student

Maxine

Not really sexism but worth putting out there This boy in my class named Gumi (pronounced Goo-mee) never does anything when there is the 60+ make substitutes but today there was a female one who is 24 and she had a male friend come into class and help her. Gumi asks if he’s her boyfriend. She says “No, we’re just friends.” He says “Is your boyfriend okay with you hanging out with him?” “I don’t have one, (a boyfriend) get back to your work.” 20 min later “Are you sure he’s not your boyfriend?” “Yes. We’re just friends.” Gumi then loudly yells “FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS!”

Annie

I was working at a student internship shift. The guys I was working with started talking about a girl that qualified the previous year and the only thing they could say about her was the “nice ass” that she had in the most vulgar language. This woman happens to be one of the best paramedics I have worked with, but that one encounter made it clear that as females our abilities are secondary to us being a sex object in this field.

student

Yestoday we were speaking about older men in my mental health group and whether their relationships with younger women were toxic or not . I said they were often unhealthy although not always and used my relationships as an example,I have seeked out older men for relationships due to childhood abuse and many of the men noticed my vulnerability and took emotional advantage of it. Another woman said that it wasn’t toxic,and mentioned how younger high end sex workers have older men as clients and the women outsmart them. As someone who works in the sex industry I replied that I have had incidences of physical and sexual assault while working and outsmarting cannot eradicate this risk. She said that a professional sex worker would not get assaulted, which didn’t sit well with me. smart and experienced people are not devoid of bad experiences and saying it is a result of unprofessionalism seems to me to be victim blaming. I do not enjoy having my job explained to me in a patronising way by someone who has never sold sex, and in a way the sex positive movement is giving a very glamorised fictional version of the industry where no worker will come to any harm and actively cheering on women to enter the industry, ignorant to the very real risks it can pose. Yes my work has been helpful to me and has put me in a place where I could not have been otherwise, I have much preferred it to my previous job. But people acting like it has no downsides has a dangerous edge, it has its good and bad points like any other job.

DO NOT PICK UP

I am a young migrant from a -so called- third world country and I certainly look like it. I was mid way my PhD and huge financial problems developed back home. I approached my bank at the time (Natwest) as I heard that, given my financial history with them, I was elegible to get a small loan. The costumer service guy who explained the process was being a little bit too friendly as he was asking me for my personal info. For example he started asking me if I had a boyfriend and how was my relationship with him, etc. Since is relatively normal (or so I thought at the time anyway), that guys engage you in that way sometimes, I overlooked this, and continued engaging in the process. It felt weird, but I let it pass. At another moment, when we were going to sign the papers and finalise the loan agreement, (we were doing this at one of those private cubicles that banks have), this guy prints the documents and keeps being a bit too friendly, uncomfortably so. The next thing I know he starts making remarks about what sexual positions he likes, and insists that we should ‘meet up sometime’. It all happened very fast, and as I recall the incident is hard for me to remember details, but what I do recall was my utter fear of not being approved that loan that I needed so much. So, I remember navigating the situation without confronting him, kept being ‘f’riendly’ in the surface, only hoping to sign my papers and leave the place. This guy had my number (and all my personal details for obvious reasons), so at one point I did think ‘what the hell I am going into’?. He gave me his personal mobile and said he would call me – which he did, several times. I recorded his number in my phone with the label creepy guy from Natwest DO NOT PICK UP, to make sure I would always avoid answering the phone by mistake, or whatever. Luckily eventually the guy stopped calling me, but I am always suspicious and never pick up phone calls from numbers I don’t know. As I write this I realise this is perhaps my mind trying to protect me from that guy. To this date, every time I walk past that Natwest branch i get the creeps, and I have never entered those premises again. It’s been almost seven years since that incident, and only recently managed to clear my debts. After receiving the letter from Natwest confirming this (few days ago), the memory of that episode came back to me as a chilling reminder of the kinds of things as women we have to put up with on a daily basis. At the time to be honest, I simply normalised the episode and even made a bit of a joke about it with my friend (also a migrant woman of colour). We reflected a lot about how twisted this power dynamic was played out and used by him so shamelessly. We dissected the different layers of disadvantage I had over me, and how it would make more harm than good to me to try to denounce the situation. Looking back, I am not sure if I was right or not on letting it go, but I guess at the time that was the decision I felt most at safe with, so I don’t regret it. Although, of course, my feminist self nowadays does pose on me the challenge, or rather the question, would have been be best to confront him? VERONICA

Becky

I’m a student who works in a bar to help pay my rent while at university. While I don’t experience any comments from the people I work with its very common for men that I’m serving behind the bar to make comments about me and how I look. Saying things like how ‘I can serve them properly if I come round the bar’ calling me over with a whistle and clicking their fingers at me. I get called sex on legs and get told to bring my sexy ass over here. It makes me very self conscious, because I work in boots jeans and a uniform blue polo top and still I get these remarks. It makes working their very difficult sometimes

17 Years Old

This year I attended a summer programme in preparation for university in this coming September and I stayed in accommodation provided by the institution. Within the first day I was told by some of the other girls that the males had been putting bets on me and speaking about me in a degrading manner. I was a little shocked, however, I did not think about it very much as it has happened to me before. After this, at a party a few nights later, some of the males approached me and asked me extremely personal questions regarding my sexual preferences, referring to me in a sexual manner. I tried to discourage this by stating clearly that I was not interested; when this failed to work, I explained that I had a boyfriend. The fact that I was taken seemed to quell most of it for the rest of the night until I went up to my room after the party. One of the guys followed “jokingly” and sat on my bed for a long period of time, asking me to come over and to “show him a good time”. He also made jokes about a recent sexual assault that happened there on the first night (I will not go into details here but basically a guy was arrested after sexually assaulting three of the girls that I lived with) laughing about how there was going to be another one tonight. I was really scared but I still felt like this was acceptable as the boy I am describing was drunk. As he would not leave, I phoned my boyfriend to let him know about the situation, seeking advice, and he seemed to blame me for having not made it clear that I was not interested in the drunk guy. After this happened, I researched into sexual assaults against students within the university I will be going to and there are several documented and reported cases – that’s not to say that there are not more that go unreported, undocumented, unacknowledged. Morally, I know all of this is wrong and it is not something that I should have to deal with but it seems like this kind of thing only really gets worse, even if you have the confidence to step forward and report it. I never reported that guy because I feel like I would be wrong in doing so and I am not sure why I feel like this.