Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Everyday Sexism & Me - Sharing my stories

For those of you that haven't yet heard, Everyday Sexism is a brilliant new movement started up by Laura Bates, which has taken the internet by storm and even made Facebook change their rules. Fed up of seeing all the sexual verbal and physical abuse that women put up with - and having endured it herself - she set up an online space where women could share their experiences with the world, and also a Twitter account. Also, whilst it started as (and is still mostly) a place for women to share their stories, it also shouts out against sexism towards men. It's the kind of feminist movement I'm happy to stand beside.

EverydaySexism video (I highly recommend you watch this if you haven't already)
YouTube link here.

Now, I made a video a few weeks ago about the subject of street harassment. I was responding to some of the extremely sexist and ignorant comments on another video about verbal and minor-physical street harassment I'd watched. There were hundreds of comments along the lines of "take a damn compliment", "this is not harassment", "guys deal with this too, you're not allowed to complain", "they're just talking, they're not going to physically hurt you", etc, etc. This annoyed me and I made a rebuttal, which you can watch below if you wish.



In this video I mentioned a couple of things that have happened to me: being groped aged 13 by a boy in the street and being told "well you shouldn't have worn that skirt", and being leered at by couple of men earlier this year for eating a wrap (oh the sexiness of it... -_- ). These are only two examples of harassment I've faced in my lifetime thanks to being female, and I thought I'd share some other cases of harassment, and general sexist comments/acts, in random order in solidarity with the EverydaySexism campaign.
  • Having several grown men leer/wink/shout at me in one day because I wore a top that showed off a little of my midriff (& to clarify, it was a top intended for children & so I thought it was fine to wear). I saw where their eyes were darting to & never wore that top again. I was 12.
  • Constant shock from boys when they find out I can actually play football and can kick the ball directly to them (I was on my school teams in primary and secondary school, one mixed). Also playing games with boys & often having them either never pass the ball to me because they think I'll immediately lose it, or pass it to me ridiculously gently as if I can't stop the ball with my feet (it usually stops before it reaches me & I have to run for it).
  • Playing football with a mixed group and aggressively being ordered to "pass the ball, wench!". I didn't pass him the ball...
  • A boy in a Computer Science tutorial, suggesting that me and the other girl in our group only got high marks because our tutor was a woman and therefore she was giving us special treatment. Fortunately, everyone quickly put him in his place, saying everyone else got similar marks and pointing out that his marks probably weren't the best because he would only start his weekly projects the hour before they were due for submission.
  • Had two boys (older & bigger than me) follow me shouting, "Oi, mate! oi! Bruv!" at me aged about 16 because I had a short pixie-style haircut. I was in my all-girls school uniform with mandatory skirt. Definitely not a 'mistake' on their part... Girls just can't have short hair apparently.
  • Being told I only mention I'm a gamer because I want attention from men, not because it's been a genuine interest of mine since childhood that I enjoy talking about with other people.
  • Having people assume I was a lesbian because I went to an all-girls secondary school, and have them shout this at me down the street. This happened to most girls at our school and friends from other all-girls schools have shared similar stories with me. Especially annoying that "lesbian" was always said as an insult.
  • Google thinking I'm a man because of the websites I've visited (gaming, news & comedy are what I look up most, alongside cat & dog videos...). Kind of amusing but a bit sad at the same time...
  • A male employee in Game in 2010 going "Oh! So you're a REAL gamer?!" in genuine shock, when I answered his question of "so what games have you played recently?" when paying at the till.
  • Being beeped at whilst walking along with my other female friend because we were wearing shorts in the summer. Not even short-shorts. We were about 15.
  • A random guy (i.e. not an employee) coming up to me in the Game shop in Hamley's basement this year, and telling me how the two games I had in my hand were "amazing" and I should buy them. I don't mind advice from fellow gamers, but this guy was speaking to me as if I had no idea what the games were (one of the games was the original Bioshock. BIOSHOCK.). It also greatly annoyed my boyfriend who was nearby at the time & doesn't appreciate people talking to me like I'm a simpleton. I also caught the guy when he first saw me in the game section and he looked like he'd just seen a unicorn, so part of it may have been a crappy reason to just come up & talk to me. Whatever it was, it was bizarre, patronising and made me stay very close to my 6ft1 boyfriend afterwards (safety in vertical numbers...).
  • Being told aged 20 by my then-boyfriend that he didn't want me to do stand up comedy because "You would just embarrass yourself." "Why?" "Because women just aren't funny".
  • Other classics from the same guy: "All women comedians do is make period jokes." "Men are just naturally funnier" - yeah? tell that to the many crappy male comedians whose sets I've sat through and the others that just constantly make dick jokes. I'm still waiting for their "natural talent" to blossom... 
  • When I make people laugh, I sometimes get the line "you're funny for a girl". 
  • Wearing a low-ish cut v-necked t-shirt on a hot summer's day and having a group of older men make creepy faces/noises and boob-grabbing gestures at me. I was about 16 and walking along with my mum.
  • Scandinavian girl in a degree course I was in, in a discussion about women in the workplace, angrily wondered why most of the British students' mothers had stayed at home to raise their kids instead of being "real" women and carrying on working, with their children in the company creche. Lecturer had to kindly explain to her that the childcare options for parents in Britain are not as good (or as cost free) as those at her rich mother's company, or in her country in general, so she shouldn't be accusing us of having less-capable work-shy mothers as many are forced to stay at home. He also said that she shouldn't look down on women who decide to be stay-at-home mothers, because feminism is also about women having the choice to be at work or stay home with their kid(s). He was an awesome lecturer.
  • Being on a school trip with our year, and having a man open his coat up & masturbate in front of us as we were walking along. There were 90 of us, all aged 12/13.
  • Creepy-arse comments from people on my YouTube videos, saying what sexual things they would like to do to me. Never gonna happen.
  • Shared a good article about the creepy-as-hell "It's ok, just let it happen, it'll be over soon" line said at the Xbox One E3 event. Got this response:
  • I'm guessing "pun intended" means he was referencing anal rape (and doing so as a 'joke') because the article talks about rape. I don't understand how "calm thine tits" is a pun, that's just saying, "calm down woman" in an even ruder way. I don't understand how either one is a pun actually - puns are funny play-on-words jokes with double meanings, not rape references and sexist phrases. I also don't understand what putting #videogames is supposed to mean - that rape jokes are just a part of video game culture? Because I've played various forms of video games since I was about 4, played online MMOs (mainly Runescape) as a teen, and I honestly have only seen rape jokes and references being used widely in gaming in last 5 years or so, mostly by the more immature members of the community. Like this idiot.
  • Was waiting on a street corner, outside the shop I'd just come out of, trying to cross the road. Car pulls up in front of me and the guy winks and me, 'kisses' at me and pats the passenger seat. I give him a disgusted look & step back, making him drive off (scared I'd tell the people in the shop, I bet). I was about 10.
  • Was out with members of my university dance society on a society night out. The majority of our group were women & when we accidentally walked into a room in a club that was closed for a private party for the uni mens' rugby teams, they started singing a song about tits, vaginas, sex, etc, laughing heartily. Such gentlemen.
  • Constantly being told "I wish there were more girls like you". You know what? There are LOTS of girls like me, stop assuming all girls are rubbish with a few exceptions. Same to girls that do the same thing with guys. Not everyone in one gender is exactly the same with a few exceptions.
  • On the bus to work, drunk guy gets on the bus (he stank of alcohol) and decides to sit directly behind me, despite it being pretty empty. No big deal to me, until I hear him making kissy noises right behind me into my ear. Urgh.
  • At about 6 years old, had a boy in the year above constantly come up to me & lift up my skirt in the playground because he thought this was hilarious. 
  • Usually being the first person the shop assistant comes up to in any video game store to see if I 'need any help' (this has gradually reduced though, which is really good).
  • Being sent an explicit email from someone, because they liked me but didn't know how to tell me, so they got their 30+ year old friend to write a disgusting email to me (saying explicit things about parts of my body, including words like "scabby c*nt") out of frustration. I was 16. They never got a date with me. I did forgive him but we became very distant friends after that.
  • Every time I go into a club I end up with at least 1 of the following happening to me: guy trying to grind his crotch into my bum, guy pretend-humping me from behind, being groped, stroked, grabbed, leered at, etc. I just want to dance around to S Club 7 with my friends and have fun without feeling like we have to constantly defend ourselves, and each other, from perverts. Fuck. Off.
  • Was approached by two guys in a club who said their friend liked me and pointed over to him. Without looking at him (to not give off the impression that I was checking him out before making a 'decision'), I said straight away to his friends "I'm sorry to disappoint him, but I have a boyfriend" (I did). I then looked across at the guy to smile and be empathetic (I've liked people only to find out they were taken & it's not fun). At that moment I saw him say to a friend, "pfft, yeah, whatever...she's just saying that". No. I honestly have a boyfriend. Not every woman in a club is available - also not every available girl is out looking for a guy. Many are just there for the music.
  • Working as a bar-person at Ascot Races, aged 19, three men (looking in their 40s/50s) said they would refuse to pay me unless I gave them each a kiss on the cheek. I blew them a half-hearted kiss instead because I just wanted them to go away & that was ok for them, but they were obviously disappointed. Still kicking myself that I didn't go get my manager or at least threaten them with it - I was too scared of being accused of not enjoying "light-hearted banter".
  • Adverts like THIS online, often being shown next to my videos on YouTube. Degrading to women (boobs & 'no women'...) and insulting to many male gamers who don't just choose games with their penis.
  • Being told by people, when I complain about really bad cases of sexism, that I should 'not make a big deal' out of 'non-issues' or that there are 'more important things to worry about in the world', or 'other people go through much worse than that' or 'stop being such a feminazi'. 
  • I cannot eat a long cylindrical ice lolly without getting a 'look' from at least one male. It's annoying because Calippos are bloody delicious.
  • Guy I shared my first kiss with at 14 in an under-18s disco. We had only just met and I'd let him kiss me so soon after meeting because I thought that he was really nice as he'd said the nicest things any guy had said to me & had already asked for my number, sorted out a date & been a complete gentleman (I was a little naive). Later on in the evening I found out that he thought a kiss meant he could touch me wherever he wanted to, as he tried to put his hand down my top and up my skirt on the inside of my thigh (several times, despite me moving his hands away every single time). Stupidly, I still met up with him for a date afterwards because I thought that maybe it was a one-off and he wasn't like that all the time. He was. I also found out I wasn't the only girl he'd kissed or got the number of, but apparently he called me first because I was the best as I was 'the fittest'. He didn't get a second date.
  • Walking past a barbers, hearing"DAYUM!", and thinking it was funny until a guy walked out and followed me, making cat-calling kissy noises to try & get my attention as I walked away. I flipped him the bird over my shoulder & he wasn't best pleased... Too bad mate, I'm not a bloody cat.
  • Being on a coach going to and from PE lessons (the playing fields we sometimes used were a short drive away) and passing a car wash / garage where at least one guy would mime wanking/kissing/having sex towards us. This happened every week we drove past, from year 9 (about 13/14 yrs old).
That was just a selection of things off the top of my head.

Now, whilst I have written this list, I am not looking for pity or sympathy. What I ask for is empathy, not just for me but for women all over the world that deal with this stuff every single day. Many deal with much worse; I'm pretty lucky tbh, even compared with some of my own friends in the UK. Maybe you shouldn't dismiss every woman as a "feminazi" if they stand up against something they constantly have to deal with. Just be understanding.

And to the minority of my viewers that have voiced concerns that I am 'obsessed' with women's issues and are worried that my YouTube Channel will turn into a 'feminist' channel - I have said this before, but I am female. I will sometimes bring these issues up in videos because (as you can see from the list above) I have to deal with them, A LOT. Covering those topics doesn't mean I won't go back and talk about other things, three videos on a subject does not mean I'm "obsessed". I'm a woman, and that means that sometimes I might talk about this stuff in videos, because it directly affects me, many people I love and a huge chunk of the world's population (as well as men!). It's ridiculous and sometimes I need to confront it, in a ranty &/or humourous way.

And I also just want to say that I have also had lots of positive experiences with male strangers in public throughout my life - being courteous, smiling politely, paying me compliments in totally non-creepy ways (it IS possible, people), helping me get my suitcase down from the shelf on the train because they can see I'm a shortarse, being protected in moshpits at gigs (and a guy practically saving my friend from being trampled when she fell in one), etc. So yeah, I've got no problem with men, just the creepy sexist ones.

Anyway, if you still think I'm a scary 'feminazi' because of this blog post, check out EverydaySexism. Please take some time to read through some of the thousands of stories posted on their website, or follow them on Twitter, and please learn to empathise with people. 

Thanks x



"Those who choose not to empathise, enable real monsters - for, without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it through our own apathy." - J.K. Rowling

9 comments:

  1. Even after reading this great stuff and checking out that website, I still have a sense of self doubt as to wether I should show this sort of stuff to the people I know especially the sexist ones. The doubt is a lot less and I know it shouldn't be there but part of me just doesn't want to get that same old 'stop making such a fuss' response. But these sort of things are definitely the right way to go about it so thank you :)

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  2. That's a very long list. I wasn't aware you got that much, and some of those are downright disturbing.

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  3. Brilliant! I agree with everything you have said! *thumbs up* c:

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  4. I agree with all of them except the one about being called a lesbian for going to an all girls' school. I don't know if there are differences in England, but I live in the US and go to an all male school and people call me and other students gay all the time and none of us really care. Then again, there is ridiculous sexualization of schoolgirl uniforms, so that is probably a major factor. Many people would see a girl in uniform and imagine she was on her way to a porn shoot while the same person would look at a student from my school and think they are on their way to the family yacht (which would be odd considering I live about as far from either ocean as possible). All in all I enjoyed the post and video (which I found from TomSka's tweet). Thanks!

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    1. Yeah, since posting this blog I have heard stuff like this. Definitely more of a homophobia thing, but I will say that the lesbian "insults" greatly increased when I had my short pixie-cut hair because a woman with short hair = automatically gay.

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  5. I completely agree with you. I tend to be very shy, but it allows me to watch without favoring either side. Not all guys harass women but like with anything people remember bad things first. The problem with trying to disagree in any way with something like this is that most girls have some sort of harassment story and sometimes it's just cause some stupid guy thinks it's funny or wants attention.

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  6. shouldnt you be making me a sandwich instead of being online all day you fat fuck

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    1. Jesus, you're one hell of whore and have some nerve saying that after reading this blog post. How dare you say that to her, you fucking sexist. You don't deserve to be allowed fair trial for your rape court case. Btw I'm not a woman.

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