On the train, man next to me joking with his friend about women being crap drivers, later says that he would like to see Karen Brady ‘with a rope around her neck’
I am 17 years old and I live in Australia. Just this morning on the bus to school, I looked out the window beside me where a car was driving next to us on the road. In the car was an old man, in his late 60s. His penis was right out and he was stroking it while looking into my bus full of school girls. I didn’t know what to do, I just kept staring, I couldn’t believe that this was actually happening. He made eye contact with me and then sped off. My little sister, who is only 11, was sitting next to me and thank God she hadn’t seen what I had seen.
Last weekend I waited to show my train ticket to an inspector; he was taking ages to check the tickets and I’d been holding it out for a while, waiting to return to my book; as he punched it he told me to ‘not look so worried and to cheer up love’. The guy standing next to me had been in the same situation, also holding out his ticket for a while waiting to go back to listening to his music and he wasn’t exactly smiling either – the inspector made no comments towards him. After I left the train and was walking across the bridge to the main station, a 50 – 60 year old male starting walking very closely alongside me, smirked at me and then said he was struggling with his bag. I looked down and saw he was carrying a small suitcase in one hand, and a tote/shopper bag in the other (similar to myself), and to all visual purposes he wasn’t struggling. He smirked again and said ‘come on love, help me, I’m stuggling here, come on sweetheart’. I gave him a look and walked on quickly, worried that perhaps he had been struggling in a sense that wasn’t visible, however I heard him start sniggering and jeering along with a man that had been walking with him that I hadn’t previously noticed. They made me feel small and dirty, but also ashamed, just in case he really had been struggling. I will never know what his full intentions were and it makes me a little sick to think of it…
Last year, on the way home from school I was making small talk with a boy on my bus. When we got to “hobbies” I mentioned that I did karate. His response was “Oh, nice… have you ever tried it for real though?” Bewildered, I asked what he meant. He replied “You know, like actually doing it. I mean, girls don’t do real karate. They do, like, an easier version that they can handle. You should try it out sometime, it’s pretty cool, my friend does it, he would know.” Looking back, I hate that I let him make me feel embarrassed and not good enough for something I love more than anything.
Two years ago I was on a tube home after performing in a musical with a fellow cast member who got off the stop before me. I got off at my stop, it was almost midnight and I suddenly felt this weird presence. I didn’t know what to do. Was I imagining it? Nope! A man was walking behind me. He pressed himself up against me on the escalator. He said ‘was that your boyfriend?’ I’m a pretty honest person so without thinking I said ‘no’ he said ‘you’re very beautiful’. Now after 24 years of being a woman I was well trained in how to deal with unwanted advances. The first thought you have… keep him calm. Don’t get him angry or you’ll get hurt. I said ‘Thank you very much, it was nice to meet you but I think I’d like to walk alone thanks’ He said ‘You’re welcome’ I sped up. He came after me. ‘But you’re very beautiful, do you have a boyfriend? I said ‘Look, thank you, That’s very nice of you to say but I’d like to be left alone if that’s okay” He got angry. ‘What’s your problem I’m trying to be nice, you don’t want to go out with me?’. Next tactic. My brother taught me if you meet a grizzly bear in the forest (Where he worked out in Canada) You make yourself as big as possible and shout. Make them think you’re dangerous too and they might just leave you alone. I shouted ‘I’ve told you I want to walk on my own now fuck off’ He gets in my face ‘You’re a fucking bitch’ and storms off. I freeze. Best to let him get ahead then I can get away. He’s well ahead so I start to walk again slowly… he walks back. ‘Why won’t you give me a chance, you’re really beautiful’ I try again… I’m trying not to cry because I’m. so. afraid. ‘I’ve told you I want to be alone, now go down the escalator and leave me alone’ … ‘No but come on you’re beautiful’ I lose it and cry ‘Fuck off down that escalator now’ He doesn’t move. ‘FUCK OFF’ I scream. He storms off. I’m unable to move, I just stand there wishing I had help. After a moment I step forward, very slowly. I step onto the escalator and as I go down I see him in the distance walking towards the other tube line. Finally, I think… I’m safe. All I had to do was leave the station. I turn to leave, I’m walking out and I feel a little funny so I turn around … he’s behind me. He leaves the station after me. I have no idea what to do! There’s a group of men in high visibility jackets. They work on the lines at night. I take a chance and I walk over. I’m trying not to cry…I’m not succeeding. ‘Hi, I’m trying to get home but this man won’t leave me alone.’ I point to him, he’s standing behind a wall watching me. Half of me hopes he’ll go back inside when he sees me talking to them. ‘I live just down the road, could you please walk with me… it’s just on this street just over there’ I point. ‘Please I’m really scared, he just wouldn’t leave me alone and now he’s followed me out’. They look at me in complete silent. I cry. Eventually one steps forward and says ‘I think you should talk to the tube staff’. He walks me towards the entrance and points to the window I need to knock on. The man follows us. I wanted that man to walk with me to the window so badly but he didn’t he just pointed and walked away. He knew the other man was still behind me, he said nothing to him. I knock on the window, a door opens and a man looks at me. I’m barely able to speak now. I say what I said to the other man. He doesn’t know what to do so he tells me to wait. The door closes. He comes back with a coat and says ‘okay lets walk you home’. The man who was following me walks straight up to us… I’m terrified. The tube man knows who he is so walks a little away from me to talk to him. I overhear the tube guy telling the man that he had missed his last tube home. He knew, he chose to miss it, he chose to follow me instead. We walk down the street home. I apologise the entire time saying ‘I’m sorry, I’m just afraid… I didn’t know what he’d do… he wouldn’t leave me alone… I’m so sorry you have to walk me… thank you for helping’ He says goodnight at the entrance to my building, I live on the ground floor. I open my door walk into my room and turn the light on. There is a glass door to the outside in my room. I look at the door and realise … if that guys followed us he knows where I am. I quickly switch off the light, run into the hall, sit on the floor and weep. I covered my mouth so my flatmates couldn’t hear as I heaved out tears in a crumpled ball on the floor in the dark. I have no idea how long I was there, eventually I crawled to my room in the dark, got into bed and cried myself to sleep.
A car beeped it’s horn at my friend and I while we were walking home. We’re 14.
I know as a white male I am not often on the receiving end of sexism except that it pains to see it happen to those I love far too often. I fought it ever since I was made aware of it. Since I am a father who shares parenting responsibilities equal however I have had multiple incidents of sexism against me.Fairly innocent is that I quite often am being asked if I have to babysit the day. Somewhat worse is most of the advertisement directed at parents is not directed at parents but at mums only. Dad advertisement is only about dads failing to do the caring aspect, or haveing fun activities with the kids or even being happy the kids are not arround. Worse was the women who told me in my face she doesn’t understand how my wife would trust me because she would never trust her husband because men should not be left alone with young children. Worst however was the time when my toddler had a public tantrum which I handled calmly, someone suggested they should call the police to check where the mother was because I clearly could not handle my child alone. Thankfully when she started to approach my child, my child started to cling to me crying daddy daddy daddy. Again Women have it worse but sexism affect us all…
A couple weeks ago I was taking public transport into downtown. During my 6 minute walk from my car to the transit center two separate guys slowed their vehicles to yell out at me, and another guy walking shouted, and whistled. At the station I purposely began a conversation with another female who was waiting for the bus to prevent unwanted attention. Once I arrived downtown I walked past a suited businessman in deep conversation with a coworker, and in the middle of his conversation shout out, ” well don’t you look fine” I kept walking and he continued, ” and I know you are someone who can take a compliment”. I was cat-called one more time before arriving at my destination and joining my date. While getting cat-called is pretty typical, what stood out this night was the amount in a short time I spent walking, and my realization that it was the second time I wore a jacket in summer weather purposely in attempt to prevent unwanted attention. And also that a man, presumably talking with a coworker, in a suit, pauses his conversation, yells to me, and the other guy is silent. I have concluded that I will wear what I want ( although my initial reaction was no more heals when I’m traveling alone). I dress modestly and stylishly as it is, and even if I didn’t I have realized it’s not on me to change how I dress.
Current Santander advert, depicting Jessica Ennis Hill as a stereotypical housewife figure, baking cakes. Seen at Glasgow Central station on billboard 4/8/17
My friend and I were about 22 and had just about started working in offices. We were in upmarket shopping area and had an afternoon of giggles, junk food and new outfits, and were on the street looking for public transport home. A car with a couple of middle-aged men swerved and stopped in front of us as we were laughing and chatting. They intruded into our space with obscene gestures and asked us what our rate would be for an evening and night. They ruined our day of girlish fun and my memory of that otherwise sunny day is forever tainted.