My boyfriend used to talk all the time about how much he respects women and then one day he would take some drugs and rape me and would never talk about it again because it “hurts him”.
So, I know this is something many women (particularly young women) have experience of. I live in Scotland and, more than once, I have been standing on the street or sitting in a public space and have been told by an older man (different men on each occasion…I think) to smile. In fact, the phrase of choice is: ‘cheer up lass, it might never happen’. In these circumstances, I have been neutral – maybe reading, in thought, or listening to music. This infuriates me because I know that men aren’t spoken to the same way. The mentality is that women are ‘prettier’ when they smile and, as women are only put on this planet for the pleasure of men, we should really always be smiling.
When I was about ten me and my younger cousin were trying to climb a large wall. my cousin was only 6 at the time. I tried climbing but I couldn’t. After a while of trying, an 18 year old guy that I knew (I had seen him around a few times) offered to help. I wanted to decline but I was desperate to climb the wall so I agreed so he put his hand UNDERNEATH my butt and lifted me up. I didn’t think much about it but before I reached the top I ended up falling so when he was about to pick me up again, he put his hand IN my pants and groped my ass before pushing me up the wall. I didn’t say anything about it because it was embarrassing. After a few days I had often cried about it and I didn’t wanna tell my parents because I was scared they would shout at me for letting him pick me up. After a while I told my uncle and he sorted it out for me.
I was in seventh grade, and my class had a substitute teacher. During silent reading, our teacher would pick three or four random names out of a container to sit on the comfy chairs in the back (some armchairs). My name was picked and I stood up to sit down to read in the back of the room. While I stood up, the substitute teacher made a remark in front of the whole class that I only got picked because I was pretty (and other stuff about my body). I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and uncomfortable, not only because a 50-60 year old man said this to a teenager girl, but also because everyone in my class turned to stare at me while he was speaking, and I felt the weight of their eyes on me and my body. Luckily, I never saw the substitute teacher again, but for the next few months I was terrified that I would be put in a class with him. This incident made me feel so humiliated and self conscious that for years I tried to block out what he said and felt pain when I remembered it. Please speak up if something like this happens to someone you know. No one in my class did.
I was on a train. There was only one seat left on the carriage and a man took it I was 16 at the time, he was maybe 20. He offered the seat to me and I declined, saying that I was fine with standing, he got there first. Then he jokingly asked me to sit on his lap. I laughed nervously and said no again. For the next 15 minutes, until he got off at his stop, he kept going, kept asking me to sit on his lap, joking about how he couldn’t let a poor woman stand. I think it became obvious that I was deeply uncomfortable after he first minute. After he left, I felt ashamed and deeply embarrassed. Another woman had watched the whole thing and stayed silent which made be feel more mortified, not because I blamed her, but felt embarrassed that someone else had even seen it. I initially didn’t tell anyone, and thought that it was somehow my fault, but as I got older, I look back and like to think that if that were to happen to me today, I’d have enough confidence to shut him down.
I was talking with one of my male friends, a boy I have known since I was three. I am fourteen now. For some reasons one of them decided to bring up that women who had hair on any body part besides their head were ‘disgusting’ and that ‘no guy would ever want them.’ He continued to talk about how girls needed to shave their pubes, otherwise it was gross, and that hairy legs or armpits were just not right. Eventually I interrupted him and said ‘Well then, if its really gross, then why do not shave? Why is it that it is only gross on women?.’ He continued to splutter however, and said that no, guys did not have to shave their hair or their pubes, but in fact only women did. I looked at him straight in the eye then and said “Isn’t it my body? Shouldn’t I have a choice over whether I shave or not, instead of being forced to shave for male pleasure?” He then repeated his earlier points, complaining that women needed to shave, and this time I said “So am I an object? Do I just live for your pleasure? Or am I allowed to make my own decisions about my own body?” He stopped his rant here, and then made a comment about how annoying feminists were. I know for a fact his own mother is a feminist. Yet he does nothing but disrespect her, myself and girls everywhere. The double standard needs to end, for I am not just some hairless object for men to gaze upon whenever they wish.
Exactly two years ago..I was at the club with my then boyfriend and his friends. It was a great night as everything was coming along and the drinks started kicking in..there was a girl that he was talking to in a flirty way but I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to cause a scene. As I was dancing with one of my closest friends..who was a girl btw. He turned to me and started digging his nails in my neck telling me that I was blowing kisses to another guy. Even though I was standing right next to him. It was all a lie. I was just dancing with my friend. I started bleeding. And he took my bag and started telling me to leave. Knowing very well he was my ride home and I didn’t have any cash on me. It was embarrassing. Because he was doing this in front of his friends. And because he knew he had the power to do so.. as a reaction for making my neck bleed with his nails..I got up. Took my bag. Slapped him. And left. I went outside. I called my friend crying. Telling her to send me money so I could go home. He followed me to a dark street. Found me. Hit me. Slapped me. Punched me. Kicked me. This whole time…he’s asking me why I’m making him do this to me. It’s like I asked for it. When his friend found us…he was trying to stop him. And he kept telling him to stop interfering in our business. Another stranger tried to help me..and he pushed her and almost hurt her as well. He put me forcefully in a cab home. And took me to his house and Everytime I was threatening to run and tell my dad…he’d run after me. What’s crazy about this whole thing is…he made it seem like it was my fault he did that to me. It’s like I deserved it.
As one of the only females in the service (and the only female in a senior position) I was repeatedly told by male members of staff that “we shouldn’t have girls working here”. When the team manager announced that he has recruited someone to the vacant post we had, a male member of staff said “please tell me it’s a man?”. The manager laughed and said “beggars can’t be choosers!” and apologised for appointing a woman (who is extremely experienced and is actually over qualified for the post).
After receiving repeated explicit and detailed threats of sexual violence in the workplace on a daily basis for weeks from a patient who is a convicted sex offender, I discussed these with my line manager who stated “well what do we expect when we bring a beautiful woman on the ward” and laughed. He didn’t discuss it beyond this. I was the only woman in the team at the time and had not been in the service long so did not feel comfortable to report my line manager to more senior managers. I expressed to my team that I did not feel safe on the ward but the patient was not moved wards and I continued to have to go onto the ward he was on every day. When he started being allowed periods of leave off the ward, I stayed late at work to ensure that I didn’t have to walk from the building to my car at a time when he might be allowed to be out, particularly as he had made a point of telling me several times that he knew which car was mine. I felt I had to take these steps to manage the risk myself as I did not feel that anyone else was taking the risk to me seriously. I consulted the advice of a male psychologist colleague who specializes in working with sex offenders. He told me that “there’s nothing you can really do other than eat 10 donoughts a night”. A member of nursing staff told me that it is my fault because I have not lied to the patient and pretended that I’m married. I explained that my relationship status is irrelevant and being single does not justify sexual harassment and sexual aggression but they continued to say things like this, including in front of the patient. The patient stated to the whole team in a ward round that he is going to spank me and nobody challenged him at all. As part of my role, I had to sit in meetings where others or myself had to read out reports regarding the patients progress/mental state/behaviour, which frequently included quotes the patient had made where he described my breasts and bottom in detail, or described masturbating whilst thinking of me. It was extremely humiliating to have to sit in a professional meeting in a room full of people, in a role I have worked hard to be taken seriously in, and to have extremely personal descriptions about myself read out to everyone. Nobody asked if I was ok or offered to censor the material. This went on for months and only ended because I left the service. This is not unique to that service, but is a problem pervasive in forensic mental health services.
One day, in 8th grade I was sharing a desk with a couple of friends and a boy that I didn’t know. Out of no where the boy started talking to me he said “I will name all the flat things in the room, this desk and..” he didn’t finish but before I could say anything my friend told him how rude he was and how he should never talk to someone like that again. I now know what kind of people I should hang out with. You really know who your friends are in situations like this.