Tag Archives: Public space

Mae

Two days ago, my sister and I accompanied our mother to a doctor appointment. For context, I’m 21, I hate that I have to specify but I was wearing shorts and a tank top. We were already a bit late, mom wasn’t feeling great so she was a bit slower than usual, and we were holding her arms for support. We were out for a solid 10 minutes when a guy (probably in his late 30s-40) slowed his car next to us and praised us for taking care of her. He clearly wanted to start a conversation, and she is always really nice to people so she replied politely. The guy’s first red flag comment was: “when can I marry your daughter”, looking down at my uncovered legs. We just walked, and instead of dropping the subject, he actually parked his car nearby and approached us. He positioned himself in front of us, (maybe not so) subtely blocking the path. He only adressed my mom, asked where the family was from (mom side’s from Algeria, as he guessed). My sister and I let the conversation between them go for a minute or two before reminding my mom that we had to speed up (I’ll spare you the misoginistic view he shared about women “back home”, who should always tell their husbands where they are going, and if my mom still had a husband… stuff like that). Last thing he says to my mom when we press her to go: “yeah, okay, call me up when you want me to marry her”, looking down at my body like it was his, with a fucking disgusting laugh. My mom didn’t really understand, so she just smiled. I frowned and told him a simple “no”. He still smiled. We walked away. She was completely oblivious to the behaviour of this stranger, and actually thought he was quite nice, and I am worried because she gave him our last name. My sister was cursing under her breath, and when we got further away from the guy, she started ranting about how she wanted to insult him to his face because of the way he looked at me, etc. She gets angry easily, but to be honest, she never makes a fuss in front of the people she talks about. I’m guessing she’s nervous or scared to do so, just like me. I felt so powerless because I didn’t really stood up for myself ; I felt angry. I shut down in silence and it took a few hours for me to calm down. I’m angry at my mom, for being too easily trustful in complete strangers, and mostly at this fucking asshole who just so clearly wanted to bargain for me with her like I am some fucking object for his use. I hate it. I hate him. I curse him for being so comfortable in women’s oppression. I’m not a fucking piece of meat you gawk on, I wear shorts and tank tops because it’s fucking hot outside. And I shouldn’t have to explain myself. I shouldn’t have to cover up because disguting people that are fucking twice older than me enjoy making me uneased by their gaze. I’m angry. And I wanted to share this encounter so that, if you recognize yourself in these words, you can feel seen and heard and understood, like I want to feel seen and heard and understood. You’re never alone, sister, and hopefully, this will happen less and less until it never happens again. We may take small steps towards change, but we take steps nonetheless.

J

When I was 15 I was sitting at the beach with some friends playing guitar and singing with a group of older boys (18is) not far away, when two of them came running over, giggling and completely naked. He stood in front of me and told me to play a song again and proceeded to keep insisting until I complied and played it again even though I was extremely uncomfortable. I only played it because I wanted him to go away and didn’t want him to get angry or come too close to me or my friends. The other guy filmed the whole thing without our consent. After that they ran off laughing like it was the funniest prank they had ever pulled.

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.

Anonymous

I was coming home after seeing a play with a friend. For those interested, I was wearing jeans, a full sleeve top, a coat (it was November) a massive scarf. I got on the train and eventually there was no one on the carriage but for me and these two young teenage boys, clearly drunk. I automatically felt so panicky – drunk teenagers. One of the boys and went sat ahead and then faced me and started saying some very sexual things and it got very awkward. He stared and made comments the whole 25 min journey. I called my boyfriend to say can you pick me up and stayed on the phone to him but I was literally panicking the whole time. I was so scared he would do something – realistically I am strong enough to defend myself and I knew they were drunk and being stupid but the fear just crept in and I felt like I couldn’t move. He just wouldn’t stop! I kept ignoring him, with all the knife crime going on, that’s all I could think about, if I moved he would stab me (sounds ridiculous lol). We all got off at the same stop, and they were walking in front of me, stopping but the other guy apologised and said he’s drunk, go ahead so I ran up the stairs and I was so panicky I couldn’t find the exit and was just running like a madwoman until I found the exit and then I thought to tell the tube attendant but just couldn’t stop myself from running out. My boyfriend was thankfully outside the station so I ran into his car and just cried. I thought about reporting it but didn’t, what’s the point I thought? I thought I’m so stupid to be scared of some little boys, I could have gotten off earlier or change carriage or told them off but didn’t do anything. I felt so shit for weeks after because they were ‘boys/men’ and felt ‘put back into my place’. I wanted to go to the boys house and tell his mother but I didn’t do anything because what’s the point…what will that change? Why aren’t we teaching the men in our family about the crap we deal with?

Feminist 31000

Went camping with my boyfriend and his friends. We had a nice time but on the last night we had a campfire chat about politics, science, truth, algorithms etc. We were discussing feminism, and I had a great debate with this MRA (but he had an open mind) where he changed his mind at the end (woo!). But this other guy just wasn’t open to my ideas. He said “it’s just you who thinks this” and minimised and dismissed everything I said. Exasperated, I said “I was told this at university!!” – meaning that lots of people learn this and these theories were well established, but he interpreted it as “you ignorant tradie” and swore at me. I was getting pretty upset at this point because I was so angry that he wasn’t listening. I hate when you feel like crying because it makes me feel weak even though crying isn’t weak, it’s just an expression of frustration. This conversation taught me not to engage in a discussion with anyone who isn’t open-minded. Feminist theory should be taught in school.

Laura

So, I know this is something many women (particularly young women) have experience of. I live in Scotland and, more than once, I have been standing on the street or sitting in a public space and have been told by an older man (different men on each occasion…I think) to smile. In fact, the phrase of choice is: ‘cheer up lass, it might never happen’. In these circumstances, I have been neutral – maybe reading, in thought, or listening to music. This infuriates me because I know that men aren’t spoken to the same way. The mentality is that women are ‘prettier’ when they smile and, as women are only put on this planet for the pleasure of men, we should really always be smiling.

Anonymous

Exactly two years ago..I was at the club with my then boyfriend and his friends. It was a great night as everything was coming along and the drinks started kicking in..there was a girl that he was talking to in a flirty way but I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to cause a scene. As I was dancing with one of my closest friends..who was a girl btw. He turned to me and started digging his nails in my neck telling me that I was blowing kisses to another guy. Even though I was standing right next to him. It was all a lie. I was just dancing with my friend. I started bleeding. And he took my bag and started telling me to leave. Knowing very well he was my ride home and I didn’t have any cash on me. It was embarrassing. Because he was doing this in front of his friends. And because he knew he had the power to do so.. as a reaction for making my neck bleed with his nails..I got up. Took my bag. Slapped him. And left. I went outside. I called my friend crying. Telling her to send me money so I could go home. He followed me to a dark street. Found me. Hit me. Slapped me. Punched me. Kicked me. This whole time…he’s asking me why I’m making him do this to me. It’s like I asked for it. When his friend found us…he was trying to stop him. And he kept telling him to stop interfering in our business. Another stranger tried to help me..and he pushed her and almost hurt her as well. He put me forcefully in a cab home. And took me to his house and Everytime I was threatening to run and tell my dad…he’d run after me. What’s crazy about this whole thing is…he made it seem like it was my fault he did that to me. It’s like I deserved it.

K

I’m only 15, but I’m only now realising how many really creepy experiences I’ve actually had, thinking they were normal. This might be specific to my age group and where I live, but I’ll say it anyway. I’ve been taught to feel embarrassed for saying no to guys, and always feel bad when I stop a guy from doing something they want to do, and they get mad, as if I owe it to them. At parties I see, way too often, a guy wanting to kiss or do something with a girl, and the girl saying no at LEAST 10 times before she eventually gives up. (I’ve only experienced guys do this, but I assume it could go both ways, I just never see a guy feeling shame or embarrassment for rejecting a girl.) And people seem to never give this a second thought, just shrugging it off, “they were drunk”. Then I feel dumb for whining about it. Hold people accountable please, it’s not just “boys will be boys” 🙁

Ella

just for a bit of context, I’m 16 and live in a small town near (ish) london. So, just before lockdown I was going into the town to buy some flash cards and I walked past some teenage (14/15yr old) boys on bikes. As soon as I saw them I was dreading walking past them because I was scared of an incident happening, I was on my own and there were probably 5 or 6 boys. Anyway, I walked past them, head down, jaw set, determined to not get catcalled. As I walked past them I heard shouting, jeering ( you know, the usual stuff) and I was so fed up at that point that I stuck up my middle finger at them as I was walking. Then they shouted at me “not you!!” And laughed as I walked on. When I say I wanted the ground to swallow me up because I was so embarrassed I am not exaggerating. I felt so demeaned because essentially what my mind read into it was that I wasn’t even pretty enough to get catcalled. That was horrible enough but then these boys waited until I had stopped at a crossing and then cycled past me, making remarks about my breasts and laughing at me. The whole incident was just awful and made me feel small, powerless and just devoid of worth really.

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.