everydaysexism

Ruby

In 1964 I was abused by a 14 year old boy babysitter when I was six years old. My parents tried to help but nothing happened. No one thought of going to the police because it wasn’t done in those days. I didn’t know it at the time but when my mother was seven she was sodomized with a broom handle by teenage boys in a park by her home. No one could find them. When I was nine a classmate knocked me down on my way home saying he was going to rape me. The school’s response was to keep me after school for about half an hour every day for a few weeks so he could get home before I tried to get home safely. At a YWCA pool a man I was chatting with took hold of my hand and put it on his erect penis under water. In my first term at the university a professor announced that he used to put slides of Playboy’s naked women in with the others to “keep students awake.” Another professor came into class and dropped his trousers to his knees so he could “adjust himself.” When I complained to the department head I was told not to worry because my prof would be retiring in the next few years. Once on the bus a man slid his hand under me and grinned salaciously until I yelled at him in the biggest, lowest pitched voice I could manage, “MOVE.” He did even though the bus was jam packed with people holding packages of holiday shopping. After years of putting up with a man whistling at me at work and when complaining to my boss didn’t work (it’s a he said she said situation) I finally yelled at him, “Don’t you ever, ever, ever do that to me again!” He turned around and went back the way he had come. A few years earlier a shorter coworker hauled off and decked this same man but clearly he didn’t learn a thing. As a sensible woman I am afraid to walk outside alone at night unless I am with a dog in my own neighborhood. This is no guarantee though. The halls of my apartment building are not safe. The management refuses to pay for a security guard even though I was assaulted in the lobby, there was a push-in robbery across the hall, there are often dirty needles in the stairway and many people are in wheelchairs. There are places I don’t go because it isn’t safe for me. I often think of what might help me in an attack. Fear makes me freeze almost always. I feel paralyzed and can’t make a sound. I’m getting more comfortable with the idea of yelling and also that hurting an attacker is just fine and may even be essential. I struggle with major depression, anxiety and PTSD though I haven’t felt suicidal in the last couple of years. I don’t hesitate to help others but I freeze like a rabbit when I feel threatened. All of this has left me hypervigilant and full of anger and rage and fear that I can’t get rid of. My mother is the same way and I think it nearly destroyed her to learn that I was abused in first grade. My life is circumscribed by fear.

Anon

Growing up it was so normal to slut shame girls, I did it all the time. I couldn’t count on both of my hands the amount of friends I had who had never gone further than kissing a boy who were considered “sluts” around the school. I wasn’t allowed to wear skirts until I was 13 because my dad said that I would get raped if I did so, seems plausible right? This put the idea in my mind that dressing provocatively was grounds for being sexually assaulted. I remember a time that my dad said “Well, look at her, her boobs are hanging out! Of course she got raped!” My best friends sister was labeled as a slut in my household because she was a bigger girl who wore shorts and tank tops, god forbid she wear summer clothes in the summer! It took me so many years to get out of this mindset; to understand that way of thinking was wrong. It wasn’t until I was 18 or 19 and moved out of my house that I began to overtly and unabatedly stand for feminism without fear of what my father and brothers would say. To this day, I have not had a dinner with my family that does not involve discrimination against women in some way, shape or form.

Erah

I was on 7th grade when this happened at school. There where group of boys in the classroom that jokes around touching boobs cause they saw girls touching each others boobs. Boys do think its normal and is no big deal for us. I mock them telling them that shouldn’t do it but they were aggressive and they start touching my boobs and grabs my skirt(uniform) to touch my groin and everyone starts laughing. I didn’t know what to do then instead of running outside, I hit my classmate’s nuts so that they would stop. That event changes my whole highschool life an everytime I remind myself of it I get embarrassed of myself cause that wouldn’t happened if I didn’t stop them.

Sydney

When I was 15 my best friend took me to Mexico with her mom and sister for her 16th birthday. When we got there, her mom convinced the front desk that we were 18 so that we could get adult wristbands and drink at the bar. This was my first time travelling outside of my country and I had no idea what it was going to be like. There was a resort worker that took interest in me and was constantly whistling and making flirty suggestions toward me, so I told my friend that it seemed like he was trying to get my attention. She assured me that this was normal in Mexico and it was their job to be flirty with the guests staying on the resort. That same day he pulled me behind a shack while my friends were playing a drinking game and tried to make out with me and I was so drunk that I can’t remember whether we did or not. One night we were really drunk and got on a train to go to the resort beside ours. The same resort worker was there and when we arrived he immediately directed me to a back room. That is when he raped me. He made me suck his dick and then had sex with me. When I started to yell he covered my mouth and told me to be quiet or someone will hear. I don’t remember much else, and have no idea how I ended up back in my hotel. When I woke up in the morning I was on the bathroom floor, half naked, wrapped around the toilet. Initially, I had no recollection of what had happened the night before, until I noticed that there was blood all over my underwear. That is how I remembered that I was raped that night. That morning we got up and went to breakfast. The resort worker was everywhere we went, and when he saw me he would wink and whistle at me, taunting me, and sometimes even growl sexually. My friend and her sister would laugh because I had told them before how he was flirty with me and they thought it was an innocent joke. On our last day when we were waiting in the lobby for our bus to leave he sat beside us to say goodbye. He made jokes and laughed with my friend and her family and said he would miss us. He took my phone out of my hands, smiled, and took a photo of himself. I deleted it as soon as we left. I never told anyone. I was scared that it was my fault because I was so drunk, maybe I was flirting and he thought I wanted it. Maybe it was my fault because I had an adult wristband on and he had no idea I was underaged. I also didn’t want my friend’s mom to get in trouble for allowing us to drink and not keeping an eye on us. I felt guilty because I was in a relationship and thought I had cheated on my boyfriend by allowing this to happen. I told my best friend 6 months later and she kept it a secret for me, I don’t remember much about her response, we were so young that I doubt she understood it herself. It’s been 5 years and a few people close to me know, but I’ve never told anyone in my family in fear that they will hate my friends mom and blame her for allowing me to drink, and blame me for doing the drinking. I feel guilty that I never did anything and that I didn’t stop him from doing this to another 15 year old girl. It affects me to this day, even though sometimes I feel like I just need to get over it. So many men make me uncomfortable, I have a hard time feeling safe being intimate. I get easily uncomfortable when I am being sexualized, even in a safe environment with my loving boyfriend.

Heather

I was at a work meeting yesterday where I & a male colleague *John were the reps for our department, all the others were from different departments & all male. *Gary, who was leading the meeting, asked John for an update on a project which I was the lead on (this is widely known). John immediately reminded everyone that I was the lead and referred to me to give the update. Gary asked several follow up questions, all directed to John. John was awesome & on every occasion referred to me to answer. Once he was satisfied Gary thanked John & didn’t even acknowledge me like John was some kind of ventriloquist & I was his dummy!

Rachel

I know that I’m smart. I’m not bragging, because it’s the truth. I am one of the smartest people in my grade. But the boys don’t like that. On a regular basis, I’m told to ‘go back to the kitchens’ or ‘this is a job/project/question/etc. for a man to do’. Or, they catcall or grope. I was told to be quiet when I tried to report it. ‘He has issues’ they said. So when they told me to go back to the kitchen, I told them that women live longer because the kitchen is where the knives are. If they grope me, I slap them. If someone asks why I can say that he had groped me. Things can get better, but if we want things to change, we have to do it ourselves.

annalisa

today I want through a public place. A man literally catcalled me. He popped his tongue in the exact same way in which I do when I’m trying to get my cat’s attention.

Paige

I am 16 years old working at my first job and one of my 34 year old male coworkers said I was hot.

Bethany

I am a playwright – have been for over two years and have been lucky enough to have a lot of success. I usually charge $30-$120 to read and give feedback on a play and I know I’m worth every penny. I was invited to give feedback on various plays being read in a workshop. For the first four plays, every time after I spoke with questions or concerns about the piece, a man in the group jumped in and said why I was wrong and why the piece was fine as it was. This is a playwright who has, in the past, sent me creepy and unwanted emails and exhibited other toxic behaviors. Now he was clearly rebutting everything I said, coming across particularly strong to defend the other pays by older, straight, white male playwrights (who were 3/4 of the playwrights I was hearing from). What was worse was when I took the moderator – a woman – aside to draw attention to the fact that this guy was interrupting and undermining me, when I’d specifically been asked to attend and give feedback, she said he probably just wanted people to “feel good” about what they wrote and “he has daughters so he can’t be a sexist.” Good grief.

Michelle

I have heard men in powerful positions at my new job tell roofie jokes. I asked my most trusted new colleague, who is a man, about why the jokes were being told, and I expressed that I thought roofie jokes were outdated and sexist. My male colleague said I should value my relationships with these male colleagues (the roofie joke tellers) and think long and hard before raising concern. Since then, my once trusted male colleague has acted more distant. Looks like I’m going to have to decide between being likable and passive or smart and brave.