man’s argument, it seems he’s just too used to being listened to and going unchallenged. I’m as tired of the gender nonsense as I am creationists, there’s no point arguing with men who still say men are naturally clever, more mtc etc, it’s not closing down free speech, it’s calling out sexism. Frankly having seen how sexist most academic men are, how sexist much of the academic canon is (read Freud and Schopenhauer) and how much students are now paying, I’m not surprised old attitudes are finally getting called out.
I was walking home from a late night dance with a group of friends a few months ago, when we were stopped by a car. The men in the car started insisting that we should kiss them. We told them no, and they started to follow us. There comments got more offensive as they continued, until they decided that we were too boring, and “what were we afraid of.” When I told my roommates, they laughed. One of them recently came home and told us about how the boy she went out with that night forcibly kissed her. After explaining in detail what happened, and telling us about how uncomfortable she had felt, one of the other girls tried to explain what she had done wrong. “It’s because you were alone together.” “You weren’t pushing him away right, so he thought you liked it.” Later, the date apologized, but since he shares a class with her, she now skips it and gets the notes elsewhere, because the whole situation was so uncomfortable.
I’m a student about to graduate in a computing subject. I was looking for a job and had a meeting with a recruitment agency to help my job hunting. When asked by the woman I was meeting with what my strengths and weaknesses are, I said that one of my weaknesses was programming. Her response was “Yeah, leave it to the boys”. No wonder there is a lack of women in my industry, as a recruitment agency I expected them to inspire me to reach my goals, not patronise me. Now I have my dream job without their help and a first class degree.
First of all, look out for those inherently/ subconsciously sexist people, who proclaim vigorously that rape culture does not exist, despite there being an environment where women are objectified and have their traumatic experiences viewed with indifference. Secondly, don’t worry; sexists will be punished due to karma under God, no matter what the Bible states. God is fair toward everyone and there will be justice. Moreover, always speak up whenever you receive any sort of sexist remark; don’t let it normalize any further, and please try to re-educate those who are sexist.