I go to uni in a very small town, and one day last year I was just minding my business walking down the street and a man sitting outside a pub by himself just shouted “smile!” really aggressively at me and other girls walking past. I mostly just couldn’t believe that in such a small town he could get away with intimidating me like that in broad daylight on the street right near my flat too.
I am a lecturer in a department with mainly women, 2 men. When I became pregnant one of the men said to me ‘all pregnant women should be sacked’ Sexism towards women is not restricted to men. In the same department, another pregnant women was made to feel ill at ease by female colleagues who criticised her for taking time off work ill in her 3rd trimester. The discussion was that female colleagues who had chosen not to have children should not have to step in and do the lecture on behalf of someone who had chosen to have a baby. I think internalised sexism by women is an equally big issue in the department where I work and more widely in society
It happened during the university’s homecoming weekend of my freshman year. I was wearing baggy, thick sweatpants and a dyed purple baggy long sleeve t-shirt. I had a few drinks and met with 2 or 3 of my new uni friends. After a few hours, I was sober but my friends were still slightly drunk. We decided to go back to my dorm room to just take a nap as we already had a long day. I was cuddling with one of my friends, about to fall asleep and my other friends were in the same room, doing the same. He starts to rub my breasts without asking me, with my other friends still in the room, hiding what he was doing underneath the blankets. I took his hand firmly and moved it away from my breasts underneath the blankets to stay subtle. He then travels down to my pubic area and start to rub there too. I moved his hand away again. This happened three more times before I gave up and let him do this and more anyways because I was too scared of overreacting in front of my new friends. He told my other friends to leave and we had sex because I felt obligated to. He did not ask for consent. I never reported it because of the ambiguity of the intoxication and the fact that I had sex with him. I haven’t worn the clothes I was wearing ever since and I see him everyday in my classes.
I’ve had my fair share of sexual harassment but lately I’m in a situation I don’t know what to do about… So short side note first, I live in a flat that is connected to another one though we are 2 separated flats (it’s difficult to explain). I’ve lived there for 2.5 years now and one of the tenants living in the adjacent flat as been kind of stalking me since I moved in. It started with inappropriate messages (let’s go swimming together/how about we have a drink in my room tonight) and escalated to an kiss I did not consent to. I have been ignoring him since the beginning but he just doesn’t stop (even for the short period of time he had a girlfriend!). Last Saturday I was invited to a birthday party of his flatmate (we get along really well and he’s a genuinely nice person), and while there I kissed another guy. Afterwards my stalker interrogated my flatmate if that was normal behaviour for me (specifically going out to meet guys to sleep with), started mopping around and at the end insulted me before hugging me (again against my consent) telling me he didn’t mean it. I told him that he definitely meant it and if he still feels bad about it when sober to come over and apologise. Which I’ve been waiting for since. As a student in a city with high rental prices I can’t afford another place. And since he knows where to draw the line (we are both law students) or only acts inappropriately when inebriated (try proving intent) there is nothing I can do since (according to the law and the police) he didn’t overstep any law. I’m just happy my flatmate and friends understand and help me to avoid situations where we are alone. It just annoys me that there is nothing I can do and I’m scared of telling him no outright cause he might sneak in at night/when I’m home alone (I can’t stay locked in my room the whole day).
In my years leading up to higher education, I attended an arts school. This school had models and dancers, and very few straight men, so I got very little attention from the opposite sex. My first year in university contrasted that entirely; I was sexy, men wanted to be with me, women wanted to be friends with me. I had never experienced this kind of attention. I felt loved and beautiful. I had a sexual experience with a friend, and it was casual, and I realized I could have pleasurable experiences without dating people, which I didn’t know before hand. This same “friend,” however, repeatedly had sex with me while I was extremely drunk, when I had previously stated I didn’t want to have any more sex with him sober. This happened twice before I caught on, but he would make a big show of “rescuing me” from a perceived predator and then, (once physically carrying me,) to our dorm block, where he would tell me I was too drunk to go to my room, offer me a place in his bed, and eventually have sex with me. I didn’t realize this was abnormal. I did know that when he kicked me out after having sex with me, I felt sick, dirty and used, both times too drunk to make it to my own bed. After researching sexual assault, I confronted one of our mutual friends about my belief that he sexually assaulted me. She told him. He began verbally abusing me to all of our friends, limiting my contact with our mutual friends, crying to anyone that would listen that I was, “ruining his life.” This was not my intention, I had barely understood what sexual assault was, and just wanted to broach the subject with someone I thought would understand. Immediately, all my friends stopped contacting me, would say I was over-reacting. I felt so guilty for ruining his life, but I didn’t understand what I did to deserve the things thrown at my door late at night, the verbal abuse when I would see him/ threatening body language when he would hang out with the few friends I still talked to while I was there, largely uninvited. I still felt terrible about making him feel bad, and thought I was lying to myself, until about two years ago, when I realized he had done this to other girls. He had sexually assaulted me, and instead of feeling regret, sadness or any emotion other than anger, he chose to make me feel guilty, and alienate me, as he had done to the others. I still feel as though I’m at fault, even though I realize a “friend” would never have sex with you while you are black out drunk, and attack you when you felt you had been victimized. I dropped out that year.
When I was doing my diploma in math, I worked for a professor (let’s call him P). When the two of us had the work related meeting, he made strange comments about my cloths and “caught” my hand with his when I was giving him back my empty cup. And when I was sitting close enough, he picked up a hair which fell from my head on my cloths and landed on my boob. He took it off, touching my boob, and said “Ms. [my name], you have a hair there”. I said nothing, I was completely shocked… I went on with the meeting. When I was done with my masters thesis, another professor took me in as his PhD student. Professor P went to him and made a deal with him that I’d be transferred to professor P. When all of us sat at the table, they told me what would happen. I realized that if I’d agree, I’ll get my PhD only if I let myself be f**ked by professor P. I did my best to say I don’t want this deal. After professor P left, I cried in front of my supervisor. But he didn’t even ask what was the matter… Luckily, I was able to change the supervisor and was supervised by a woman. I finished my PhD. During my PhD time and after that professor P continued by making inappropriate comments, even when his wife was present in the same room… University is one large big d**k made of some smaller ones. If you’re a woman and want to make something in math, choose a woman as your supervisor. Most of the time, she won’t have an urge to use her power to sexually abuse or harass you. Ever wondered why the percentage of graduates in math is strongly decreasing from disploma/masters, PhD, postdoc, to the professorship onwards!? It’s a rigged system.
Half a year ago, I was on exchange and a male friend of mine wanted to come and visit me. He’s not really a super close friend but I didn’t wanted to be rude and tell him to book a hostel or anything, so I let him stay at my student room. I bought this inflatable mattress for him and put it at the other side of the room (to make clear that I had no intentions, because he’s definitely not my type and I had a boyfriend back then). He stayed for a couple of days, and I couldn’t mishear all the masturbating (also because of the sound from the inflatable mattress) he did during the night or in the early mornings. I felt so oppressed and I am quite prude in the way that I didn’t dare to mention it straight up to him. One morning, it was clear that I was awake and I heard him masturbate and I was like ‘Hej, could you stop I can hear you’ and he didn’t react (turned out he sleeps with earplugs). While the next day, during a trip he mentioned to me I should maybe sleep with earplugs cause that would be better if I had this problem of hearing everything. As if it was my problem.
I had always that one male teacher/professor, who told me that I can not be successful in science or engineering, because I am a woman. A few weeks before my finals, my math teacher offered us a one-to-one conversation about a possible study of mathematics. When I asked him for his opinion, he answered: “You are good enough to do it, if you were a boy, but as a girl…”. At the beginning of each semester, all students of a study programm meet with the director of studies. At my second semester I was the only woman. When the director entered, he looked at me and without welcome he said with surprise in voice: “You are still here.” “Yes, sir.” “But you failed all tests last semester(!?).” “No, I passed them all.” “But you failed my test (!?).” No, I passed it with a good grade.” “Oh, I did not expect that.” Im my engineering studies, I am often the only woman in class, especially in class of this one special professor (the director of studies), who knows exactly how many jokes he can make without consequences. Every morning, we had to come in his laboratory to call him for class. One day, when we entered the room, he was talking with his male co-workers. He turned to us and asked why we are there. A fellow student answered that we are there for class. The professor turned to me and said: “Then take off your clothes, so we can get started.” He began to laugh. With a reserved laugh one of his co-workers said to him, that you could misunderstand his statement. He answered that he meant my scarf. I was shocked and could not say a word. And these were only three of many everyday situations. Thank you for reading.
I was at a National *Music* Competition and the organizer said to the whole festival (from the stage) something about how there is higher female participation in all the categories, and they were winning! Then he said that “the women are starting to be proficient at the *instrument.*” All of my male colleagues turned to look at ME, the only female in the group. I was livid. I later won my divisionS and he wanted to have a picture taken with me shaking his hand. I took my award and walked away, but not in a %^&* you kind of way, in a fearful way. I was so young and had no tools for dealing with someone who thought like that.
It was 90F outside and I was wearing a summer dress. The wind blew as a trucker passed by and said, “What else you got between those lips!!!!” When I was accepted at a University, my boyfriend lied and said he wasn’t married. I got pregnant and miscarried 5 months later. I went into post Mortum depression where I was hospitalized because of suicide attempts. My boyfriend found me and broke up with me in the psych ward because, “You are a liar and a whore.” Years before, my step father tried having intercourse and I was taught in church that I shouldn’t until married. The next day, I ran away and became homeless when I realized mother couldn’t defend me. Even in elementary school, the teachers would fondle the attractive girls.