In the country where I live sexual harassment has become something that every man should someday to proof indeed that he is a man. In fact the first time I have been victim of it, I think I was 9 maybe 10 years old, I didn’t know how to react to it and what I was supposed to do, so I kept it to myself, afraid that if I ever go tell it to my parents I would be grounded or deprived of going out playing with my friends next to our house. The first time I have ever spoken about it to an adult I was 12 and I was walking with two members of my family (who are moms by the way) when a guy called me pretty, of course I know it isn’t a big deal, I mean he didn’t touch me or anything, but for the first time I had the courage to complain about it to an adult, guess what they said that night : “you should get used to it, it won’t be the last time you will hear that kind of thing”. I had actually started to believe that every time a guy sexually harassed me was a compliment and that I should be proud of it, until now. What I want to say is that I am sorry that we’ve come to a point where even sexual harassment has become a regular thing and is no longer considered as an act of disrespect to women. That’s is why we need further projects like this to spread awareness about the matter, so thank you so much for this initiative 🙏
After telling my boss about a string of several sexist, boderline racist and innapropriate “casual consversations” with an older male professor that shares my office twice a month, she shrugged it off by saying “oh he will never change his ways, better to avoid him”. So I now have in my diary the days he is scheduled to come in so I work from home on those days. I might have to change office in the next few months as well.
While I was at University, a colleague from my sponsor company, in a superior postion to me, tried to rape me while on a work trip. I said no, he didn’t hear me, I said this is a bad idea, he told me he couldn’t have kids, that it was fine, I said about his wife, he said it’s fine. I couldn’t get away but fortunately for me, my fight response kicked in, I punched him and swore and kicked and yelled and felt so angry and violated and how dare this person try to take something from me without my permission, I wanted to kill. I was very lucky, someone heard me yelling which meant the person had to leave and couldn’t do anything else. I had a fight response out of fight, flight, or freeze (you don’t get a choice it just happens). Both of us had been drinking when this happened, that doesn’t make it okay and it does not stop it from being attempted rape. I said no, they heard and didn’t care, continued acting for what they wanted anyway. When I talked to my friends about it, most of them told me to go to the police to get the bastard. Enough of my male engineering friends/ colleagues that I talked to said, what was I playing at, I could hurt this guy’s career; he could lose his job just because I couldn’t make my mind up; that I needed to get my act together; no one will believe you anyway; it’s your fault, stop being such a little bitch. Now, I know they were wrong. At the time having been immersed in the sexist, derogatory, backwards culture I believed at least some of what they said. I didn’t report it, I told very few people after that and I essentially had a year of battling between trying not to feel anything and trying not to kill myself because the anti-depressants I started taking damn near made me do it. I pulled my shit together, what the nice counsellor I saw several years after, as the mental health support in the UK is wank, told me is called post traumatic growth and have my docotorate and a successful career in STEM. My attempted rape was less than 5 years ago, I still experience sexist shit most days. Engineering is one of the worst sectors for it and if you’re not willing to keep your head down and let the toxic culture be, then prepare for it to be all the worse. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth fighting! I probably did experience sexism and microaggressions when I was at school, I seem to remember being called a dyke and fat and remarks about my large boobs, but it didn’t really bother me, because I was very lucky that my parents had raised me to believe that I was amazing and it was my body, my rules – no one else got to make me feel bad about it. Unfortunately, when I moved to University and then into work I had a very different experience. I was in a far less liberal part of the UK and most of the compliments I received were along the lines of: that’s a good set of tits to get you in here; lucky you’re not like us, cis white men are the new underprivileged; ah, you’re just like one of the lads really; to name a few. With this culture change I began to slip into habits that I would now say threw my own gender under the bus for the sake of belonging. I thought I really felt I belonged that I could be myself completely, until university or work socials happened and I experienced sexual harrassment multiple times, mainly in the form of bum pinching and groping, colleagues would try and get me to have sex with them and when I didn’t want to they’d try to persuade me and keep touching me, cornering me instead of letting me walk off. Through all of these experiences I began to believe what was spouted back by the group of male colleagues that I talked to, ah you had one too many; ah they had one too many; no harm done; nah it’s not weird, just blowing off steam; god, you’re slutty; lads lads lads. It just became part of the status quo. When at university the gropers included staff, at least one of whom had a wife and children. When I outline it like this it sounds obvious, in your face, but it wasn’t. It was insidious, subtle and daily and it was the culture that likely made that attemped rape possible, it definitely made me so unconfident in the system that I couldn’t report it until almost 2 years later. When I did, no one wanted to know.
Growing up in a Pakistani family, where does one start. For one the boys and men are treated like princes in the home, and with this comes a entrenched aura of entitlement throughout their pathetic lives. Some of the struggles a brown girl may face, constant slut shaming even for the most mundane and conservative articles of clothing, leading to having to leave the house wearing one thing and carrying clothes you actually want to wear in a spare bag. Being expected to constantly clean and cook at family gatherings, whilst the men bask in their own privilege picking their noses. Not being allowed to travel alone abroad, leaving to missed out on experiences and a narrow world view and experiences. Lack of bodily autonomy, god forbid a brown girl is sexually liberated or open minded to not marrying their cousin or the fucking village elder. The run of the mill racism and homophobia, a story of a family friend running away to marry a black man bringing shame and stigma. I for one have been chastised and even prohibited from speaking to many of my black friends. Colourism yes, racism lite as I call it, the darker the uglier and the fairer the pretty, what is beauty standards without rampant colonialism and self-loathing Being told you can’t get certain jobs and earn money for yourself because “it isn’t safe for young girls” Spending the best years of my life at home, because night is the domain of the man, forget having a social life outside of the family lexicon. A family member explaining how she was groped at a family funeral only to be asked “how were you standing though” Just casual dinnertime anti-antisemitism and talk of “jews taking over the world” So many more instances of double standards and patriarchy confined within a cesspit of religion and male hegemony, but i dont have all day. Final thoughts How does one reconcile western values with forced upon, antiquated notions of right and wrong When is one allowed to just be without cultural constraint or judgement
As a feminist I often find myself talking about the issue of rape and rape culture, and the argument that’s always put back at me (only by men) is that it’s also scary for a man if he is wrongly accused of sexual assault and it could “ruin an innocent persons life” and “some girls are psycho and could make up anything” blah blah blah. This argument is not invalid, as i know some cases where women do accuse innocent men of harassing or raping them when it’s not true, HOWEVER, this issue is DISPROPORTIONATE to the amount of women who ACTUALLY get harassed, assaulted or raped. Men “don’t believe” in rape culture simply because they’ve been conditioned to believe that it’s all just the woman’s fault and that their reputation is far more important than any other issue, Issues such as the attack on women’s bodies that is experienced universally EVERY DAY. Surely that’s an issue we should be talking about, rather than the VERY FEW incidents in which a man is falsely accused. And actually, even when a man is accused of rape and it’s true, the woman is often considered untrustworthy, and isn’t respected or listened to and it’s the man’s “good reputation” that is always put first! I’m so sick of this argument! If men really cared about rape culture then they would do something substantial instead of only care about themselves and their own reputations as men!
A friend of mine went to a film festival with her documentary. She took her boyfriend with her. Most of the other film makers were men and when they would start the conversation about the film she made they would approach her boyfriend as they automatically thought he was the author..
When older relatives in my family feel the need to comment on the tightness of my clothing, or that they think I’ve put weight on, but not the same apparently to my male relatives.
I’m an american living in China. I have been cat called in America and found it very upsetting in the past. Here in China however, I get attention constantly just for being white. There are not a lot of foreigners where I am and I get pointed at by little children, women, and men alike. This doesn’t bother me so much because I understand I’m very strange looking to them and probably a brand new experience. But the thing that does bother me is the Chinese men who follow me down the street yelling “pretty lady” in Mandarin and sometimes taking pictures of my body. If I was in America I feel like I could tell them off, report them, or take their pictures or something but here there is the issue of cultural sensitivity. I don’t want to get in trouble, I don’t want to be the “ugly American tourist”, and I don’t know enough Chinese to really say that much anyway. When I go out with my husband this never happens, but alone I feel like a piece of white meat.
At a major music festival there was a tent where it was clear I wasn’t allowed to enter because of my gender. I didn’t even try because they actively specified it wasn’t for us. As well as talks about things like power tools, they actually thought it’d be a good idea to discuss ‘diversity’ when they had excluded 50% of the attendees!
I am an American, and have lived and worked in the Czech Republic for 8 months, teaching ESL at a local private high school and Spanish in a local language school. There is an Easter tradition here where boys go to girls asking for eggs, and the girls get swatted with willow switches. Most of the time it’s like a mix of trick-or-treating and a game of tag, and no one gets seriously hurt. However, when it happened as I was teaching, the male principal led the boys charging and whooping and hollering into the classrooms. Two boys would grab girls out of their chairs yelling while a third would whip them with willow sticks five or six times. The girls were screaming and crying, shouting stop, stop. Having already informed my boss that I would not be participating when he told me to prepare my backside for the tradition, I was backed against the wall. My male students and my boss came at me next with their switches and hit the backs of my legs with them, even when I was saying in Czech, “no, stop that,” and thrusting my knees at their balls. I was told, “calm down, it’s just a tradition.” They left and went to another classroom, and as I could hear the girls screaming from other rooms, the girls in my classroom were crying, and saying 5 or 6 times is way too much.” I heard the guys coming back, so I braced my back against the doors, and told my students, “I won’t let them get to you.” The guys rammed the door so that I fell away from it, and as I caught my balance I was face to face with my boss, his willow switch high in the air. I screamed at him in Czech, “NO! THAT’S ENOUGH!” He spoke to me like I was a student, “calm down, it’s just a tradition!” I screamed back, “I don’t care, THAT’S ENOUGH.” The guys moved off awkwardly as my students applauded. 25 minutes later, I went to the bathroom to check my still-smarting legs, and passed my boss. Again speaking to me like a student, he asked me, “did you calm down yet?” He apologized to my husband (not to me) when my husband called him to check him on his barbarism (my amazing and supportive husband’s words), but accepted no blame or fault, defending himself and his actions. He later complained to a male colleague that I had ruined his Easter celebration, and he would not give up this Czech tradition. The most supportive thing that I’ve heard is that yes it’s a horrible tradition, but it’s not going to change, and you will just have to figure out how to work with other people whose culture and traditions are different than yours (in other words, suck it up in the name of multiculturalism). As if I, who has lived all over the U.S., Spain, and the Czech Republic, speaks 4 languages and have traveled to 20 countries, needed a lesson in cultural sensitivity. Were it a slight against me alone, I would have already quit and reported him, but as it is, I don’t want to leave my students in this environment where no one fights for them.