I’m 15 years old. I was recently discussing my college(UK) applications with my mum and older sister(25yrs old). I want to go to a top college so I can get the support needed for me to get into a top university. This particular college gets up to a hundred oxbridge offers a year, on average. However logistically, it’s a pain in the arse for me to get there. My mum kept saying that it wasn’t essential for me to go to a top university, and she’s right. But it’s my dream. Then she says this: ‘that eventually, most girls go off to work, then get pregnant, and have to give up their careers. And that you should give up work if your husband wants you to.’ Now my mum is a housewife. But she isn’t happy. She’s an academic at heart. if my brother wanted to go to Oxford or Cambridge, she wouldn’t say to him that it isn’t worth it because he’ll be a father one day. My sister said nothing to agree or disagree with my mother on this. I’m still going to aim for Oxford or Cambridge.
As a 31 year old woman, I just tried to tell my Dad about some of the reproductive problems I have been experiencing over the last year. After finally seeing a specialist I thought it was time to share the problem, as after months of pain and years of issues it is looking like Endometriosis. He didn’t even turn down the TV to hear it or look at me, let alone offer sympathy. He simply asked, and have you been diagnosed? And was immediately dismissive when I explained the risk of making the condition worse that comes with keyhole surgery required to do this. And when I explained that the only offer of treatment is the birth control pill he again dismissively said ‘lots of women take that and they are fine.’ Women need to start speaking out about issues and side effects of the pill, as we desperately need to find other ways of treating Endometriosis. I would argue that we are still discouraged from openly discussing our reproductive health and subjects periods are still so stigmatised to the point that Fathers can’t even comfort their daughters. If we don’t speak about how unfair it still is that birth control is seen as a female responsibility or how awful the symptoms of the pill really are then society will not change. There will continue to be Dad’s who mansplain the pill to their 31 year old daughters, opinions based on no evidence in particular. It brought back a really vivid memory of a Saturday when I was about fourteen when he decided to have a go at me for staying home all day, I was having my period and I didn’t feel like leaving the house because it was so painful and heavy. He really became aggressive so I just told him that I had my period and to lay off, he went silent, no sympathy, no apology, because that would be him admitting he had done something wrong. I have been repairing the damage caused by his sexist attitude my entire life and can only really now recognise it defend myself when it occurs. Men with daughters need to try harder, no matter what age they are. Medicine needs to recognise that the pill is not a suitable long term treatment for a chronic illness. Endometriosis is as common as diabetes and because it actually makes women infertile, this is an issue society is facing as a whole, not just a ‘women’s problem’.
Our local school just renamed its ‘houses’ – guess how many were named for women? Not one! Well not quite… on challenging the decision I was informed that one house was actually named for a local woman that just happened to be from an influential local family… ok, so that will be why she wasn’t mention by name or any of her achievements noted!
My mum wasn’t happy when I told her I had bought two shirts from the men’s section and asked if I wanted to “become a lesbian now”.
This seems minor but it has really annoyed me. In maths class, we were discussing how weight was different on the moon. The teacher then said, girls, if you want to lose weight go to the moon. He was implying that girls all want to be thin and lose weight which is not the case. Also, some boys may want to lose weight etc
Today I was standing in line at COop and happened to be right next to the papers and magazines when one children’s magazine caught my eye. It said on the front “Stickers for boys”. My heart sank as I opened it up and found loads of GREAT stickers of dinosaurs, tools, traffic cones and cars. I can’t stand that children are prescribed their interests, abilities and careers in this way. I am a construction worker and would love a spanner sticker but it has taken me some years to know this.
My housemate (he’s 24 years old, I’m 32) – “Women should never shave any part of their heads, it’s a big turn off for a man. So if you do it, just so you know – I’ll hate it!” I did it – I fucking love it! : ) MY HEAD, MY HAIR He also added, “Women should never have tattoos on their arms or any part of their body that are obvious.” I have a tattoo on my wrist, my shoulder and my pelvis. And just for you, Adam – I’ll soon get a whole sleeve of tattoos, on MY BODY
I was on the bus to work a few months back when an argument erupted between the (female) bus driver and a (female) passenger due to the driver asking the passenger to move her mini-suitcase which was blocking the aisle. The passenger refused and started shouting abuse at the driver, using disgusting language. It got to the point where the driver stopped the bus and asked her to get off but she refused and continued to give a torrent of abuse so the driver called the police. We were waiting for the police to arrive and several passengers started talking to the passenger, asking her to apologise to the driver and saying that they were “just as bad as each other”. Eventually another bus pulled up behind us and as we got onto it the (male) bus driver said “oh she should have just ignored her and got on with her job”. Now I was annoyed as everybody else about the interruption to my journey but I completely supported the actions that the driver took. At the end of the day the driver shouldn’t have to put up with that level of abuse from a passenger while she is simply doing her job. Her colleague should have supported her, not told her to “get on with it”, likewise the other passengers should have been more sympathetic instead of getting annoyed that their journey was delayed. It shocks me how this abuse of a woman simply doing her job was normalised, the other passengers and the male bus driver seemed to think that she should just put up with the abuse and get on with it. I have worked in customer service before, and I would not have put up with that level of abuse. I’m now a criminal prosecutor and know that she had every right to call the police. It makes me wonder what would have happened had the passenger and driver been of different genders? If the abusive passenger had been a man would the same approach have been taken? Similarly if the driver had been a man I reckon the second driver would probably have backed him up, not said he should just “get on with it”.
My teacher was once making a point about sexism in society. He asked: “Who’s ever been discriminated about because of their gender?” I didn’t raise my hand and he asked me: “Did your dad never ask your brother to wash the car instead of you? Did you never have a pink room?” I’d never experienced that at all. My dad’s non-gender. He was the ‘house-husband’ while my mother was the ‘breadwinner’. If anything, he’s more feminine than masculine. He even wears dresses. My family has therefore always been a ‘be who you are’ family, not a social stereotype conforming one. I was raised to be myself, not a ‘girl’. When I told my teacher I’d had a pink room, he said: “There you go then, you’re a girl.” I’m a girl? I’m Catherine. I’m whoever I want to be. I had a pink room because when my brother moved into his own room when I was five, I chose to paint over the green with pink because it was pretty. My room’s now white and aqua because I like that colour. Never assume a person’s something when they’re not. That teacher knew and knows nothing about who I am, nor does he deserve to. He was trying to prove a point about stereotyping in society being wrong, but the way he treated me showed his ignorance.
Saw a male representative call large toy animatronic spiders “Very Boys” on a video of a toy fair. I find this kind of ironic considering that female spiders are usually larger than male spiders. Large Tegenaria (House Spider) females are usually what scare people indoors. Female spiders are usually larger because each has a large abdomen for producing eggs. It was clear that the man presenting the toy spiders thought that they would be suitable for “boys only”. I find it kind of sad (given that I am female and interested in spiders) that females are being stereotyped as being “Little Miss Muffett” while the boys are all deemed to be “Spider-man”. I have seen numerous scientific studies that claim that women are more afraid of spiders because the neurotoxins in poisonous ones could damage female reproductive organs. Having a natural fear for self-preservation is a fair point. This however, doesn’t explain how I trained myself to be calm around spiders and read up on which ones are poisonous. It also doesn’t explain the women on the internet who keep tarantulas as pets: one woman even let her spider climb right inside her mouth and out again! It also doesn’t explain the internet videos of petrified men who while shuddering and try to remove a large house spider from the ceiling. The truth is that poisonous spiders can cause men a world of hurt and damage to their reproductive organs also. So please don’t have a go at men who are afraid of spiders: human beings evolved to avoid neurotoxins and this includes a fear response. It is a cultural thing that men are encouraged to suppress their fears and women to express them. In short, everyone starts being somewhat afraid of spiders for bodily preservation reasons. Some people may start out being more afraid than others due to natural variation in the fear response. Tropical spiders that sometimes hitch a ride in bananas can bite and cause organ damage with neurotoxins. However, people can train themselves to not panic and learn about spiders with proper training. With spiders that are safe to handle, people can be trained to be calm and respectful towards the spiders. I remember watching one male professor of Arachnology on the TV. He talked about trap-door spiders and he explained how he managed his intense fear of arachnids by studying them. Everyone regardless of gender should be more educated about wildlife. I am very sad that I live in a house with arachnophobes: because of them I could never keep a tarantula as a pet. I would love to learn more about tarantulas and how to be safe around spiders. It is my dream to handle a tarantula (safely). It is sad that children’s wildlife education is being hampered by toy manufacturers who colour the animatronic butterflies pink “for girls” and call the large animatronic spiders “very boys”. In fact, it is the male butterflies that often have prettier (less dull) colours than female butterflies in real life! I feel lonely, because I was so touched by how a female garden spider would carefully make silken hammocks for her eggs. The spiderlings would hatch out in the springtime. People thought that as a female it was weird that I was interested in spiders. That was until they found a spider in the bath. I have “saved” numerous people at work, school and home by removing the “offending” spider. As a girl, I was fascinated by spiders and butterflies. There are men who study butterflies professionally, so butterflies aren’t just for girls toy companies! I miss “The Really Wild Show” on TV where the presenters taught children of all genders about spiders and butterflies.