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Abbie

My father calls me a ‘feminazi’ on a regular basis. He says that genetics research supports the view that women and men are inherently unequal in society. He calls any research that disproves his position ‘idiotic’ and ‘feminist nonsense’.

M

Around the time I had just turned 21, a group of friends(along with their friends that I wasn’t very familiar with) and I went out to the bars. When we came home we continued to hangout and drink. I was sitting on the couch next to one of my friends friends who was engaged. I didn’t know him very well but we had met a couple times before and he seemed nice. As everybody around us slowly went to sleep, we stayed up talking about random things. After about 30 minutes of just us talking, I said I was tired. He begged me to stay up and started to touch my feet/rub my legs. I pulled away and told him to stop because A. I had a boyfriend and wasn’t interested and B. He was engaged. He proceeded to grope me, reaching for my vagina and touching me multiple times as I struggled to get away from his arms that were pinning my legs down. I was supposed to be sleeping on the couch and he was supposed to be walking home because he lived down the street. I told him I was going to sleep and asked him to leave, he said he would and that he needed to use the bathroom. He was in the bathroom for awhile and I decided I didn’t feel comfortable sleeping on the couch by myself because of what happened so I was going to ask one of my girl friends if I could sleep with her for the night. I walked past the bathroom and the lights were off and the door was open so I was confused because I had never seen him leave the house. As I went to turn the bathroom light on and see what was going on, he grabbed me from behind and pulled me into one of the empty/vacant rooms that was directly across from the bathroom. It scared me so badly I couldn’t even muster out a scream, I just froze in terror, I couldn’t even find my voice. He moved his hand over my mouth and held my body against his with the other arm while shutting the door. At this point I was very drunk and very scared, in that moment I never felt more weak and helpless. He kept telling me “I can tell you want it by the way you were looking at me” “You were asking for it” over and over again. I felt his boner on my thigh the whole time. When he let his grip of my body go I stumbled forward and turned toward the door that was shut, but he was blocking it, all I could say was “Please” implying to please let me go. But that’s all that came out. In response, he said “My pleasure” as if I was begging him to do something sexually to me. He pulled his pants down and revealed himself as he grabbed my head and forced it down toward his penis. I mumbled “No, no, no, no” and struggled to push myself away from him but his grip was so strong, and the more he kept forcing my neck down the more I lost my balance and strength. I fell to my knees and he shoved his penis multiple times in my face but I refused to open my mouth. He then pushed me over onto my back on the floor and laid his body on top of me so I couldn’t move. He had one hand pinning my left arm and the other hand kept attempting to remove my pants all while shoving his penis into my crotch. I finally started yelling and he got scared somebody would come in and he got off of me and told me to stop. He told me to “Shut my pretty little mouth”. I stumbled for the door, this time he let me leave all the while saying things like “I know you still want it, I’ll be here when you’re ready”. I was able to get out and get to one of my very close guy friends sleeping on one of the other couches in the living room. I woke him up and told him what happened since it was his friend that did this to me and I thought he would be able to handle it and make the guy leave my friends house. He seemed like he was already awake as he sat up and said “Yeah I heard you guys, you know he’s engaged right?” implying that I helped him cheat. In disbelief I tried to help him understand that I tried to stop it from happening and it was not something I wanted. He finally understood the situation and kicked the guy out. In those first initial moments, my friend failed me. I’m 24 now. I’ve let this effect me negatively ever since. I always regretted things, and wondered why they happened to me. I questioned what I was wearing, and the way that I “looked” at him and even started to blame myself at times. I thought I wasn’t stern enough from the moment it started and he took it as me “playing hard to get”. Maybe my words weren’t serious enough, maybe I wasn’t loud enough when I said no, maybe my actions were giving him mixed signals somehow, maybe I didn’t remember the night correctly the next day. But no. The truth is, he wanted what he wanted and I was his victim. I did everything the way I should have, and I saved myself from something that could have been worse. I’m strong. You are all strong, whether the experience is big or small. Don’t question yourself or your self worth. You are more.

Nishi

There have been so many instances that I can’t even count them all. Since I was a child, whenever there are guests over at my parents place the women are inside cooking and the men are outside drinking alcohol. Since I was a child I was told by everyone to help my mother in the kitchen but that wasn’t told to my brother. Till date people including family tell me that I’m going to be hard for any guy to handle due to me being too “loud, opinionated and bossy”. I’m sure if I was a guy they’d say I was an “alpha male”. I’ve been told numerous times that if I don’t learn to cook what will I feed my husband. That with my behaviour my “in laws” will send me back home. When going put my brother and all guys I know are told to have fun but me and all the girls I know are told to be careful. I’m told that if I’m going out and someone follows me or harasses me or even gropes me I shouldnt fight back to hit them I should leave the place or scream fire. Because apparently fire is a bigger issue for people than a girl getting raped. The amount of times men have mansplained things to me and told me that I shouldn’t lift weight because girls don’t look good with muscles and that they should be “slim thic”. The amount of times I’ve been catcalled is unbelieveable. And the people that told me that I shouldn’t “overreact” when I’m cat called because its normal is even worse. I was first cat called and groped at the age of 6. The amount of times people have told me that I was cat called and groped because of my outfit and behaviour is too many to count. This so called behaviour is me laughing amd hugging guys. My parents say that I shouldn’t go out with guys alone to dark places such as the theater because men are apparently “dogs” and only want one thing from a girl and would take advantage of a girl at any moment. But these men dosent include my brother since”they raised him well”. I’m sure they did. He blatantly checks out and rates girls on the street. He takes screenshots of girls nudes and sends it on his freind group and saves it. He hooks up with random girls and then Dosent text them ever again. He slut shames girls but still hooks up with them but ya I’m sure my parents raised him well. I’ve had boys and men even family tell me that I would be more popular if I behaved like most girls do. My brother said and I quote “you’re not like how girls are supposed to be. So you’re unpopular. Girls are interested in fashion and make up. Girls dont scream like you do. And you overthink and make a big deal out of nothing.” This nothing might i add is sexism and racism. And there’s been so many creepy men staring and following me in public places. Then saying that I was asking for it. And the most used “compliments and phrases” teen girls my age get in my city are “thicc” “thot” “hot” “sexy” “send nudes” “naughty or nice” “lace or thong” and these are the least disrespectful ones. And when a girl declines these or calls them out apparently the girl was leading them on or is being a prude. If I have sexual relations I’m a slut but if I dont I’m a prude. If I drink I’m asking for it but if i dont I’m uptight. If I say yes then I’m easy but if I say no then I’m ugly anyways. And the worst part is that girls dont even recognize that this is sexist and not okay. They think its noraml and force themselves to drink and smoke and hook up and flirt and send nudes. Whether they want to or not because its what’s “in”. And god forbid I use the f word. Not F*ck but Feminist!!! I’ve had guys say that feminists are crazy because they demand more rights for women than men. I showed these people the online definition and yet they say that this definition is wrong and feminists are sexist. And when I’m brave they say I have balls. No! I don’t have balls! I have a vagina and I’m proud of it! I’m a feminist and I’m proud of it! I don’t need people that tell me that I should be more feminine to be likeable! I’m trained in 6 forms of martial arts and I lift weight yet my cousins and brothers who haven’t fought or gone to the gym a day in their life can apparently “beat me in a fight” just because I’m a girl. If I beat a guy in a fight then they were going easy on my anyways. In a room full of men I’m terrified. I know I can defend myself but what if they overpower me or the cops catch me for assaulting them when it was just self defense. I’m not drop dead gorgeous. I don’t have blond hair or blue eyes or that innocent girl look. I am naturally tan and I have black hair and black eyes and glasses. I have clear skin and I’m pretty short. Just 5’4 but i am lean not thin. Most people find my body attractive and when I’m cat called or groped its blamed on my body and my outfit. My outfit is usually slin Jeans and a tank top or sweat pants and a sweat shirt. I went for a concert and a guy asked for my snap to look cool in front of his friends in a very rude way. So I told him to F*ck off and showed him the finger. And he and his friends followed me for 20 minutes hoping I would get intimated so I simply went there slapped him for harassing me repeatedly and told him to get lost. People had the audacity to say that it was my fault for wearing a crop top to a crowded 40 degrees Celsius concert. And I’ve always been told that what kind of a girl can’t cook, what kind of a girl trains martial arts and lifts weight, what kind of a girl dosent wear make up everyday of her life, what kind of a girl dosent like wearing dresses all the time, what kind of a girl hits the person that harasses them for self defense, what kind of a girl is so picky with guys, what kind of a girl dosent show her insecurities on her sleeve, what kind of a girl eats all the junk food in the world. I’m told that I should learn to cook and clean not because it’s a life skill but because in the future if i get married. It dosent matter if me and the guy that I would marry both work. I’m the one that has to know how to cook and clean. Im told that I should learn to compromise because its always the women who have to compromise because that’s just how the world works. I should wear make up because girls look prettier with make up. I should not argue with people and or say my opinion. If a guy has that same opinion its valid and considered but not for me. I have been told to laugh at rape jokes when I called the person out on it. I’ve been sent to the year head for being “disrespectful” to a fellow class mate. My disrespectful behaviour was calling him out on his sexism and gender stereotypes. I’ve been told that even though I can lift a 100kgs or even more a guy is still stronger because he’s a guy.

Fighting Back

I was attending art lessons at some institute outside school . My art teacher started hugging and touching me everyday. I was uncomfortable but I was 6 so I didn’t know what to do. I stopped going to set lessons there after a while because I was afraid of him. I was 6. I was coming home from ballet classes and was right under my building. These 2 men made rude comments at me and grabbed me and started touching me on my breasts and all over me. I was wearing my ballet uniform. Not sure what it’s called. I ran home and felt disgusting. I cried. Since that day I would always wear a sweatshirt and sweatpants after leaving ballet and wouldnt leave my mum. I was 8. For the first time I was told that if i dont know how to cook what will i feed my husband. I was 8. The harassing increased as I grew older. I hated my body and screamt at god everyday for making me a girl with beasts and a vagina. I would try my best to conceal every part of me. I would wear lond sleeve shirts sweatshirts jackets and Jeans and never get close to a guy. I was 9. Everyday I was harassed or cat called and I didn’t know what to do. I started self harming because I hated my body and blamed my self for being cat called. I was 9. I completely closed myself off. All around me I got the message that being a girl is being weak. I saw that people said they if you cry you are a girl if you show pain you are a girl. My parents unknowingly always told me to be strong. To not cry to not feel pain. I always saw my brother and cousin brothers never crying and always being happy. No emotion other than that. They they conditioned to be men apparently. So I closed myself off. I wouldn’t cry I wouldn’t speak about my feeling I wouldn’t show any weakness or vulnerability. I got depressed. And continued self harm. Due to the harassment and sexism I stared acting like a “guy”. I didn’t wear make up I didnt wear dresses or heels I just wore shoes and jeans and sweatshirts. I was 10. My parents finally noticed my strange behaviour and found out about my self harm I was diagnosed with severe depression and bipolar disorder. I was 11. I liked a guy and he rejected me and embarrassed and bullied me in front of the entire school for 2 years or more. He rejected me because I wasn’t feminine and pretty enough. I was tan and had glasses and braces and I hated make up and dresses. I wore baggy clothes and played sports. I was better at sports than guys. His ego couldn’t take it and everyone casted me out for that. That year and 2 years after that were the worst. I was constantly catcalled and groped on the streets. I was not feminine enough and was told that no guy will ever tolerate my nonsense. I was too much of a “man” apparently because I would scream and shoot and be hyper. I would fight back to people in school. I was 12. On the vacation of 2018 I had enough. I was changing schools due to bullying. I stopped self harming and started to love and accept myself. I didn’t care what society said. I loved myself. With work and counselling and therapy I got over my depression and got my bipolar disorder under control. I stopped trying to please others and lived for me. I was 14. Now I live my life on my terms for myself. I love my tan skin, I love my glasses, I love the fact that I don’t take anyones bullying. I love that I can be hard and a leader when I need to but also soft and caring when I need to be. I still have problems expressing my feelings and trusting people due to me losing more than 23 friends in 4 years not I no longer chase people and beg them to be my friend. I no longer need male attention to feel valued. People whos opinion actually matters dont tell me that I should be more feminine or that I should take care of a guy or rely on a guy or that I should know how to cook ot clean for a guy. I’m not this perfect doll that society expects me to be. I train 4 different martial arts and gym and play sports but I still love science and studying and reading and poetry. I love horror movies and gory movies like purge or the hostel but I still love romance movies too. I still have crushes and flirt with guys I like but their rejection dosent affect my self esteem. When people harass or grope me on the street I no longer hate my body or run in fear I stand tall and brave and slap them or punch them and scream at their face that HARRASSMENT IS NOT OK!! I have insecurities everyone does but I no longer hate Myles for them. I focus on my positives.I’m not perfect and I dont care. I’m real. I no longer feel obligated to follow gender norms of society. I like art and sports. I like partying and studying. I can scream and shout and jump and do everything a girl sint supposed to without caring. Now when Someone tells me to learn to cook for a man or I need to change my attitude for to get a good guy or that I’m not feminine enough I simply tell them that I don’t need a man not now or in the future. If I get man it’ll be because i want him in my life not because i need him to take care of me or prove for me. I don’t feel obligated to send nudes or hook up. I don’t care if people call me a prude or a slut or a slag or a whore or a strumpet or anything. I’m now I want to be and that’s ok with me. I finally found people who love me for me. I am loud and dominant and hyper but I don’t care. Society won’t tell me how to behave just because I’m a girl. My vagina didn’t come with a terms and conditions manual when I came so I’m not gonna live by what society’s terms and conditions are. Now I call people out on their sexism be it towards men or women. I live my life on my terms. I’m 16.

Joe

I’m a 21 year old guy, and as I was reading Laura Bates’ book Misogynation today, my stepdad remarked: “I bet you’re looking forward to finishing that”. I said that It had been a very interesting read, but he called into question the reliability of the book because I had mentioned that Bates had compared the salary of male and female footballers. He then went on to imply that the gender pay gap doesn’t exist in the NHS (where he once worked) because 44% of NHS chief executives are women. Can’t he see the irony??

Petra

I think that if I ever get raped I would not be able to tell MY OWN MOTHER, because she would say that it was my fault for wearing indecent clothes or walking alone at night. She would often say that man cannot contain themselves. I think she would be sad with me and all that… but I can just imagine, while doing a rape kit in the hospital, she would say: oh why didn’t you listen to me.. somehow she would have ended up blaming me for the situation. And I have talked to her about my fears, and how she is to blame I am so afraid of living because of the dangers in the world and she also often says.. if you stay home, nothing bad will happen. I told her she is to blame im scared of ever using a taxi or walking home alone at evening, not even night. But she denies she would react that way. I know her well enough though.. what bothers me so much as well is also that me and my brother are both studying medicine, but he gets all the glory.. so does my other brother-a lawyer. My sister – veterinarian and myself, we are both younger, yet we are both most pushed to have children when I am 21 and my brothers in ther thirties..A lot of the times when we get text messages (a group one via imessage) it goes smth like this: MY AMAZING TOBY FUTURE DR. MED. PHD. ANESTESHIOLOGIST GOLDEN SON CHILD, MY OTHER WONDERFUL SON LAWYER DR. idk what.. AND MY TWO BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS. So what ? All we get is pretty ? And oh petra don’t eat too much, your boyfriend will leave you. Oh Petra if only you would have dressed better the boy wouldn’t have left. I cannot believe I was hearing these words from a fellow woman. I told her MULTIPLE times, that if a boy leaves me because I don’t wear mascara enough, I DO NOT NEED HIM….. like… BYE.. I’d rather be single my entire life than to have a man like that (as if I would ever even date a man of sorts). My brothers had it easier.. as a young teenager I would often ask my parents, how come Toby got to go out as a teenager and stay out late or sleep over at a friends place.. my parents’ response was always: because he is a boy. And I get why my parents are more cautious about their daughters, because the world is a mean place for a woman.. but what they don’t understand that by laying low, not going out, staying home, where nothing bad can happen, means you let the bad guys win. And even if something bad could have been avoided by me staying home, at least I will have lived and continue to do so.

Salma

when i told a cousin that i want to become a lawyer he said “that’s not easy for a girl” try becoming a teacher

Arianna

I was so frustrated about people’s fake perceptions of what feminism is and how so many people still don’t see women as just human beings that I started crying and my stepdad asked me what was wrong. I hesitated but eventually I told him the reason why and he said that men also discriminated against and people stereotype them. from that day forward he has started to make small sexist comments as if he does it on purpose, knowing it really hurts me. The other day he was talking about the first time his mother dove a car in the 70s and said that that is when feminism was ACTUALLY needed and looked straight at me as he said it. Equality is not something we have yet reached and he is so blinded by his privilege of being a man. I was honestly so disappointed and it made me feel helpless as though I had no power to ever change anything. Not even my mother really stood up for me it’s as if she is enslaved to him. I sometimes wish he would just go away.

Livy

I was talking about my dreams for college when my father said, “You don’t need to worry too much about that. You’re a pretty girl, you just find yourself a nice boy and you won’t have to work a day in your life.” I told him that I wanted a degree so that I could support myself, and that I have no intentions of marrying anybody just yet. “You’ll learn soon enough that you don’t like working.” He told me. “That’s why the men do it for you pretty ladies. You’ll like it better at home. Trust me, or better yet, ask your mother!” Then he went on to list all the things I could do at home if my husband worked, which include; cooking, cleaning, doing my makeup, etc. What am I supposed to do with that?