youth

amy

i am 15 years old in grade 10. I started to hear sexist comments in school by grade 5. On a daily basis I hear comments about women being unqualified to work, women belonging in the kitchen, women over using the term rape and sexual harassment and comments about feminists being cancerous, over weight and pretty much every other degrading word in the book. To top it off, every time i have spoke up to say something i get ‘its just a joke’ ‘take a joke’ ‘calm down its not like they really mean it’ … but my question stands, why is it that degrading women is so funny? It’s not a joke, it never was. I started getting cat called at 12 years old, when walking home from school on pajama day. In grade 7 i did a project on gender equality and was told by 4 boys in my class that it wasn’t real and it didn’t matter and to just sit down, shut up and look pretty. When i was 12 i was told by my friends grandfather that people need to stop making such a big deal about a few little jokes boys make time to time because boys will be boys. When I was 14 I went to a fair, and tripped on a rock. I fell to the ground and was immediately surrounded by boys I didnt know, all older than me. They turned to each other and said ‘what do we do with her? should we take her somewhere? what do you want to do to her? can i go first?’. so my bad for ‘not taking a joke’. im so sorry i don’t think my objectification is funny.

M

I’m 14 and when I was at a summer camp last year, we were watching a play while sitting on benches. I was sitting up straight so I could see the show when I heard a group of boys whispering behind me. I felt a pinch on my ass and I turned around in shock, and they all started laughing. I thought maybe I had imagined it so I turned around and pretended it didn’t happen, but it happened again and I was mortified. I could hear them laughing the whole time, but i was too embarrassed to say anything. When we left and went back to the house we were staying in, I told my friends and they claimed it was because I was “ sticking out my ass.” Since when is a girl sitting up straight an excuse for a teenage boy to violate her body as a joke. What kind of society do we live in that permits them to do so and not think anything of it, and to think it’s funny! Young girls are taught that boys will be boys and to think nothing of it, but why does no one tell them not to do it in the first place!

One of many

Starting a new school is a scary thing. In the move up to secondary school I was apprehensive about work, friends and the general flurry of teenagehood. What I wasn’t scared of was catcalls, abuse and being sexualised by strangers. At 11 I was unaware of why older men would whistle , admire my ‘nice tits’, threaten me and sometimes follow me home. I didn’t understand why my school uniform didn’t immediately stop the harassment. I didn’t understand why I felt scared walking home alone, even in mid day, I just knew that I was. I didn’t understand why my male teachers may be ‘distracted’ by my bra straps or skirt. Theattitudes towards it were always ‘maybe he thought you were older’ or ‘dont you kindof like the compliment’. No. It made me feel threatened and weak and objectified and this seems to be a standard almost accepted part of growing up. So many Girls take it on the chin as another sign of puberty and so many Women accept it as inevitable.

Anne

At work a week ago I was returning a carton of milk to the dairy case. I was wearing my hair in pigtail braids because it’s too thick to do much else with it. Well, an old man I passed saw me and felt the need to call out, “A milkmaid!” I’ve since switched to a different, older-looking hairstyle, not because of that alone but because I am harassed at work SO MUCH that I’ve come to expect it every time I go in, and I suspect it’s due to both being female and my youthful appearance. Oh, and a few weeks ago a male customer stopped and stared at me for several seconds after his transaction was done, then left saying sarcastically, “Keep smiling.” I don’t go to work to smile and look pretty. I go to do my job and earn money. That’s IT.