Tag Archives: Everyday sexism

Suzie

My yoga teacher is a man who I love and respect very much. While we have been on lockdown he has been running online classes, and at the end of the last class of the week we all have the option to meet after the class for a quick chat. One person- a woman- asked why she was having difficulty breathing in- the answer offered by my teacher was that woman have breasts and therefore the weight of this extra tissue may impact women’s ability to breath in. I immediately felt something shoot through my body- and started to protest. I’m a professional oboist and teacher and teach people to play- my clients have included ages from 7-83 all gender identities and body shapes and sizes. I have never encountered any gender difference in breathing problems. And I wanted to say that buy my connection went and I didn’t get the chance to speak. I was also really angry and I couldn’t tell why. I realised afterwards why I was so angry. It was because of the casual- unconscious sexism that was taking place in the group. Yet again- our female bodies were being used and weaponised against us and being evoked as a reason why the female body is considered as inferior to the male body. Our breasts were being evoked as the reason why we can’t breathe as well as men. And our bodies weaponised as the thing that limits us and holds us back- that literally stops our bodies from functioning as they ‘should’. I am still blown away by this sexism. I can’t believe it. And I’m very angry. I have written to my yoga teacher, and although I didn’t name his reason as sexism directly I phrased it differently. I think because I want to make him understand that there are bodies- and all bodies and identities are existing along a continuum. I think if I go in there guns blazing calling “SEXIST”- he won’t listen to the valuable points that I make in my email or consider that gender has nothing to do with breath or breathing ability. Plus I am not angry with him- but with the sexist culture that leads to this kind of thinking. I want to challenge his thinking in a different way and start to open his thinking . I have invited him to respond and I really hope I can start a conversation with him here on this. I include a segment here. “I was trying to say about breathing in the call and I want to say it here because I feel it’s important. In 20 years of teaching people oboe all ages and playing professionally (and internationally meeting people from different cultures) I have noticed no gender divide when it comes to the ease of the in breath or out breath. My clients have ranged from the youngest 7yrs to my oldest client who is 83 and everyone in between with all body shapes and sizes too including breast tissue shape and size of both male and female identifying clients. Some of my clients with the most extraordinary breathing capacity in the body in terms of intake of breath and power to control and manipulate that breath have also been clients with large amounts of breast tissue. Other who have had no breast tissue at all have struggled to intake their breath and I’ve had to work closely with them to re-educate their bodies and breathing system. Indeed this is one of the things that attracted me to learning to teach yoga is that it provides incredibly powerful tools for re-educating people in their breathwork and I can better support my oboe clients and other clients who are musicians in general as well as myself. Men have breast tissue too and for all people male or female their breast tissue is configured in a different way along a continuum. I have met men with enormous amounts of breast tissue – some of that has been formed and sculpted by hours in the gym- and others formed into what we might think of as a more ‘female’ formation, and what about people who are transgender or mid-reassignment or those who identify as non-gender binary? Clearly breast tissue will indeed play a role in breathing flow because the body is a dynamic and tensegrous system but this is not gender divided along easy clear cut lines. That has not been my experience at all. ” My teacher is an intelligent and deeply thinking and feeling wonderful person I know that I can have a conversation with him here. I know that he will not have considered the implications of his reasoning- this really is an example of an unconscious invalidation writ large. So for me it is about challenging that- and opening a dialogue. And while I can’t let that sexism go unchallenged without direct action, I also need to call it out as sexism here too and especially because it is they type of sexism that we women experience everyday and that can just slide by. Sadly we need to be vigilant so that we don’t let these things go by- and so we don’t allow sexist beliefs about out bodies to shape our lives. Sadly we need to do that work because the world is sexist and is against us. We need that vigilance so we can take care and spot it when it’s there and not be subject to it. That’s why I’ve written this post. It is possible that the woman in my yoga class may now be thinking consciously that maybe her breasts are the thing that stops her breathing in- and she can’t do anything about that. And even if she isn’t thinking about it- the message is there and the damage is done. And it’s sexist and not true. This is an example of how everyday sexism is extraordinarily damaging to us. To our health and wellbeing. And how it can happen without us even realising it in a gentle chat after a yoga class.

Beth

I called the Chairman of the company I work for to raise a concern about our financial position and solvency. He asked me I’d been talking to my husband about the situation work, and whether that had led to my concern. It’s depressing to know he doesn’t believe I can think for myself, and that despite being more qualified than my husband others will always think he knows more than me!

Caroline

I took pulled into a garage as my car was about to conk out. As I was trying to get the car key off the ring of keys, the 3 mechanics were laughing and one said to me, “don’t worry about getting the car key off, leave it on with the house key, as he (referring to one of the other mechanics) will then be able to come into your flat, up the stairs and stand over your bed doing heavy breathing”. The 3 of them thought it was really funny. I was so shocked, I froze. Then thought I can’t confront them as I can’t get away – my car wasn’t working – and I have to safely get out of here to get my kids in time from school. After getting the kids from school I returned and managed to get my car to another garage. A week later and I was still angry and upset, so I contacted the HQ for the garage. Amazing quick reply and then a male district manager called for 30 mins taking my complaint very seriously, and outlined the disciplinary actions he was going to take. After he investigated he discovered that this ‘line about leaving the house keys on’ is something the mechanics often say. Manager was very shocked. I said don’t sack them – get a copy of ‘Everyday Sexism’….

Kim Johnson

At home, my partner and his friends are in the garage gym, training. The talk is about the girls who go to the gym they also go to. Of one girl, who two of the guys like, I hear my partner joke to,them that they should share her. They then talk about how one of the girls wears clothes that she doesn’t have the figure for and she should swap with this other girl. The really sad part is they are all nice men….they don’t mean what they say. It kind of makes it worse.

Lucy Molloy

I was on a bus home alone late at night in South London and was on the phone to my boyfriend. I often call him when I’m in these circumstances as it makes me feel a bit safer. Whilst on the phone this random man said excuse me very loudly. I turned to him wondering what was wrong. He said ‘When you get off the phone you need to talk to me.’ I said ‘Do I? Why would that be?.’ He said ‘Because I have a nice face, and you have a nice face and we can talk about marriage and babies.’ This man was about 50. I’m 24. I would have loved to have told him to go fuck himself, but was worried in case he was getting off at the same stop as me and if he was going to follow me once I got off the bus. I turned back and started talking to my boyfriend on the phone again and very loudly joked about the ludicrous man old enough to be my father who wanted to marry me. I think the man felt a bit embarrassed after that and luckily he got off way before my stop. I’ve had a lot of similar experiences with men thinking their harassment is light hearted and ‘just a joke’ I find it so frustrating because for me nothing about these experiences are amusing. Being made to feel unsafe everywhere I go is not funny, it’s disgusting and it in infuriates me that there don’t seem to be any public awareness campaigns on public transport and no formal channels to report these instances of harassment and prosecute these individuals.

Aspyn

So today I decided to not listen to music on the way home from school and got comments on my body from about 5 boys from a local school. I know it happens everyday because I watch them look me up and down as I walk past them; my hands clenched in fists. A couple of boys stepped in front of me right as I was passing them to try and make me jump. I know it’s not right but I don’t ever feel as though I can stand up to them. I often think, ‘what would happen if I punched him for self defence?’ and then I realise that he could and would do much worse things back. Just the other day, I realised, my brother referred to a group of girls at his youth group as “goes” and it made me so uncomfortable. But even in my own house, I didn’t feel able to say anything to him. It makes me so angry that so many people like me have to experience this, and that even I, aged only 14, feel worried walking past a group of teenage boys younger than me because I know they might try and trip me up or whistle at me. I never know what to do, and what any of us can do unless something is said to the boys? Because I know at the moment that nobody is confident enough to say anything to that school because everyone considers it normal behaviour.

Johanna

Tonight I was groped in a pub. I was standing with a friend at a bar when a young drunk man approached me and told me he would like to ‘suck the face off me’. I ignored him. A couple of minutes later he grabbed my breast while his friend grabbed my ass. I told them to stop and leave me alone but they mocked me and kept doing it. I told my friend I had to leave and quickly moved away, one of them made obsence gestures at me while I was moving away. Not that what I was wearing matters but just to paint a picture, I was wearing a pair of ‘girlfriend’ jeans, wedges and a high necked blue and white striped M&S top. A male friend of the guys saw what happened and told my friend and she followed me. He told her that I look really upset and he was sorry for how his friends treated me. I found a quite spot in a different section of the pub and tried to Calm down so I wouldn’t cry. I felt frustrated, humiliated, angry but most of all powerless. I think worse than that is what happened later I told a female friend who is in the police force. she said to forget about it – it is what drunk men do and i was pretty so that kind of attention was expected. I am so angry at her for towing the ‘boys will be boys line’ for dismissing my feelings of powerlessness and vulnerability, for telling me to accept my looks means I should expect to be touch inappropriately and forget about it, for trying to make me feel like I am over reacting because two assholes felt entitled to grab my breast and ass for no other reason than they could most of all I am disappointed that she didn’t support me as a woman and her friend. What hope do we have in our quest to be treated as equals if women in the police force minimise groping as something drunk guys do rather than what it is which is sexual assault. Thank you for the forum to allow me rant I just needed someone to hear me say that gropping is sexual assault and that I was sexually harassed assaulted tonight and that is not ok.

Emily

In 2015 (I was 17 at the time) I was best friends with this boy. He and I were so close, on a brotherly sisterly type level. He had confessed his romantic feelings for me in the past, but I made it clear to him that I wanted to be strictly friends and that I considered him a brother. So the summer of 2015 we get this idea to have a sleepover. I’m not talkin anything sexual in any way shape or form, when we were planning this sleepover it sounded like a good old fashioned slumber party. Both of our parents approved of it since it was clear to them we were just really good friends. We spent the beginning of the night on a blow up mattress watching a movie. Before we went to sleep I made it clear to him that nothing was going to happen, that I didn’t want anything to happen, and that he was my friend and nothing more. He agreed with me. Later, after we had fallen asleep I felt him groping me. He put his hands down my shirt and started touching my chest. He also forced his way into my pants and fingered me. He kissed me. This all started while I was asleep, there was no consent. There was no chance to give consent as I was ASLEEP. He just started touching me as he pleased like it was completely normal to do that. Waking up to him touching me made me feel physically and mentally paralyzed, I was in shock. I was frozen, couldn’t do anything couldn’t say anything. I don’t remember falling asleep, but that morning I was so nauseous. When I told him I was nauseous at first he was “helping” me by supporting my back while I sat up, but minutes later HE STARTED FINGERING ME AGAIN LIKE HE HAD DONE THAT PREVIOUS NIGHT. JUST HELPED HIMSELF. That’s when I ran to the bathroom and puked. I’ve tried telling the police about it but they were biased as my abuser’s dad works for the police department in my town. The police officer I spoke with basically told me I was asking for it and should’ve been more careful about the situation I put myself in. -.- I know…absolutely revolting isn’t it