When I was only 7 years old, I was running through a college campus, racing my mother. When I was waiting for her at the end, two middle-aged men on skateboards passed by me, calling out, “Nice!” and whistling at me. Now, I’m nine years old, and I constantly face these types of things at school, and everywhere in general.
I was in my MBA class and speaking with a male friend about how I wanted to get something that was kind of promised to me. It was a completely casual and benign conversation. Another male jumps into our conversation with “Rawr” like the cat sound, meaning that he thought I was being rude, mean, vicious, and/or bitchy. This is not, by far, the first or last time this has happened to me, or even from this individual in particular. He was not serious, because if someone really feels that way, you don’t make that sound, you have a conversation with them. His action is completely degrading and dismissive, but he thinks it’s funny and cute. Yes, it’s absolutely hilarious to be interrupted, implied to be bitchy, and that my thoughts, opinions, feelings, and/or words are invalid. Let’s pretend that my original words were heated. I have every right to feel that way and express my views. He would never say this to another man! It’s the same old story, if a male is a good leader, he is confident and assertive. If a woman is a good leader, she is bossy and arrogant. This is just one act of many that I receive day in and day out. It is so regular, that people accept and perpetuate it. I am so so tired of all of it!
Today I was working with a team of doctors on the palliative care inpatient service. One of the female doctors on my team is visibly pregnant. We participated in a long discussion with a cancer patient and her family about her prognosis and possible treatment plans. At the end of the conversation we were leaving the room and the patient’s son, for the first time, turns to the female doctor who is wearing a long white coat and a name badge that says “resident physician”. He says “Miss lady, is it a boy or a girl?”
This was a number of years ago when I was at Uni in the UK, I wanted to go on the pill as I was active and hadn’t really discussed the options with anyone before. The nurse I saw was less than helpful and basically said here’s some condoms, go use the internet and come back when you know what you want to try. I was so overwhelmed and confused by all the options, and also embarrassed about going back to this same lady that I didn’t get on the pill for at least another year, during which time I actually got pregnant. I then had to go back to this judgy unhelpful nurse to figure out how to have a termination. The whole process made me feel disgusting, I was 19 at the time, so old enough to know better, but mistakes happen. This nurse, and all the nurses at the hospital where I had the procedure made me feel so uncomfortable through the whole procedure like I was trash and bought this on myself. When the truth is I had too much to drink, went to bed and woke up with my “friend” inside me. I already felt disgusting, and they made me feel like it was my own fault because I wasn’t on a more permenant birth control and I got too drunk, no matter that I went to place I should have been safe. I didn’t need these people to add to the same, girls of any age shouldn’t be treated this way whatever their reason for visiting is.
I studied computer science. My class mates felt that they were allowed to touch my legs or arms, or pushed me to do things I didn’t want to. They were 5 years of studies constantly telling that women should stay cooking in a kitchen and take care for their man. Or one teacher called us “boys and future birth-givers”. Wtf. I had to leave the university at the last year because I was in terrible depressions taking antidepressants.
I went to a party with a couple of friends. One man, at least ten years my friend’s senior, asked her to dance. When she politely declined he told her, “Come on. Say yes. It’s party culture. You HAVE to.” She remained calm and said no again. He stormed off. At a different party later that night, I was dancing with my friends when a boy asked to dance with me. I said okay but after a bit he faced me and began to kiss me, I tried to shove him off but he just kept drunkenly forcing his mouth on mine. After a minute I finally forced him off and he tells me, “You wanted to dance, so you’re a bitch for not wanting me to kiss you.”
I am a film student and for my class we were supposed to organize ourselves into groups for the project we will be working on all semester. I go to a relatively small school, so the class size isn’t very big. There are about 7 girls and 6 guys. Every single guy in the class decided that they didn’t want to work with a girl, so they all got in a group together. It frustrated me that all of the guys saw us as inferior, and didn’t want to work with us. I am going to work extra hard to make sure my film turns out amazing, so they regret their decision and never overlook me as a filmmaker again.
This is just a case of normalised everyday sexism. I have suffered far worse over the years, but I feel it’s important to recognise ‘little’ sexisms, because they are a portal into deeper forms of sexism. The ‘offence’ occurred in a Canberra Cafe named ‘Grease Monkey’, where my son (28 y.o.) and I (55 y.o.) went for lunch. We were standing together, back a little from the counter when the male bartender looked past me to my son (for the order placement). I ignored that & stepped up to the counter because it was my shout and placed the order. He took it from me, but looked again to my son for payment. I was taken aback because it was in a metropolitan city and in 2017! At this point I cheekily said to the bartender, “I’ll be paying because I’m a grown-up and even earn my own money!” I smiled (well, maybe a slight grimace) and left the bar counter.
Every time I use the title “Dr”, I suddenly start receiving male pronouns.
At a party with friends, I overheard a guy asking his friend “You got her [messed] up dude?” referring to his friend’s date. I took it to mean he was encouraging his friend to take advantage of her. I asked a house member to check on the situation. The guy encouraging his friend later came and sat down next to me and asked me small talk questions, to which I responded with curt answers. Despite my clear disinterest, he put his hand on my waist and remained inside my personal space bubble. He began to ramble about how my major is a very noble thing to study and how men should treat women better. I eventually moved locations. I wish I’d responded by saying that if he really believed in respecting women, he would not have encouraged his friend to take advantage of someone, he would not invade my personal space, and he would not think I was stupid enough to fall for his incoherent expression of feminism, when his actions did not support it at all. As he left, he patted me on the shoulder with a defeated look on his face, as if to make me feel bad for not accepting his advances. Someone should teach him he is not entitled to any woman’s body.