brummie biker

Some random examples of hurtful things that have happened because I am female.

– the countless times presumptuous correspondence arrives addressed incorrectly to Dr and Mrs, instead of Dr and Mr.

– being flashed by naked men as I commute by bicycle. Being very regularly heckled by male cyclists, pedestrians and car/van drivers as I cycle. Having a man fire a shotgun at me while cycling (poor aim, luckily). Being chased by a screaming man wielding a chef’s blowtorch while I am bicycle commuting. Having a firework thrown at me while I am cycling to work.

– yesterday: at a trades show, encountering 4 men who all referred to town Mayors as exclusively male; one commenting that I was victimising HIM when I pointed out that mayors could also be female. At the same show, while discussing technical details of a product, the salesman changes topic to tell me how pretty I am….even with my husband standing next to me.

– after years of fund-raising and organising as a teenager, finally getting the chance and privilege to join a conservation expedition to a rainforest, and in the middle of the very first night, waking up to realise one of the men has lain down beside me in our tent and is holding my hand. So then spending the rest of the 2 month expedition having to worry about whether I am going to be assaulted.

– cycling across France along a popular cycle route that is advertised worldwide, but never finding any public toilets en route that has provision for disposal of female sanitary products.

– consoling my 16 year old sister, who, at her first careers fair, is warned that training as an architect is probably going to be too demanding because she is likely to want to get married and have children before the end of the course.

– the time at secondary school when we were told to wear leotards for sports class, and a male teacher took the class as a substitute. He spent most of the time making us perform ‘exercises’ that involved spreading our legs wide apart, while he stared at our crotches.

– the disappointment in discovering that your employer has not complied with the government’s requirements for reporting the gender pay gap (is receiving a fine the lesser of two evils?). And the disappointment being compounded when the local union rep (male) fails to show any interest in chasing this up.

– the countless times in my career that my ideas are only seriously considered as good or valid after they have been ‘appropriated’ by a male colleague.

– the way at university open days I am still often assumed to be a student because I am female and look young for my age, even when I am wearing a name badge that indicates I have a PhD and am a senior lecturer.

– the hotel proprietor who used creepy ‘flattery’ tactics (you’re so pretty….how old are you….how do you stay so fit….etc) in an attempt to distract me from the fact he was over-charging for our meal.

– taking literally years to build up the confidence to wear shorts in public, the sudden feeling of healthful freedom, and then the man – a complete stranger – who destroyed all that within half an hour by loudly criticising the spider veins on my ankle.

– the constant frustration of only pink colour schemes being available in women’s cycle wear and motorcycle wear, which singles us out for special, unwanted attention. The designs / cuts that do not acknowledge a muscular female’s anatomy – we actually do develop muscles doing sport, you know. Apparently we shouldn’t be taking exercise that seriously?

– at the reception desk in CostCo, my husband is asked what is his profession. I am not asked.

– our neighbours, though lovely people, only ever ask me about my husband, or if we are together, only ask us things about him. What I do or think is never important enough even for chit-chat.

– if a man had been bleeding heavily and continuously for 50 days, I suspect his GP might be motivated to do more than simply prescribe him some iron tablets.