This is the first time I’ve posted on this forum, and I wasn’t sure which story I should include. But, seeing as already today, before 9am, horns were tooted at me and I was ogled at on the tube, 4 times, I feel it appropriate to share this. It’s the last day of August. I live and work in London. I have a 45 minute commute on the tube and it gets very hot and very uncomfortable quickly. So, naturally, one would prepare to wear clothing to keep cool, without getting to work looking like a frizzy-haired, sweaty bear who’s just failed at running a marathon. So, today I have on a dress. Not my normal every-day wear, but seeing as it’s summer and beautiful weather, why not. It’s sleeveless, red and black, has a bateau neckline (no I didn’t just Google that) and sits just slightly above my knees. God Forbid. Cramming onto a tube in rush hour is bad at the best of times, but when it’s sunny and warm outside, so many people are in the worst moods ever. Me included: it’s early, I’ve not had my coffee fix, and I’m crushed into a little tin can that’s hurtling below London’s hot and busy streets. So sure, if you bump into me, I’ll more often than not give a wry smile and a nod of the head – it’s ok. But not this morning. I managed to get a seat about halfway through my journey, once I’d changed from the Northern Line to Piccadilly. And immediately a man who had been sat across from me came and sat right beside me. A little weird, sure, but hopefully harmless. It was as his man-spreading increased and his leg was pressed against mine that I wanted nothing more than to actually get to work and type up my Finance meeting notes. When I jumped off the tube and walked out the station, a builder standing smoking immediately wolf-whistled. On my 5 minute walk to work, 2 white vans honked their horns and the men inside laughing who legit looked about 14 drove away on their merry way, leaving me to feel conscious and walk that little bit quicker and warier of any men around me. All for wearing a dress. The most frustrating thing about this is that I feel there is no way to change this behaviour, because it’s all just a joke and lads are being complimentary, innit. Don’t get so worked up about men paying you attention. Well the thing is, I don’t WANT or NEED this attention. I was on my way to work, as I do every day, and I expect to feel safe and normal like any other person. How can this actually change and what needs to happen before men stop. Just stop.


Summer is worst. I’ve had a comment from random on the street everyday this week and am fed up. Good weather in London seems to involve men thinking it is ok to comment on you and give you an awful sleazy look. Doesn’t seem to matter what I’m wearing; from work stuff (shoulders covered/knee length skirts) to running stuff. Cars slowing down, with window pulled down. It’s nothing threatening, just a daily annoyance. I’m careful not to respond in case it escalates.


Why part of me hates wearing shorts in the summer even though I have great legs: 1. Wolf-whistled within 10 seconds of leaving the house. 2. Minutes later the TFL attendant stops me as I’m about to go through the ticket gates. “Wo wo miss stop.” Coming over to me. I thought he was about to say the tube’s closed. “My gates get very wobbly when they see beautiful women. Just be careful yeh. They get wobbly. Be careful.” Out of habit, from a lifetime of being taught to please others and not to ‘rock the boat’ or offend anyone, I dutifully smile. Then I remember that I don’t have to pretend that I find this flattering anymore. It’s tiring. I can acknowledge what this really is – weird and creepy. Being harassed as I begin my commute of an afternoon by a middle-aged, balding, fat man who is supposed to be in a position of authority for my safety and security on the tube and responsible for my customer satisfaction. I drop my smile with immediate effect and it crashes to the floor as I finally locate my oyster card and march through the barriers with attitude. He didn’t mean it in a bad way. He thought he was being kind and funny and friendly. (But I’m thinking what if that’s because we’ve been silent for too long and just ‘ignoring’ it? With the result that he and too many others are blissfully unaware of the effects of their actions) And I feel anything but. I felt on top of the world as I left the house and now I feel ridiculed, self-conscious, vulnerable, fed-up, tired, small, insignificant, unimportant, sad, upset, angry, unable to look at anyone on the tube and paranoid that everyone was looking at me, looking me up and down, letchilously. I know that’s not a word yet but it should be. Looking around, there aren’t that many people wearing shorts considering the heat and considering what great legs Londoners normally have from all that walking. Maybe this is why. It’s summer. It’s hot. I’m wearing shorts. They’re called legs. Most people have got them. Get over it. Please don’t make me feel like some weird sex-alien for having legs. This is not exceptional. This is “normal”. I just felt compelled to write. Mainly for therapy. (I also posted this on my facebook and instagram and is now one of my most popular posts in terms of reaction, which just highlights the need for all of this!)


Walked into the train station behind a woman. Man shouts “oi, fit!” at her. She confronts him about his behaviour, telling him he should keep his opinion of people’s bodies to himself. He tells her she should be grateful for the compliment and he has a “right to his own opinion. He is shouting and stood up and is moving towards her so I stand next to her and say he should try “have a good day” next time rather than “oi, fit” and that he should keep his opinions to himself. He continues shouting over both of us even when we’re calmly saying “don’t shout at me”. Then because he’s been called out he starts insulting her saying “you’re not that fit anyway, I was being generous” He keeps shouting “ugly bitch” at her while we stand our ground, telling him that’s not how you talk to people. The train came so we escaped. She thanked me for the back up. I was shaking with adrenaline when I sat down on the train. Other people were on the platform though I didn’t see any station staff. Those who were there stayed away.


I was out for a run this evening, enjoying the warm sunny weather. I am training for a marathon so I’m out running most evenings and I have met plenty of pleasant people. Unfortunately this evening I was passed by two ignorant men in a red transit van who beeped the horn at me as I was waiting to cross the road. One of them shouted “GIVE US A SMILE SEXY”. All I could do was gesture at them but they couldn’t meet my eye. Why do some men think this is acceptable or entertaining? I was so angry because I am working hard to achieve something and yet because I am a woman I was made to feel self-conscious and even slightly ashamed of my body.


I have just returned from my first ever holiday abroad without my parents, and whilst I had an amazing time overall, I feel that some of the behaviour that my friend and I experienced may have tainted these memories. We have just finished secondary school and decided that we should travel to a few places in Italy to celebrate. Whilst we expected that as young females, we may have to be slightly more cautious than if we were travelling with our families, I was not prepared for the sheer amount of minor instances of sexism that we encountered. For instance, in Naples, our first destination, we were catcalled many times a day (on one occasion, we counted over ten separate examples within half an hour). These ranged from simply, ‘ciao’, to highly explicit sexual comments, sometimes leading to groping. I am aware that my experiences are not the most severe or shocking, however they made us feel very unsafe and forced us to restrict where and when we could go out (which I personally don’t believe would have been the case had we been accompanied by a man). One of our main reasons for deciding to go abroad was to find freedom and independence, but sadly, our ability to achieve this was limited due to unnecessary sexist remarks. Something which may have seemed like a harmless compliment to the perpetrators, when combined with other factors, effectively ruined some aspects of our holiday, which seems very unfair to me, and of course parallels what many people (particularly women) experience throughout their entire lives.