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Susan

I’m 65. I’ve always had my own opinions and interests. I’m smart and motivated in whatever I decide to take on. I’ve never been interested in being girlish or pretty. But, I identify fully as a sexual, creative, adventurous, and outspoken woman. My entire life I’ve been repressed, judged, put down, mocked, competed with, accused, marginalized, subtly invalidated, body-shamed by the men I’ve loved. Dad, Granddad, boyfriends, lovers, male co-workers, bosses, husband’s, and male friends. I’m convinced that men, even the caring men are damaged by a legacy of imbedded insecurity in their selves. An insecurity that revolves around male identity. They treat each other according to these norms of one-upping and macho competition. When a woman comes on the scene they seem to find her a convenient object of their projections: the bitch, witch, destroyer, or ridiculous ditz. I’m writing this now because the loving partner I live with has been exhibiting the same pattern. Now I’m old enough to not to internalize it or feel I need to correct myself or apologize or weep. I’m just so done.

J

My best friend met a guy at my birthday party, which I held with a guy friend of mine who had brought some of his Uni friends along and that guy was one of them. He was nice at first and texted me the next day to ask if I could give him my best friends number. She was fine with it so I did. They started texting and ended up going to a concert together since my friend wanted to go but didn’t know anyone else who liked the band except this guy. He slept over at her place and told her he liked her, but she didn’t like him back, so she told him in the most kind way possible that she thought he was a great guy, but that she just did not see him that way and she saw him as a friend but not more. Over the course of the next few months he increasingly spammed her with text messages to a point where she was completely overwhelmed and stressed and he did that even after she had told him several times to stop texting her as much and that she was not interested. Unfortunately, she had agreed to go to another concert with him right after the first one and they had already bought the tickets and she felt like it would be “mean” if she cancelled on him now. Fast forward another few months and I am visitin her for a long weekend which happens to be the weekend the concert with the guy is. He asked her if he could sleep over after the concert and since *again* she felt like it would be “mean” to say no and he lived a long way from the location she said yes. He then proceeds to not text her about any of the logistics and whether he needs to bring anything (this is important later) and shows up unnecessarily 3 hours before the concert starts. We meet him together at a restaurant and have dinner with him and he is already pissed that I am there even though my friend had told him I was visiting her and I was even so nice as to offer to take his stuff home with me so that he didnt have to take it to the concert. After they return he awkardly stands in the hallway between the guest bedroom and my friends bedroom and my friend asks him if he needs anything. Turns out he hadn’t brought a sleeping bag or anything like that and that while not knowing my friend had a guest room. So that dude basically assumed he would obviously just hook up with my friend and sleep in their bed with them and that after her telling him no 200 times! She was super relieved I was there because he kept asking if she was sure she did not want to sleep in the guest room with him -.- The next day he reveals that his parents would be able to pick him up on the next day because they would return from their vacation and he asks if it would be ok if he stayed another night……My friend is now pissed, but still too nice to say no. However, we had plans for the weekend to go hiking and that is *our* thing. So when he asked if he could come we said no -with all due respect, you did not mention you wanted to stay longer and this is the one weekend we can see eachother so we had planned stuff. He is angry about it, but oh well we leave for the day. In the evening we make dinner with all her roommates, he does not lift a finger. Before we go to bed he again corners my friend and asks her if she is very sure she does not want to sleep over in his room and presses on like he has some sort of right to it. She of course doesnt. The next day he leaves in the morning and then texts her that he felt like we treated him poorly and it was not cool that i was there blablabla. My friend tells him our point of view, that he disrupted our planned weekend, that it was only planned that he stayed for one night and that he was rude and overstepped etc. A day later he writes an endless apology to her and texts me basically sorry i came across as rude. We dont reply and he still kept texting her as if nothing had happened and everything was fine. Two months into that behaviour I finally convinced my friend to block his number. Again she felt like it would be *mean* to do that. But after I pointed out that he very clearly did not respect the boundaries she set and that he would probably keep doing this she realized there probably was no way around it and finally blocked him. She feels so much better now! Even though no non-consensual touching happened here, it is very disturbing to see a young man, who seems perfectly nice and liberal and even feminist at first glance, in our own extended friendship circle, displaying this sort of not taking no for an answer behaviour and constantly overstepping boundary after boundary. It really showed me that that attitude of “when women say no, they actually mean yes” is still very much alive and thriving today. in addition to that, after I told the friend I had my birthday party with about that guys behaviour he just kind of laughed it off and said yeah that guy just is a bit weird sometimes… Excuse me?!

Anon

Was playing a card game with a group of friends where everyone writes jokes anonymously and then everyone votes on it. The women in the group kept getting their jokes voted as the funniest and a couple guys in the group started getting agitated. Eventually we (women) we accused of conspiring with each other other and voting for each others jokes even tho everything was done anonymously and there was no way to know whose joke we were voting for. We jokingly brushed them off as sore losers and then were guilt tripped by some of the other members of the group for teasing them about their overreaction.

Jane

My boyfriend used to talk all the time about how much he respects women and then one day he would take some drugs and rape me and would never talk about it again because it “hurts him”.

Anonymous

When I was about ten me and my younger cousin were trying to climb a large wall. my cousin was only 6 at the time. I tried climbing but I couldn’t. After a while of trying, an 18 year old guy that I knew (I had seen him around a few times) offered to help. I wanted to decline but I was desperate to climb the wall so I agreed so he put his hand UNDERNEATH my butt and lifted me up. I didn’t think much about it but before I reached the top I ended up falling so when he was about to pick me up again, he put his hand IN my pants and groped my ass before pushing me up the wall. I didn’t say anything about it because it was embarrassing. After a few days I had often cried about it and I didn’t wanna tell my parents because I was scared they would shout at me for letting him pick me up. After a while I told my uncle and he sorted it out for me.

indi

I was talking with one of my male friends, a boy I have known since I was three. I am fourteen now. For some reasons one of them decided to bring up that women who had hair on any body part besides their head were ‘disgusting’ and that ‘no guy would ever want them.’ He continued to talk about how girls needed to shave their pubes, otherwise it was gross, and that hairy legs or armpits were just not right. Eventually I interrupted him and said ‘Well then, if its really gross, then why do not shave? Why is it that it is only gross on women?.’ He continued to splutter however, and said that no, guys did not have to shave their hair or their pubes, but in fact only women did. I looked at him straight in the eye then and said “Isn’t it my body? Shouldn’t I have a choice over whether I shave or not, instead of being forced to shave for male pleasure?” He then repeated his earlier points, complaining that women needed to shave, and this time I said “So am I an object? Do I just live for your pleasure? Or am I allowed to make my own decisions about my own body?” He stopped his rant here, and then made a comment about how annoying feminists were. I know for a fact his own mother is a feminist. Yet he does nothing but disrespect her, myself and girls everywhere. The double standard needs to end, for I am not just some hairless object for men to gaze upon whenever they wish.

S K

I am from India. This incident just happened with me. My dad being the head of his department in the company gets many perps such as I call and 5 guards would show up at our doorstep with the dogs if we want to play with them. So this was my first time seeing this. I was wearing my favorite night dress, a pink colored knee length dress with half sleeves.As they came I went to the door to play with the dogs. I was about to open the door that my father told me to go and change. I was frustrated af but being in an Indian family you are not supposed to say no to whatever your elders say. I have anger issues so I kicked my chair a few time scribbled stuff on paper. And then wore sweat pants and a t shirt. As I came out in frustration, I wispered “I is this ok or should I put on a burkha” (no offense to the muslims). As the words came out of my mouth my dad’s eyes were enraged. And he started yelling at me… The typical dialogues “ye nakhre mere saamne nai chalenge” “Mai jo bhi bol raha hu tumhare ache ke liye hi bol rah hu!” ” Mai jo bhi bol raha hu reasons ke wajah se bolta hu!” “Maine duniya tumse jyada dekhi hai” and me being the rebellious teenager started yelling back him saying ” Whatever your reasons may be , thay make me feel really shitty!” And many other stuff! … And still he didn’t listen to me and kept telling me if you want to live hear do as I say!!!! Mind you we were screaming at each other on the top of our lungs while the people of our company were still out side. I went inside my room banged the door and cried. I don’t want to live in such society. A society where my dad is allowed to wear shorts while I cannot even wear a knee length dress. A society where my character is judged according to the way i dress. A society where a girl can’t live the way she wants.

Patricia

Last year I was at my ex’s place, when we were still together. We were in bed and he was giving me a back massage. At some point, he thought it would be a good idea to penetrate me from behind without my consent. In that moment I froze completely and was not able to make a movement or say anything. When I finally became conscious of what was happening, my biggest worry was not my own integrity and dignity as a human being, but if it would be ok to tell him he was hurting me, as I was embarrassed to be as a prude, a “prick-teaser” or a spoilsport in the eyes of society. He carried on for about ten minutes, which felt like hours, when I finally found the strength to stop him. Then I realised that rape is not always done by a stranger, in the night and in a dark passage. Rape can happen with somebody you know, and right during or after a consented situation. Women should not feel embarrassed to say when they don’t want to do something or have something done to them, because of what we have learned in this patriarchal society.

Anonymous

When I was 12, my dad (who isn’t a creep at all and I love him very much despite this incident) would often kick everyone in my family on the bum. We’re all girls and we don’t really like it, at least I don’t, even though I know it’s just a joke. Be aware that it doesn’t hurt, it’s just annoying and kind of weird. I asked him to stop one time, and he said (I kid you not) “You’re my kid. You’re the fruit of my loins, I can touch you if I want.” Again, this was a joke, but it was still a really weird and kind of uncomfortable situation. I’m 13 now and he still kicks me sometimes…

V

When I was 15, I saw my GP has I had lost a tampon. The male GP vaginally examined me without offering a chaperone and without any gloves. 5 years that same GP refused to allow me to access the implant contraception, not based on medical reasons but because he thought I was irresponsible. When I was 17, my male driving instructor used to had my had, touch my thigh and kiss my hand. Told mum and dad which resulted in dad standing outside the house at the end of my lesson. However, when he called asking if I wanted to book another block of lessons, I told my parents that I didn’t want to speak to him but they made me speak to him. At Uni, a man smacked my bum so hard I cannot describe how painful it was. Another time, a man wanted to kiss me but I said no. When I turned around he trier to shoved me down the stairs. I have have my breasts touched, shoulders massaged and personal spaced invaded at work. I have been asked repeatedly out for dinner by a senior colleague to the point I avoided meetings with him. When my colleague told my boss and spoke to him about it, he refused to speak to me again. Had a doctor say he would cover a night shift if I left a rose for him in the on call room. I have been denied the opportunity to apply for a promotion at work due to being on maternity leave (it was advertised internally only).