I thought I’d add myself to the long, long list of women taking up the cry of #YesAllWomen to document their experiences of sexism, harassment and abuse. *Warning: obligatory #notallmen part coming up* As others have pointed out, by writing this I do not aim to indite all men, I’m only trying to add to the vast swathes of evidence, on the internet and elsewhere, that all women have experiences like this.
So here goes. #YesAllWomen because…
- At 12, being made to pick up litter in my teacher’s classroom during an afterschool detention, and whilst I was on my hands and knees, hearing my teacher say ‘that’s a woman’s place’.
- At 13, being jealous of my friends because they got beeped on their way home from school by men in vans and I didn’t.
- At 13 and up, having to text my friends to let them know I got home safe and getting them to do likewise whenever we’d go anywhere after dusk. Never having to do this with my male friends. Still doing this now.
- From 13/14, ever since I grew my (large) breasts, having them be an open topic of conversation for anyone to mention, stare at or touch whenever they like, and me feeling that I had to be ok with this and even make jokes about my own breasts.
- At 14, in my first job (at a newsagents), having a married dad with kids my brother’s age that I knew from church give me his mobile number.
- At 14+, taking out my key and holding it inbetween my fingers as self-defense when walking home in the evening (from a friend’s house 2 minutes away, in a sleepy village) – Still doing this now.
- At 18+, being touched up in clubs, every time I’ve been in a club.
- At 19, being told by my manager at a well known pizza delivery chain, over facebook, that I had ‘nice breasts’ and that he wanted to ‘touch them’. Having to explain to him why it was not ok for him to say this.
- At 20, working at a large arts festival and being persuaded back to my 40 year old, married-with-kids colleague/superior’s flat, at which point he lunged at me for a kiss, then denied he had.
- At 21, working packing boxes in a warehouse and being told that only the men packed the heavier stuff because they were stronger. By a man who weighed less than me.
- At 22, being forced to listen to the radio at work, which for a 6 month period played Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ at least three times every working day. People thinking it was hilarious to sing it at me and watch my reaction. People deliberately forcing me to watch the explicit version of the music video to it because I’d said I was uncomfortable about it.
- At 22, being warned against meeting with a potential theatre collaborator at his home, even after I’d already met with him a few times in public and was working with him. Allowing this to worry and scare me. Feeling reassured, not because I knew he was a good person who wouldn’t randomly attack me, but because I was pretty sure he was gay. Never having this problem with any female collaborator/colleague.
- At 22, going to a burlesque club and the MD commenting negatively on a group of women who had just walked in, saying ‘the strippers have arrived’. At a burlesque club. Where people strip…
- At 22. being aggressively approached by a middle-aged guy whilst in a pub with my two sisters (aged 19 & 25). He was asking my younger sister about herself, and whether she was a student. When he asked me and my older sister the same question, we told him we were sisters. He got very offended(?) and pointed at my older sister (who has darker skin than me and my other sister) and shouted ” She is NOT your sister!” He then refused to go away until my other sister threatened to go and ask the bar staff to make him leave us alone. This was obviously threatening but also just bizarre and kinda racist?
- At 23, having to sit at the table in a restaurant listening to my fellow diners joke and laugh about the ‘good old days’ when they used to go clubbing and grope the girls in the clubs.
- At 23, and watching my partner try (unsuccessfully) to explain why he objected to a comment about how he’d been ‘raped’ at a video game.
- At 23, feeling a million times safer walking down the street (no matter the street, time of day or clothes I was wearing), when I’m walking with my boyfriend or any other man.
- Because I feel lucky as one of my only friends who has not been sexually abused or raped.
- Because I feel lucky, compared to my friend who was raped at a party and no one believed her, not even her parents. She decided not to press charges because she knew the guy was a ‘nice guy’ and she didn’t want to ‘ruin his life’.
- Because I feel lucky, compared to my friend who was raped by an acquaintance who spiked her drink at a party, and was told by the police that there wasn’t enough evidence to press charges
- Because I feel lucky, compared to my friend who was driving an acquaintance home from a club when he refused to get out of her car until she gave him a blowjob.
- Because I feel lucky, compared to my friend, who had the colleague/superior who lunged at me (point 9), lunge at her too, but was too drunk to say no. He raped her. I know it was rape because she told me she was in and out of consciousness when it was happening. She doesn’t see it that way.
- Because I feel lucky, compared to my friend who was hit and sexually abused by her stepdad when she was a child.
- Because I feel lucky, compared to a girl in my town who was raped as a baby and toddler by a relative.
- Because I read more news articles about cases in which women have lied about rape than about women who have been raped.
- Because more than two women are killed a week in my country by men.
- Because of Elliot Rodgers, and other men who think they’re entitled to women’s bodies, and that if women don’t want to give them their bodies, they deserve to be punished.
What are your reasons for #YesAllWomen?