friends

Sara

Yesterday one of my closest male friends and I were reading a feminist magazine and he actually started explaining the concepts to me. I knew the concepts, and though I might not be as well read as he on feminist literature and philosophy, I acutely experience these things every day. I just really took issue with it. Later, this same friend made an offhand comment about how unfortunate it is that ugly women never get taken seriously in society (after explaining how he made out with a very problematic person because she was hot). I’m not the best looking woman, and I have dealt with that, so it stung. I’ve felt bad since.

Emma

My friend was called a prostitute by a classmate. He also talled her that «she should go get paid» and other things of the style… When I went to see an adult to discuss the situation, he didn’t do anything about it…. I don’t know what to do!!!

Sweetheart

When I was 13 years old a boy at my summer camp told me that no boy would ever want to kiss me because I was so ugly. The same day one of my friends told me I should give her my shirt because she’d look better in it any way because she had boobs. Both of these incidents made me feel so ashamed, I actually apologized to the boy before walking a way and later gave the girl my shirt.

Suffolk Lass

Whilst sitting outside in the smoking area at my local pub (with one female friend and one male friend, known from school days), we were joined by a group of three women. Summer Sunday drinking and a lovely evening combined, one of these women asked my friend “as a man, do you prefer a shaven or unshaven muff?”. My friend responded that if he were honest, he prefers shaven. A discussion ensued: pro’s and con’s, hygiene, media influence etc. After several minutes of good conversation/debate, we all agreed with each other that, at the end of the day, it’s the woman’s own choice what she does. Yet, after this fair and honest conclusion, my male friend and one of the three women who joined us continued: M: Exactly; it’s fine if a woman isn’t shaven, as long as it’s neat and trimmed, you know? I mean I do, I’d expect the same in return F: Yeah, that’s the same as me- I’ve been with my boyfriend for 11 years, and we have always maintained our pubes as neat and trimmed down. It’s just fair, isn’t it? M: Obviously it’s kinda gross when you can see pubes under a woman’s bikini on the beach an’ stuff. F: Yeah, I wouldn’t be able to go out looking like that- it’s embarrassing isn’t it, other women put in the work so why shouldn’t they? M: Yeah, apart from the older women though. You know, Mum’s of three and that kind of thing. F: Well yeah, they’ve pushed three babies out of there, they deserve… M:… They’ve worked hard, they deserve a break! (all laugh, fake or not) I never gave my opinion on matters after this, although we finished out cigarettes fairly swiftly and went back inside to play pool after this. I was shocked that my friends, and a group of young women who brought up such an interesting point in the first place, could so blindly fall into the traps which they had just refuted. I wish I could have had the courage to tell them my point and feelings at the time, however, just prior to the above conversation I heard one of the group of women respond to a question with “oh no, not that feminism stuff, no no, just asking about body hair”. This knocked my confidence in the group somewhat, feeling in the minority with my opinion, thus I write it down here for you to read.

Anon

So, my sister and I were at our friend Javi’s house and Sarah (my sister) and I agreed there was a general ambience that put us in a bad mood. Most of the friends that were there were boys, and we don’t see them as often as they see eachother. We were finally all talking and eating, having a good time, when this happened. (Please know, my friends are all really good people and didn’t mean it). Friend 1: what’s better than a rapist? A child rapist. What’s better than a child rapist? A local child rapist. (Everyone laughs) Me: rape jokes aren’t funny Friend 2: yes, they are Friend 3: guys, chill. You know how she is with women’s rights Friend 2 (I think): I know a joke, women’s rights Friend 1: women can do anything they want, but they don’t have any rights. Then, I got extremely angry and started listening to Troye Sivan because it helps. I was at that point where I couldn’t even speak, but I eventually told the Mamás, and then I stayed with them and we talked about quinceañeras. I do think I taught them a lesson, as they later apologized and their Moms are going to talk to them about it. They reduced the things I care about to jokes. And what worries me is, they’re all exceptional people and great friends. They didn’t realize how serious it was. I later told one of them that in a year, a month, the next day, I could be raped, and I mu=ight not feel safe telling them. Because it’s “Just a joke”.

Rebecca

Last night, one of my boyfriend’s friends, said to him in front of me, that had my boyfriend gone on holiday with him last month, then he’d have found him a different girl every night to sleep with. I told him to “f*** off” and he made me feel like I was overreacting. Why do some men feel it’s acceptable to treat and talk about women with such disrespect? That we should accept and expect to be cheated on? That we should accept male sexual entitlement? And he had the nerve to say that in front of me? I’m absolutely furious.

Magdalena

English is not my mothertongue but I’ll try my best The first time I realised that the world still is cruel to girls was when I was 13 years old, maybe 12. I was walking down the streets in a skirt and slightly heeled shoes. It wasn’t more than 2 or 3 centimeters, but they were my moms shoes and I loved them and their pretty purple colour. Then a man stopped next to me in a car. He asked: “excuse me?”. And since I thought he might be lost and needed help with directions, I went over to help. But his next sentence was: “You’re a very pretty lady, you…”. And I said: “thank you but I have to go home.” and walked away in a zone which was forbidden for cars and as soon as I was out of sight I started running. Even though he just said that, and didn’t touch me, it terrified me. His words and the way he looked at me was enough to make me cry on my way home. I was a kid. As soon as I saw my parents I told them about what happened and my dad said, that that’s the time that stuff like that start, and that I should be more careful from now on. My mother told me again, not to get in the car with strangers, no matter what he or she might say. That I am always allowed to say no, even or especially if I don’t have a reason why I want to say no. I promised myself to never ever say Yes if I don’t mean it, but still was afraid. What should I do, if a stranger or even someone I know doesn’t ask or doesn’t even try to hear my no. Despite the fact that I’ve promised to myself to never say yes if I didn’t mean it by heart, I have slept with my ex boyfriend, when I didn’t wanted to, because I felt like I had to, especially when the relationship started failing I thought that it was my fault, and if I wern’t able to keep the relationship as happy as it was at the beginning, it would be my duty to at least pleasure him physically. It hurted every single time because I couldn’t relax. I’ve also slept with a friend of mine, because I knew that he compared himself too much to a friend of him, that I sometimes casually hooked up with. We made jokes about it, and as soon as he broke up with his now ex girlfriend he really wanted me. I got called mean from another friend in this group of friends, for not sleeping with him. Then I actually got drunk and well, did it. Since then whenever he texted me he told me that he wanted me in his bed again. It was good sex, but the more he pushed me the less I wanted to be near him. I didn’t want to be touched by him. He stoped asking me about me, only wheter I wanted to stay over night. And once he even made me drunk on purpose, so that I would want or even need to stay over. After some time I told them that I wanted to stop having casual sex, because I wanted sex to mean something again. They didn’t really get it but were ok with it. But that friend touched me the whole day and whined about how badly he wanted sex with me because it was the closest to “making love” he has ever felt. How could he ever think that my body was his to use? These stories were about some of my personal experience, and I’m not sure how much they show that sexism is aweful or anything valid. They are more of a summery of some stupid decisions and thoughts I’ve made or had. But am I the weird one who had thoughts like that, or felt pressure without reason, or was it more? Also I’m normally a very strong, independent woman. If we assume that there are more people out there who have felt like me and even me who is supported by my family, other, better friends than I talked about before and actually know, that I have a right to reject and still have struggles to find a balance as soon as it comes down to sex, if I have struggles to say no, who doesn’t? I hope it’s easier for you.

Hannah

I found a post and shared it on my timeline on facebook, about women witnessing and protecting other women (strangers) in vulnerable situations. Just a basic, look out for your sisters post. It was quite heartfelt and reminded me of several times I have been accosted whilst vulnerable. A male friend of mine, who has previously denounced feminism as a way to divide the sexes and that we should care for all vulnerable people. GRAND. except, feminism is not about dividing, it is about existing, in fairness and the sad fact that we as women still have a long way to go to achieve this. And anyway my post was about vulnerable women, so why try and take the importance of that away,it’s just another way to undermine women and their struggles. This hurt, upset and angered me. But aside from his rude and harmful comments I had been thinking in regard to the post I had shared of all the times i had been placed in a vulnerable position by men, and myself and a friend sat down And actually listed them all out. And what I wrote down shocked and devastated me. These are all the examples and ages that I have been assaulted or accosted in my life (this post does have a point to end with!) 12. Legs felt up, trying to look under my bedsheets at me in my underwear 14. Sexually assaulted 14. Attempted sexual assault 15. Raped 15. Flashed in my school uniform 18. Woken up to being groped while asleep 18/19. Pressured for sex by my boyfriend 1+ year 22. Public sexual assault, reported to police, in the newspaper. Nothing came of it 24. Consistently ogled while getting changed, (walked in ‘by accident’ several times, by close male friend) 30. Followed home down a dark street, by a male on a tram who noticed me three stops before mine, had to hide behind a truck as he searched for me. Stayed awake in my house alone all night terrified. Ages 12-32 verbal sexual harrassment, leers, sexual comments My point is this. I MYSELF had not realised how utterly fucked up this is is. It’s only sitting down and looking at it in black and white that I begin to understand how bad it is when it comes to sexism and what is accepted by society or #everydaysexism, when someone I consider a friend of ten plus years who I thought was a decent person, can come on my post and belittle my experiences and my simple wish that women need to look out for other women in vulnerable or even everyday situations then how far have we still got to go? The answer is VERY FAR. But it starts with or continues with women, feminists and our allies speaking out about this, confronting bad attitudes and outright abuse, sharing our experiences and saying NO I will not stand for this. By educating our children and teaching consent, by calling out the media who use us as sex objects. We must continue the fight. I have blocked and deleted this person and told them in no uncertain terms what they did was wrong and I have no place for it in my life however long our history

Sarah

I have a friend who repeatedly made advances on me when I was in my 20s and he in his late 40s. I turned him down as nicely as I could and he kept pouting and sulking then coming back and trying again a few months later despite me saying no every time. He wrote a poem about me and insisted on reading it aloud to me and I was so embarrassed – it compared me to a kitten and sounded exactly like he was addressing a child. That was when I noticed he always speaks to male friends as equal adults but addresses female friends as if we were children (complete with the sort of “ooh!!!” sound effects you make when a child shows you something they’ve made). If a man challenges a point he makes, he will enjoy a healthy intellectual debate with him. If I do, or another female friend does, he pouts and responds defensively, throwing out his hands as if fending off an attack and saying “all right, all right!” I’ve never seen him do this with a man. If they tell him actually he’s wrong about something, he thinks about it and says something like, “Hmm, I suppose so. I was just thinking along the lines of…” whatever. Since then, our friendship has become a bit awkward because being around him still makes me feel uncomfortable. He repeatedly tries to hug me despite me telling him I’m not comfortable with it and he grabs and picks up my one year old daughter without asking her permission or mine, as if she were a toy. He takes what feels like an unhealthy interest in her comings and goings, counting the days until he will see her again. I know he just enjoys the company of children and perhaps wishes he had his own, but he won’t respect my boundaries around touching her or me, and I know from previous experience that he doesn’t take no for an answer. I’ve tried to talk to mutual friends about this because I really want things to stop being so awkward between us, but they have all criticised me for overreacting and scolded me for saying these things about “a good guy.” I’m sorry but really good guys will take no for an answer and do not respond in passive aggressive ways when someone says they are not romantically or sexually interested in them. Apart from that, yes he is generally a good person but my friends don’t seem to consider my experiences valid.

Gwen

I was talking to my friend today about how you really can’t win as a girl (he’s a guy) because if you wear makeup youre fake but if you dont youre lazy, if you have sex youre a slut but if you dont youre a prude, etc. and he gets it. He didn’t try to tell me to be quiet or anything and I really appreciate that he listens because some of my female friends think i take everything too seriously and would just laugh at me. People like that restore my faith in humanity.