Public space

Nicola

I am a lawyer married to a surgeon. My husband has cheated on me twice, has consistently lookEd at other women, has lied to me continually to cover up his infidelity and has been violent to me on three occasions. This morning and night before last and ironically just now in the middle of typing this, so the 3rd occasion in 2 days, my husband has told me to “calm down“ he has also said that to me previously on top of other belittling and disrespectful comments including, “you are a millstone around my neck”, F off frequently and saying “you are a shite”. I know that men in the modern world still tell women to “calm down” and think that that is okay, it is appalling and gaslighting behaviour. Everyday sexism exists on a really dangerously ingrained level to the extent of an embedded misogyny ignored and accepted by society.

Laura

Beeped at by car of young men coming towards me (on other side of the road) while riding my bike. Designed to put me off, make me jump, make me even more vulnerable. Could have caused me to fall off as I was looking over my shoulder checking for any overtaking cars at the time. Luckily I was fine; just pissed off!

Lauren

A man kept pushing his groin against me when I was on the bus. While hiking and climbing up a ladder, a man above me pulled out his phone and tried to take a photo down my shirt. While walking down the road, because I glared at a man that was trying stare at my bum, he spat at me. While getting out of an elevator with only men in, one man started barking at me and the other men supported him. When I told a man at work that I was in a relationship to get him to back off, he told me that because it was long distance I should still sleep with him. When I spoke to my HR manager about the sexual harassment that was occurring regularly, they informed me that an email would go out to everyone about it and it would be discussed with all the staff. No email was ever said, or if it was, no department discussed it with the workers. When I went to the gym as a minor, men would adjust themselves to better positions to watch me exercise.

anonymous

TW: assault One Halloween, my brothers decided to occupy the garage roof and drop plastic spiders onto people who came to the door for trick or treat. My role was to open the door, and offer the bucket of sweets (which my Mum had also filled with toy goo, to add to the Halloween vibe). It was a lovely evening, and I was thoroughly enjoying entertaining the families in our village. Then, 2 teen boys came to our door. I knew one of them, he was the year below me (I was 16/17). The other boy, wearing a full body (including face covering) latex suit, stepped into our porch, where I offered him the bucket. He went to put his hand in the bucket, and exclaimed when he realised it was full of goo. I’ve forgotten, possibly through choice, what he said next, but he stepped further into our porch. He then, reached out, and groped my breasts, on my front door step. I was stood in the safety of my own home, and a stranger shattered that feeling with 2 outreached hands. I froze, and after a while he started laughing and walked off. I remember catching eyes with the boy I knew, and the silence. As they walked off, I shut the front door, and told my brothers that I wasn’t going to answer the front door anymore. My mum asked if I was okay, and I cried explaining to her what happened. I know she text the boys mum but I have no idea if the conversation went any further. I felt so violated, in the confines of my own home, by a faceless stranger who I shall never know. Every year since I have found Halloween a stressful experience, and have never regained the confidence I used to hold in my own home. 6 months later, I was sexually assaulted again, by my at the time boyfriend. 1.5 yrs after the second assault, I was assaulted again, in a nightclub. The nightclub was by far the least traumatic, the behaviour although abhorrent, so normalised that I felt oddly safe in the comfort so many of my friends had experienced the same. I have often wondered which has affected me more, being assaulted by a stranger on the front door step of my home, or being assaulted by a boy who loved me in his home. I have battled for years with my feelings regarding the second assault- it took me a long term to realise it for what it was, and I still wonder whether he realised or realises that it was assault. On my way home from the scene of the assault, I was catcalled by 3 men in a van. This had a profound impact on me, as I could immediately recognise the wrong that is catcalling a girl (or anyone), but it took me years to completely recognise the wrong of the assault itself. The eerie unknown of the stranger on the doorstep has always caused me to feel anger, repulsion and fear, with no doubt in my mind of what it was. The fact my family were mere feet away but oblivious, the fact he knows what I look like but I will never know his face, the fact he had the confidence to do it in my home, and laugh at my expression of shock. I don’t think I will ever again be the immediately trusting woman I once was.

anonymous

Going to the village store aged 18 and having the local fishmonger (easily in his 70s) come over to me and leer ‘it’s okay for an old man like me to appreciate a pretty young girl like you, isn’t it?’ At the time I was mortified, shocked beyond belief and unsure how to respond, quickly running home. Looking back I wish I had stood up for myself. I often wonder how many other women and girls he has said similar things to.

Laura

This weekend I had to endure a conversation where a white man in his sixties declared that ‘most women like to be dominated’. He claimed that women generally like men to take charge, like men to order food for them when in restaurants, like men to make decisions on their behalf. He said that these activities were ‘men’s jobs’. Despite the group consisting of two men and three women, he did not stop his monologue to ask for input from the women in the group. When I challenged his views, he still did not stop to consider what he was saying. What made the situation so much more uncomfortable was that this man is a backbench parliamentarian.

Double standard

People look at me and my boyfriend weirdly all the time, because of the visible age difference (he’s 24 and I’m 34,I look younger than my age but he does too so you can still tell we’re not in the same age group). We are equal partners, we’re perfect for each other, it’s the best, most intimate, most honest, most loving relationship either of us has ever had. We’re actually engaged and living together, but despite knowing this lots of people keep referring to us as if we were just casually dating, and one actually asked when the wedding was going to be and when I said “next summer”, she said “good, you’ll have plenty of time to change your minds until then.” Lots of people ask unabashedly how old we are to satisfy their curiosities, and give us surprised looks when they find out I am actually in my mid-thirties. Not to mention all the girls his age that hit on him right in front of me. Now, if the genders were reversed? A 24-year-old young woman and a 34, or even 44-year-old man? Perfectly normal. Maybe at a 20-year age gap where the man is older people start thinking about it, but they still wouldn’t ask straight to someone’s face. But 10 years, where the man is older? Nobody looks at it as strange, nobody has doubts the relationship will fall apart. People see that combo (20sF, 30sM) as THE prototype for a perfect couple. But with us, everybody seems to look uneasy when they see us, as if this were totally inappropriate. Mostly I just laugh when someone asks, and I am proud to be where I am at this point in my life, so it doesn’t really affect me, but it kind of hurts to be honest. It is also a good indicator of where society’s collective views are at this time. There is room for improvement.

Mara

When I was 15 years old 6 of my friends went to a concert. For many, including myself, this was the first time. It was 311 and Sugar Ray… A few of us decided to leave our seats and make our way towards the stage where it was standing room only. It was exciting and loud. I’m not sure if I asked someone to pick me up to crowd surf or if someone offered but I remember thinking that would be so fun!!! Full of excitement and trust I was hoisted up and began my way moving through the air. Almost immediately I felt someone grab at my breasts and soon after someone had shoved their hand up my shorts and into my vagina. Mother fucking shit fuck fuck fuck… I managed to shimmy myself out of the hands and proceed to find my friends. I remember telling someone what happened and their response was that I should have known better. That was worse than the physical invasion. Fuck him fuck this shit it makes me furious and full of rage. – thank for for this website- thank you women- thanks for letting me put this here… I do r want it anymore

Aditya

I am from sangli, Maharashtra (India),now I am 19 years old BOY.When I was 11 years old that time I faced such abusive things and I still remember that and I never shared that abusive matter happened with me to anyone still today’s day . There was one man besides my home ,he asked me for coming with him to his farm.i didn’t think that it will happen with me ,he just told me that he needs help of me ,I went there with him and after sometime in the farm he started abusing me like he was trying to kiss me that was not normal,and he told me for shaking his penis it was so horrible . Still I can’t believe that happened with me This happens with me almost 3 or 4 times in one year by same person . Now this is the 1st platform that I am sharing my such things Now feeling little bit better 🙂

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.