The Everyday Sexism Project exists to catalogue instances of sexism experienced on a day to day basis. They might be serious or minor, outrageously offensive or so niggling and normalised that you don’t even feel able to protest. Say as much or as little as you like, use your real name or a pseudonym – it’s up to you. By sharing your story you’re showing the world that sexism does exist, it is faced by women everyday and it is a valid problem to discuss.

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K

I’m only 15, but I’m only now realising how many really creepy experiences I’ve actually had, thinking they were normal.

This might be specific to my age group and where I live, but I’ll say it anyway.

I’ve been taught to feel embarrassed for saying no to guys, and always feel bad when I stop a guy from doing something they want to do, and they get mad, as if I owe it to them.

At parties I see, way too often, a guy wanting to kiss or do something with a girl, and the girl saying no at LEAST 10 times before she eventually gives up. (I’ve only experienced guys do this, but I assume it could go both ways, I just never see a guy feeling shame or embarrassment for rejecting a girl.)

And people seem to never give this a second thought, just shrugging it off, “they were drunk”. Then I feel dumb for whining about it.

Hold people accountable please, it’s not just “boys will be boys” 🙁

M

Fifteen years ago I was working for the Government in my home country. I was tasked to brief and support a Member of Parliament at a public conference event. I attended the event with him, we chatted, I helped him with questions and his speaking points, it seemed quite normal and professional. I’d done similar things before. It was an evening event. At the end, he asked which area of the city I was living in, and when I told him, he said he was staying quite near, could I give him a lift as far as my house and he would make is own way from there – it would save him calling one of the Parliamentary drivers out. That felt a bit strange, but I agreed. I was eager to please and as a well-trained civil servant, sure that my job was to support the elected representatives, whatever they needed, those busy important people. And I was shy and yes, naive. When we arrived at my house he said it was quite late, he would call a taxi rather than walk, could he wait inside? When we were inside, he started to stand very close to me, and to touch my arms and then he put his arm around my waist. I was scared. I couldn’t understand how I’d let it happen that a strange man was in my home late at night touching me. I didn’t want him to touch me, but it was me who had driven him here, me who had agreed to let him wait inside. So I must have invited it, yes? He must have thought he was playing a game we were both in on, when actually only he knew the rules. He was stroking me and kissing me, and pressed me onto the sofa. He asked could he touch me, I didn’t say yes but I didn’t say no – my voice had vanished with shock and fear. He touched me intimately, I remember being stiff with anxiety and discomfort but willing myself not to flinch because that might make it worse, maybe he’d think I liked it and violate me completely. Eventually, he said it was late and he had an early meeting. He called a taxi and it came quickly. I can’t remember what happened while we were waiting for it, but he left. I went to the shower and washed and washed but I couldn’t feel clean. I didn’t sleep that night. I didn’t know what to do or think only that I never in a lifetime thought something like that would happen, and how awful it felt. I never reported it. I was so ashamed, I thought it was my fault, and I knew too well that politicians are dirty fighters and that the press love a scandal – I didn’t want to get dragged through that. At different times over the years since then I’ve tried to resolve that experience, make sense of it. but on some level the hurt and shame go on. I’ve come to understand it wasn’t my fault. That man abused his position of authority, he abused my innocence, and what he did was wrong. It was an assault. That man scarred me in a way that has never quite healed. I wish he’d had to pay for it. But he didn’t.

Ella

just for a bit of context, I’m 16 and live in a small town near (ish) london. So, just before lockdown I was going into the town to buy some flash cards and I walked past some teenage (14/15yr old) boys on bikes. As soon as I saw them I was dreading walking past them because I was scared of an incident happening, I was on my own and there were probably 5 or 6 boys. Anyway, I walked past them, head down, jaw set, determined to not get catcalled. As I walked past them I heard shouting, jeering ( you know, the usual stuff) and I was so fed up at that point that I stuck up my middle finger at them as I was walking. Then they shouted at me “not you!!” And laughed as I walked on. When I say I wanted the ground to swallow me up because I was so embarrassed I am not exaggerating. I felt so demeaned because essentially what my mind read into it was that I wasn’t even pretty enough to get catcalled. That was horrible enough but then these boys waited until I had stopped at a crossing and then cycled past me, making remarks about my breasts and laughing at me. The whole incident was just awful and made me feel small, powerless and just devoid of worth really.

Daphne

A year ago, when I was thirteen, I was part of an advanced math class with students of different ages. I had noticed an older boy glancing at me throughout the year, but didn’t really think anything of it. One day, our class attended an assembly. While we were waiting outside the gym, we put our backpacks down against the wall and lined up. The boy stood behind me in line. I felt intimidated. He was very close to me. He then ‘tripped’ over one of the backpacks and caught himself by holding tightly onto my waist with both of his hands.He stayed there for several seconds too long, just holding onto my waist, and then went back to standing close behind me. I couldn’t move. I was frozen, shocked, and ashamed. Inside the gym, his friends all sat behind me whispering and laughing. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. My being felt violated. How was grabbing my waist normal? I cried most nights afterwards, and in class, I avoided him as much as possible.In the halls, his friends smirked at me. I felt like nothing, like I didn’t matter and I was just a toy for dumb boys to play with. I wish I had told an adult about it. But, I was afraid no one would take me seriously and nothing would be done about it. He was an older student who all the teachers liked. It’s been a year and I still think and cry about it. I still shrivel up in disgust by the fact that he thought it was okay to touch me.

Patricia

Last year I was at my ex’s place, when we were still together. We were in bed and he was giving me a back massage. At some point, he thought it would be a good idea to penetrate me from behind without my consent. In that moment I froze completely and was not able to make a movement or say anything. When I finally became conscious of what was happening, my biggest worry was not my own integrity and dignity as a human being, but if it would be ok to tell him he was hurting me, as I was embarrassed to be as a prude, a “prick-teaser” or a spoilsport in the eyes of society. He carried on for about ten minutes, which felt like hours, when I finally found the strength to stop him.
Then I realised that rape is not always done by a stranger, in the night and in a dark passage. Rape can happen with somebody you know, and right during or after a consented situation.
Women should not feel embarrassed to say when they don’t want to do something or have something done to them, because of what we have learned in this patriarchal society.

S K

I am from India.
This incident just happened with me. My dad being the head of his department in the company gets many perps such as I call and 5 guards would show up at our doorstep with the dogs if we want to play with them. So this was my first time seeing this. I was wearing my favorite night dress, a pink colored knee length dress with half sleeves.As they came I went to the door to play with the dogs. I was about to open the door that my father told me to go and change. I was frustrated af but being in an Indian family you are not supposed to say no to whatever your elders say. I have anger issues so I kicked my chair a few time scribbled stuff on paper. And then wore sweat pants and a t shirt. As I came out in frustration, I wispered “I is this ok or should I put on a burkha” (no offense to the muslims). As the words came out of my mouth my dad’s eyes were enraged. And he started yelling at me… The typical dialogues “ye nakhre mere saamne nai chalenge” “Mai jo bhi bol raha hu tumhare ache ke liye hi bol rah hu!” ” Mai jo bhi bol raha hu reasons ke wajah se bolta hu!” “Maine duniya tumse jyada dekhi hai” and me being the rebellious teenager started yelling back him saying ” Whatever your reasons may be , thay make me feel really shitty!” And many other stuff! …

And still he didn’t listen to me and kept telling me if you want to live hear do as I say!!!!
Mind you we were screaming at each other on the top of our lungs while the people of our company were still out side. I went inside my room banged the door and cried.

I don’t want to live in such society.
A society where my dad is allowed to wear shorts while I cannot even wear a knee length dress.
A society where my character is judged according to the way i dress.
A society where a girl can’t live the way she wants.

Anonymous

When I was 12, my dad (who isn’t a creep at all and I love him very much despite this incident) would often kick everyone in my family on the bum. We’re all girls and we don’t really like it, at least I don’t, even though I know it’s just a joke. Be aware that it doesn’t hurt, it’s just annoying and kind of weird. I asked him to stop one time, and he said (I kid you not) “You’re my kid. You’re the fruit of my loins, I can touch you if I want.” Again, this was a joke, but it was still a really weird and kind of uncomfortable situation. I’m 13 now and he still kicks me sometimes…

I.V.

A few years ago I saw a homeless man on the street and offered to buy him food. He agreed and I bought him potato wedges. He was very thankful, but didn’t seem to speak my language, so we communicated with a mix of english words, words from my language that he understood and improvised signs. He asked if he could hug me and I said yes, I thought it was a sign of him being thankful. When he did, he did so for an awkwardly long timeand kissed me on the cheek without permission. I kind of froze and took a step back, he then gestured for me to follow him somewhere and went like “Can we …?” without ever completing the sentence. I shook my head serveral times, told him “No, sorry”, but he again tried to convince me. Lucky for me, we were surrounded by people, but it was still very creepy to me, and at some point I apologized and just left because his unfinished sentences and the way he looked at me while mumbling this made me SO uncomfortable.

I.V.

On several occasions, cis guys have sent me dick pics on social media without asking for and getting my consent first. Sometimes after flirting, sometimes after a bit of smalltalk, sometimes as their very first message even.