Tag Archives: Public space

I.V.

A few years ago I saw a homeless man on the street and offered to buy him food. He agreed and I bought him potato wedges. He was very thankful, but didn’t seem to speak my language, so we communicated with a mix of english words, words from my language that he understood and improvised signs. He asked if he could hug me and I said yes, I thought it was a sign of him being thankful. When he did, he did so for an awkwardly long timeand kissed me on the cheek without permission. I kind of froze and took a step back, he then gestured for me to follow him somewhere and went like “Can we …?” without ever completing the sentence. I shook my head serveral times, told him “No, sorry”, but he again tried to convince me. Lucky for me, we were surrounded by people, but it was still very creepy to me, and at some point I apologized and just left because his unfinished sentences and the way he looked at me while mumbling this made me SO uncomfortable.

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).

Cathleen

A year ago I went mountain biking with my mom when usually I would go with my dad. My mom and I love mountain biking and went to the same place that me and my dad go every week. My mom had to rent a bike so we went to go rent. There was a couple in front of us renting bikes and the employees didn’t question them and told them to have fun. When my mom was getting the mountain bike they kept on going over how it works over and over again like she didn’t know how to ride a bike. Even after my mom told the employees that she knew how to ride it and that it wasn’t her first time. They kept on questioning us saying are you sure that you guys don’t want to go to a restaurant and get your nails done. When we told them that we were just there to bike they said oh let me go get you guide and I think that you guys need a lesson. They said all this stuff like they thought because we were women that we couldn’t mountain bike, even though they had never seen us ride. They also never did this stuff to the men who came in to ride a bike or to the women who were with men. I was 13 then and was used to men always questioning me when it came to sports but I never really thought of it as sexism because it happened so much it toke me a year to realize why they said those things to us.

Jane

On the underground in London when I was in my early 20s. A man kept leering at me and looking at me up and down. He moved up the carriage when it emptied out a bit and started making sexually explicit remarks. I ignored him and tried to catch the eye of anyone on the train that might help me. Nope, not one person was going to assist me. Didn’t want to get involved. My stop came and I got off, he followed and was now shouting at me and trying to grab me and I kept saying loudly, leave me alone, I don’t know you. Again nobody helped. I ran up the stairs as quickly as I could. I knew the station well and slipped into a little sandwich bar where I’d always buy a coffee and the staff knew me. I ran to the back of the place and said I was being followed and would they hide me. They hid me round the counter (it was a tiny place). I saw the man outside looking for me, but he didn’t come in. The staff were lovely, they let me into their tiny staff room. Gave me a coffee and called my workplace, I was too distressed to call myself. They asked for a a colleague to come and get me. Unfortunately, work sent my boss who is also a sexist piece of shit and I never heard the last of how he ‘rescued’ me. I’ll always by grateful to those people in the coffee shop. Who knows what could have happened? This was all around 7:30am in crowded public place, broad daylight. I now think the man may have had mental health problems to be that I worried about his behaviour. This isn’t the only incident. I’ve been touched up on a bus, train and cat called more times than I care to remember. Now my poor daughter is getting the same vile treatment. I’ve taught her not to take it and to always call out abhorrent behaviour and she does. Having siblings she has also learned to think on her feet and can give clap back to any remarks. I’m so proud of her – although she shouldn’t need to, I’m still glad she can and will take no shit.

Kaitlin Wood

For all my life I have never wanted children and never will. If I do I will just adopt. But that still doesn’t stop people from denying me of getting my tubes tied. Even though I have heavy mensural bleeding, debilitating periods every month, and endometriosis. It’s awful being told that I don’t know what I want and that I have no control over my body. It’s awful.

Steve (59 from Arizona, USA

As a white Man, father and grandfather, I want to apologize. I am so sorry, for the unaware things I have said and done that were disrespectful to women. I also will forever to challenge myself and other men to own and repair things done or said toward woman, that hinder their safety and humanity. Thanks to all the sacred female energy that has loved and powered our culture forward. Thanks you for the courage to tell you story, my daughters and granddaughters(and sons) will be better off because it this.

Jasmine

I’m 14 and I was out with my friends but later on in the day two of the boys decided to slap my ass constantly and kicking it just laughing. Then they kept making me go through a railing and because i couldn’t fit they were calling me “thick” and no one said a thing. My best friend and another boy were there and nothing said. Later that day one of the boys messaged me saying he was proud of the “roundhouse slap he did on my ass”. I still feel horrible about it even though it’s been more than a year and people in my school just laughed it off. Only one person said to me that it was sexual assault out of loads of other people who didn’t care.

Victoria

One day I was walking to college when I noticed a group of boys following closely behind. Familiar with how boys act together, I started to speed up to create some distance between myself and the group, but it didn’t help. I could hear them talking about me in exaggerated voices with the intent to intimidate me. They were making sexual comments about my body and how my bum looked. One boy said it was because of what I was wearing and that he wouldn’t be saying the things if I was wearing anything else. I was wearing loose joggers. One boy starting talking about what he would do to me and making explicit sexual remarks. I was in floods of tears on the phone to a friend. I felt like I was being followed and there were no shops nearby for me to escape into. I just had to keep walking and take it. People walking past turned a blind eye to what was happening. I felt stupid for being so upset because no one else thought what had happened was bad. I was told it’s just part of being a girl, which I refuse to accept. People told me I should have said something back to them, which is unrealistic and much easier said than done. I was so angry but felt as if no one understood me. I will always speak up about these experiences because they will not oppress me. I wish strength to all other women who have experienced issues similar to this.

Violetta

I don’t think I realised how big this problem is until recently. I am 25 years old, I see myself as self-confident, smart, attractive, sexy and beautiful woman. In school I guess I didn’t feel it, because I didn’t feel my female power and confidence as much as I have it now. Few weeks ago I was walking back home from seeing my mum it was a day time 3-4pm and I was wearing short jeans skirt and t-shirt with top (which is totally normal outfit but not for me anymore), there were 2 men standing at the bench and I saw how one of them was staring at me. I tried to avoid his eyes because I hate situations like this and I try always wear headphones and pretend that I don’t hear all these comments which men say to me sometimes, especially when I am in skirt or in skinny jeans. So he grabbed my hand and tried to stop me, it was so disgusting. I wanted to vomit. Since when men decided that they have a right to touch ANYBODY ? Especially female and especially at the street. It was a daytime, kids were playing 10 meters away. The worst part is that I couldn’t even answered to him, I hated myself for silence. When I get back home I asked myself “Should I have try to fight with him or what? Why is this so normal”. The same day later I was walking to shop and car was beeping and stopped whilst I was walking. Why do they do it? I live in Moscow, its a busy city and because of constant rush and lack of time I used to wear very comfortable clothes no highheels, no dresses, rarely I wear skirts and when I do I already know that something like this can happen and it so sad that I became NORMAL. I bet if men were grabbed at the street or wolf whistled themselves they would had a better understanding of women. If I want to be beautiful somedays for myself, not for anyone else and wear not my usual jeans and sneakers but maybe shorts or skirt or dress why should I always have a fear that I might get touched, grabbed or that another car will stop and will try to “bring me wherever I need”. That isn’t the society I want to live in, it isn’t the place where I want my kids to grow up in future. I believe that we can do better. So after this accident I was really disappointed and I remembered all similar experiences I had. When I was around 18 yo I saw a man masturbating at the street during the day and people were just walking by, like no one saw him. Few times I was touched in the club and when I was younger I used to excuse these accidents thinking “this is club, its fine, maybe people are drunk there”. Last year, I was walking home and 5 years old boy slapped my ass. It was shocking and again I was paralysed, couldn’t properly react, few seconds later I said something to his mother but she didn’t say anything to him. It just a little boy, why would he did it? Was it because he watched it in the cartoons, the treatment to females? Or same thing happened in his house? When I was 20 I was grabbed by my hand and followed for few mins in Paris whilst I was travelling. Public transport is a separate issue. I am just sick of it but I dont want to wear always neutral clothes from now only because some men cannot control themselves or because they are so ignorant and pathetic. I don’t want to be scared every time I wear a shorts or short skirt/dress. But this fear still exist. I really hope this issue will gain more attention and in few years or in few decades there will be less women facing this everyday sexism.