School

Rose

I was assaulted on a school trip. I shouted at the boy to stop. His friends all laughed. My friends said nothing. I told my school and they never did anything. I felt humiliated and ignored. I struggled for a long time afterwards to walk in public spaces and would het jumpy when I saw men walking behind me. I was wearing my favourite top when it happened and now I think of him every time I wear it. I refuse to get rid of it because that feels like letting him win. I will wear my short skirt. I will wear my low cut top. I will shout despite the laughter. I will stand up for other women. I will be brave.

Anon

When boys or men were playing video games at home, they never invited me to join in with them. Was this because I am female? A male cousin would bring his console round our house when he came to visit and would play it for hours on end, never offering any female relatives a turn. I however as a girl was expected to be polite and fetch him biscuits and orange squash. When I had a boyfriend, he never offered to have me join in two player mode on his video game console, but I was just expected to sit there and he would ask me to cheer him on. It was boring and depressing for me even though he was thoroughly enjoying himself. He didn’t really agree with women or girls playing football, so I guess that is why he didn’t let me play the opposing team on his football video game? I don’t play video games online because I am afraid of being harassed as a woman so a play games offline. Also I don’t have much time to play games because I have to be ready at a moment’s notice to help my disabled relatives. There seem to be games and pastimes that some men cordon off for their own. Football is an example of this. On the school field during playtimes, the boys would never ever invite the girls to play football with them. I had an amazing acquaintance at Primary School who loved football. While the boys were playing, she would rush into the middle of them and perform spectacular tackles and run off with the ball! The boys were so impressed with her gumption that they made her Captain of the School team. Nearly all of the goals for that season were scored by her. So basically in order to be accepted as a football player on the playground, a girl would literally have to be the best on the school team. Any boy with mediocre ability would be accepted to play football on the playground when he was invited. If you were a girl, you would literally have to fight your way onto the field and prove your abilities because no boy would ever ask if you wanted to play! If you were a boy, you were expected to play football or else you’d get called a “girl” and beaten up. So that was how a girl at my Primary School became football team Captain and the only girl on the team. There was no girls’ football team in my Primary School because the girls were taught to play netball and the boys were taught to play football in PE.

Delphine

I am lucky to be born in a Western European country where men and women are equal. I have a loving family, who support me in everything I do and try to achieve. I grew up believing sexism is awful, but could never happen to me. However, watching a TED-talk about this organisation changed my views. I started digging into my own past and detected some events I would like to share with you. I chose to share with you two events which happened to me as a teenager. This events are just words, but they were said to me by teachers in highschool. I chose these events because I believe they show how deep rooted the gender difference is in any of us, also teachers who are educated to handle teenagers and are aware of these problems. – At the age of 16 I was a shy, not very popular nerdy person. I noticed some of my male classmates making fun of me behind my back, just loud enough for me to understand them. They were joking about my body, my grades, my way of behaving, etc. Since this was something happening quite often it caused me to feel even more insecure. I listened to the advice of a friend and went to a teacher to tell him about this, hoping he would be able to help me. When I told this teacher about this behaviour he softly laughed and said “But they are teenage boys, eventually they will grow out of this. I am sure they do not mean to hurt you”. Next, I walked away and tried to forget this ever happened. Looking back at this, I now realise that this event caused me to keep silent even more and additionally gave me the message that boys are allowed to behave in a wrong way and get away with it, only because they are male. – Two years later, I was 18 and in my last year of highschool. I was working hard because I had a dream of going to univeristy and becoming a scientist. However in one of my biology classes, the teacher said to me and all my classmates “Because in prehistoric times men used to hunt and think logically, and women used to raise kids, we now still notice that women are biologically build to be better at languages and men are better at science and math”. I could not believe my ears, but all my classmates nodded yes so I did the same. Could this be true? Would I never becoming a scientist no matter how hard I work just because I am a woman? Maybe I should give up this dream… All these thoughts were running through my mind at this time. Luckily I was stubborn and told by my parents to not listen to this stupid way of thinking. After graduating highschool I went to university. In a few months I will graduate and be the proud owner of a master degree in chemistry. As a soon-to-be scientist I now know for sure that the brain of both men and women is capable of excelling in math and science. Both men and women can be very talented in languages. Even in prehistorical times men did not always go hunting, more and more evidence shows that women went hunting just the same or even more than men. If someone said to me something like this now, I would no longer accept it and stay silent the way I used to. Now, I would speak up and tell them the truth. Writing this down made me realise that many young teenage girls who are still trying to find out their place in this world, are told things like this. This holdes them back, silices them, preventes them from being brave and turn their dreams into reality. And many more girls and women experience sexism everyday by encountering events way worse than the ones I just described. I am angry, this has to stop. I promise myself now that I will keep my eyes and ears open. I will defend women and girls who for whatever reason do not have the strength to speak up themselves. By being a scientist I will show others that women are just as capable as men. I will use my knowledge and experience trying to change the world, but even if I only can help out one person, it is already worth the effort.

Elisabeth

I work as a teacher in a college in England. While I’ve worked in secondary education for 20 years, I can’t say I’ve experienced sexism in such an obvious and consistent manner as in the place I work now. Here are some personal experiences. Not long after I’d started, a senior manager snuck up behind me at the photocopier during a busy interview evening in a packed library. As I waited for the machine to finish my print job, he snuck up and stroked my back. I was so startled, I just managed to keep my composure (there were prospective new students and parents around).I blurted out that I’d nearly screamed to which he replied he liked to make women scream with a grin on his face. I walked off mumbling something about he’d better be careful as I might hit someone pulling a stunt like that again. I reported it to HR, who passed it on to assistant principal. They told me that the man in question had mistaken me for his friend (I’m about 8 cm taller) and that he was mortified. Next time I saw the guy, he glared at me with undisguised anger… So, it’s obviously a load of BE and he’s been let off the hook. Fortunately, I have little to do with him, but have since heard other rumours about him and inappropriate behaviour with female students. He was also the guy who in a staff briefing shortly before he sexually harassed me, referred to another female colleague as “the beautiful [name]” . Then there’s the PE teacher who makes a rehearsed joke during a zoom briefing how the rugby team had won a competition, but it was a shame that it was “just the girl’s team”. While there were horrified faces across the zoom call, I doubt much will be done about this. And finally there’s my Head of Faculty who patronizes every female colleague and forgets to address them by name in emails, while using male colleague’s names. Male colleagues who make a mistake hear nothing, while a female colleague making same mistake gets sent an unpleasant, patronising email telling off. In a meeting, I made a suggestion, only to be ignored. Then a male colleague makes the same suggestion and he is praised by the Head.Fortunately, my male colleague is a decent guy, who pointed out that I’d made the suggestion first. These are just some instances and I don’t think much will change while we have more men with the same first name in senior and middle management than women and ethnic minorities in leadership positions. I’m saddened by these experiences (all cover the previous 12 months), because if this is what I’m experiencing, what must our young students of all genders be experiencing?

The Unseelie Queen

I am a secondary school student who aspires to become an aerospace engineer. I am top of my class in physics and chemistry, yet when I mention my future plans, everyone says: “Oh, isn’t engineering really hard? I don’t think you’d be able to handle it, maybe if you like science so much you should be a (less complex, ‘womanly’ job).” Yet when my male classmate expresses his wish to be an engineer, no one bats an eyelid. When I counter this, I get called a bitch who must be on the blob. And they say sexism doesn’t exist.

Anonymous

TW: assault, bullying Last year, a guy in my class groped me at a party. I told him no the first time, but he did it again. I told a few of my friends for support reasons (this was not the first time I had been grabbed non-consensually and it brought back trauma from earlier in my life), and I talked to him about it a week later. He apologized and everything was (sort of) back to normal. Within a week, the story had gotten around the whole school. This led to my classmates, people I had considered friends, talking about me behind my back, calling me “overdramatic” and “whore”, and there was even one person who called me “crazy” to my face. I later learned that the reason everyone found out was because he had told everyone that I accused him of it and that I was lying. Most of our classmates took his side because he claimed he was “too drunk to remember” that it had happened, so therefore it didn’t happen. I still have to see him in classes almost every day, and some of his friends still give me dirty looks to this day. I lost friends and respect from my classmates because of something that was not my fault.

lola

once when i was 11 or 12 a guy (that is still friends with me now) touched my ass but the funny thing is i didnt even notice that it was rude or a bad thing at first because i was so used to people it and nowadays its normal but later i actually realised that he shouldnt have and im really uncomfortable around him now. we go to school together and hes in my friend group still i can just remeber being sat in my room when i got back from school and realising what was wrong with the situation. its been about 2 years now and im never going to bring it up. i never did really. but i now know its wrong and not to let someone just do it but i still wouldnt speak up. because i know the guys in my year theyll say im over-reacting and most of the girls will aswell so really theres no use cause the teachers wont care either after it all though he askef me out and i was too afraid of hurting hid feelings to say no. so we dated for 3 and a half months and he procceded to say rude things to both me and my friends

Emma

I remember in 2010, when I was 16 in high school, and I was wearing medium-length trousers (until my knee). I didn’t shave at that age, my body hair was not dark, it was very thin and light brown, you could see it only if you took a closer look. Anyway, I sat down next to my male friend, a good friend, and as I crossed my legs, he stared at my legs and said to me “Jesus, remove that body hair on your legs” … I wish I could have replied something in my defence, but remained speechless.

Ellie

My physics teacher at school likes to make jokes to help you remember things, to help remember superposition and interference for a wave model he jokes about the boys in my class forcing me against my will and me enjoying it.

Meg

I’m only 13. I should not have to go through this. I’ve been playing a lot of online murder mystery (Among us mostly) games lately with stagers in public lobbies. This tends to lead to people being less careful about what they say (or chat, this game had a texting like system to talk) because they don’t know who you are. While playing I’ve always played with a very feminine skin that I play with because I like. So far I have gotten many comments including: Are you hot? Want to date? Guess what? I fucked Meg (They actually said that. I was confused at first, but even more confused when I realized a random stranger was claiming to have had sex with me) Are your legs long? Do you have boobs? Thats really hot. Let me do the detective work sweetie. Well it can’t be Meg she’s too sweet to be the killer. While playing these games people will constantly be asking. Are you a girl? This doesn’t seem like a very impactful question but it really is. I was playing with this person who told me he was a boy so I told him I was a girl. I thought it was fine until I got accused of being the murder and he immediatly jumped in to defend me. Like a could not defend my self It might be just me but he deffenely did not defend me when he thought I was a boy. Also when we are playing they are always telling me to follow them. Him: Follow me around the map Me: Why? Him: I know where to go Me: So do I Him: Just Follow me okay? Like I was way to dumb to understand the game. The most annoying thing that happened to be so far was I was playing and fed up of being ignored, I put on a boy skin, a boy name and played the game. I found the killer every dam time. By the end of my 4th game everyone was really into it saying things like “you solved the case again”, “are you sherlock” and “you have 90000000000 iq”. When I mentioned I was a girl those comments stopped. I even ran the calculations. With a ‘boy’ name in a ‘boy’ skin, people were actually 68% more likely to belive me when I said I knew who the killer was then when I was dressed as a sterotipical girl. Of my 100 accusations as a girl I got called a bitch 13 times. “Stop being a bitch” “Stop being so bitchy” “Stop it. Your acting like a bitch” Sometimes they even accused me (as a girl) of being the killer. Not when i was a boy. Let me tell you, my male alias did not get called a bitch once. Even when I MENTION to my class that I play video games they automatically think I play games like Bitlife and the Sims4. I mean, I do but it should not be the stereotype that I play that and not Fortnite or Call of Duty. From now on I’m just going to play as a Boy. Its much easier. My new name will be Sherlock. They will not ignore me. Meg