When I was 18 I lived near a large German city. One summer day I spent going around town and since it was really hot weather, I wore a skirt that was about knee-length. I was in a book shop when this (older) guy asked me if I was of legal age (indicating that I looked young, I guess) and when I said I was, he asked me for coffee. I respectfully turned him down and he asked: Oh, but you are over 18, right? That encounter was strange, but not threatening. When I was going home, waiting on the platform, another guy stood close to me and sort of stared. I smiled, initially, before I realised he was lingering. So I moved to a different part of the platform and he followed me, raising his eyebrows at me like: Hi there!. So I left the platform and went back upstairs, missing my train and having to wait for the next one. I remember sitting on the train later, feeling disgusting for having worn a skirt on a hot summer day. I ran home from the station, adrenaline pumping.
At a professional conference—relevant because vendors could safely assume that attendees had their own sources of income—a representative of the New York post stopped me as I walked by his booth and asked if I wanted to subscribe. I gave some kind of polite no—maybe “not right now, thanks” or “I’ll have to think about it”—and the man nodded knowingly. “You have to check with your husband, huh?” An excellent way to lose any business I ever might have considered giving them.
Hello, I am a young 18 year old girl from Australia and I have a few things to say about everyday sexism that I have experienced. The first thing I think of when referring to this topic is the many times I could be walking down the street with either my sister or by myself to find some cars passing by honking or cat calling out to us. The worst time this had happened was when I was alone waiting for an early morning bus into work and a group of four young man loudly shouted out and called to me and then proceeded to drive quickly in the direction of shop bus station. Luckily they just drove around the parking area and didn’t disturb anymore than that. During school I had found sexism occured when people would perceive my love for biology as a weird thing for a girl, or the time I picked up a grasshopper to place it outside it was seen as a “boyish” thing to do. Another instance I have experienced is both in public and at home where people will actively insult or tease me for having both small breasts and butt; some even saying I have the chest of and butt of a boy. The only other form of sexism I have experienced is in every relationship I have has so far with a male has involved sexist insults and assumptions. Generally the male I have dated were surprised by my independant nature to the point of complaining to me about it or calling it a flaw. There has also been a common belief among them that because I am a girl that likes them sexual intimacy and sending nudes is something I am meant to do and they didn’t always listen to the word “No.” I have also had all my opinions ignored constantly and dismissed as being “over dramatic,” or “maybe she’s on her period,” or “her hormones must be acting up.” I have also had my ex’s parents try and shove the idea of children down my throat even when I may seem uncomfortable as I want to put my energy into my career. Usually when I tell them that they tell me how “different” I am from most girls who would dream of a family and kids from a young age unlike me. (sorry for the long post. As soon as I started to write I realized just how much sexism I have experienced and thought nothing of.)
I am sick and tired of being told that I have ‘time to change my mind’ about wanting a baby. I do not want children. I could not be any clearer on that. I have made that decision and it is the right one for me, and yet I am constantly told by men, women, medical professionals, even strangers, that one day I will change my mind, I’m only young, I’ll wake up one day and suddenly want one, my body clock will take over. Funnily enough male friends who have taken the same life decision aren’t faced with the same dismissal of their choices. They aren’t subjected to the same labels of ‘unnatural’ or ‘weird’ for deciding that children aren’t for them. I once challenged a doctor who took this tack with me. I asked if she would ask ‘are you sure?’ three times of someone who told her that they wanted a baby. Or if in that situation she would begin to offer advice and hand out leaflets, joining in the excitement. I then pointed out that someone who had a baby and later decided they didn’t want it was going to have regrets with far wider reaching consequences that someone like myself who might get to 80 and look back on my life with a wistful ‘what if….?’