I work in a family-run campsite restaurant by the sea. The atmosphere is mostly relaxed, fun and neutral, with families enjoying their summer holidays together in a calm and respectful manner. But every so often we get a bad apple. There has been a group of families in the campsite for over a week. The women are kept, the men are lager louts, and the kids are rude and demanding. The men especially have been the worst. They choose to interact with me in a constant stream of sexual innuendo, often mentioning my appearance and sitting at the bar for hours on end staring at me and my collegues. They seem incapable of having a level, respestful conversation with any woman. Last night two of the men came to the bar, drunk, with their chidlren in tow. It was busy so there were lots of people around the bar, children, couples.. The men sat down and started talking to me about my hair, my eyes, trying to chat me up in front of my collegues and the other customers. It was so irrritating. Then, as my back was turned to do some till work, one of the men said to me (out of my earshot but audible to everyone else) “I’m going to f***k you.” My collegue told me about it 5 minutes later, just after they’d left, and I was so disgusted, so angry, so embarassed, that he could have said such a thing. I felt dirty. It was so degrading. The fact that he said it in front of his own children too makes it so much worse. And I felt threatened. What was this man actually capable of? I finish work every night in the early hours and I cycle home alone.. I was subject to verbal sexual abuse and bullying when I was a teenager and this has just made all the old feelings of shame and indignity come back. Verbal sexual abuse, or sexual remarks, should never be tolerated or brushed off as “banter”, never, never, never. This is the way we live in our society. How is that fair?

A, via email

I live in Newlyn, near Penzance in Cornwall. A pub in our village specialises in writing offensive “jokes” (sexist, racist, misogynist etc) on a blackboard fixed to the outside wall of the pub and therefore seen by everyone who walks past. This week’s “joke” is: Paddy asked his wife what she wanted for Christmas. She said “a black iPad” so he punched her!!! It’s shocking that anyone could find this funny or acceptable. A few weeks ago, the “joke” was: How do you stop your wife from staggering? Shoot her a couple more times. I find this utterly disturbing and a shocking indictment of the way women are thought about in 2016, when we think we’ve come so far.


Last summer, when I was 18, I undertook a work placement. On this work placement I was placed with a partner, who was a 31 year old man. I had no issues with this whatsoever, I like to see the best in people, I was there to learn about the business and as the uniform was cargo pants and a baggy polo top, I didn’t feel as though I would even be leading him on (and, as I write, I realise how sad it is that I had to worry about not leading him on…). Everything was OK until we were on our way to an office we had to go to. On the way to this office, we had to ascend several flights of stairs. I was walking up the stairs ahead of him and he decided to comment “I’ll try not to look at your arse as we go up”. As soon as he said that my skin felt on fire. I felt so uncomfortable but I felt like I couldn’t even say anything. It was horrible. By this point I’d learned that he had a young daughter. I thought he’d be more respectful to me than that. In the same placement, there was another man (we’ll call him guyB) who worked the same job as the guy I was partnered with (we’ll call him guyA). GuyA and I spent a lot of time in a van travelling to various places, and so guyA took a lot of calls in his van, which I was around to hear as he’d have them on loudspeaker. I hadn’t really interacted with guyB at all, as I was spending the majority of my time with guyA in this placement. Any conversation I had had with guyB were merely pleasantries in the morning and evening. Anyway, guyA took a call in the van one day, and guyB was at the other end of the phone. GuyA greeted guyB, and guyB responded “I’m alright, how’s you? How’s that bitch?” ‘That bitch’, being myself. I was shocked. I’d barely spoken to this man and he thought it was ok to call me such a derogatory term. I’d barely spoken to guyB too. GuyB also didn’t know that he was on loudspeaker at the time too so he thought that the exchange would only have been heard by himself and guyA. That made me even more uncomfortable as it made me paranoid about how else they’d be referring to me in their private conversations. Didn’t help that guyA laughed it off as “a bit of banter”.


There’s a boy who I sit next to in my English class who constantly tries to undo my bra strap and other things which make me feel very uncomfortable, but whenever I confront him he just says ‘why are you making a big deal out of it, it’s only banter?’