I cultivated an image to avoid unwanted advances, and negative repercussions of rejecting advances. I kept on 100 lbs of unneeded weight for the same reason. I told myself for my whole lifetime that I had succeeded at avoiding the pitfalls of sexism. But lately I have started to realize that I too, like all other women, do have countless experiences of sexism that I have had to endure.
I am realizing that all that attitude and style I cultivated still did not keep me safe, maybe a little safer than some, but still not remotely safe. This list is but a smattering of what I’ve endured over the years – and I haven’t reached 40 years old yet.
When I was 12, a respected community leader was in a van as a chaperone for myself and 3 teenage boys. He had the decency to ask if he could tell an off color joke. I told him I didn’t want him to tell it, and made that clear. He proceeded to tell his joke about masturbation while we drove on in a van I could not escape.
I have been told to wear a bra – by young people no less.
I was mistaken for a male at 14 years old.
I have been included in misogyny on both sides – perpetrators have assumed I agreed with them because of a supposed lack of femininity on my part, and it has been inflicted on me in other cases, both because and despite my supposed level of femininity. Like I’ve been considered “one of the guys” when they are the guys who say things like “I’d bend that over a bathtub” in reference to females.
I have been assumed to be a lesbian and assumed to be a man hater, respectively.
I have been called a femenazi – and I assure you I have no rhetoric or agenda regarding feminism unless asked.
I have been told not to worry my pretty little head, and was kept from doing some things as a child based solely on the fact that i was a girl.
I have been told to smile by a stranger, to make myself look prettier.
I have been told to lose weight, had “Jenny Craig” shouted at me, and heard jokes enough to choke a horse.
I have been catcalled.
I have been told inappropriate things regarding my body, sexualizing and fetishizing me.
I have been called more names than I can recount, but fat bitch is certainly near the top of the popular list.
I have been propositioned to whore myself out.
I have been told to wear makeup.
I have been assigned to, and relieved from, certain job duties based on my gender.
I make less money than the man sitting next to me holding the same position I do. But I was qualified enough to teach him his job when he joined my team.
When I worked while pregnant I was asked why I wasn’t at home, and I had to explain to my boss’s boss that I was the breadwinner in my family, and that I had to work to make rent – not that it was any of his business to ask in the 1st place.
When my husband stayed home with our baby while I went back to work, I had to repeat myself and endlessly explain what would have never been questioned had I been the one to stay home with our daughter.
Men consistently attempt to determine my marital status prior to engaging me, as if that has any bearing on how they should be treating me.
When they find out my best friend is a man, or that I’ve had any conversation with any man, people ask me if my husband knows.
I am sure I have been denied at least one job simply for being female.
I have been hit on in a business phone call.
I’ve been followed by more than one man on different occasions.
I’ve been hit on as a practical joke before.
I’ve been groped by strangers in public settings at least twice.
I’ve been touched in a way I did not like as a girl, and when I spoke out against it my own mother tried to brush it off and sided with the perpetrator – her boyfriend at the time.
I was told by my family that I was lucky that my marriage wasn’t arranged – no similar commentary was ever made to male relatives of my age.
Oh and how could I fucking forget the guy I gave a place to stay, thought we would just make out a little, and when he didn’t take no for an answer tried to pry my legs apart anyway?!
Yet somehow, lashing out is inappropriate though?
These are only the cases that stand out in my mind immediately; I could dig for more but it’s starting to bring me down a little. At some point women always circle back around to acceptance in the face of disgrace. I like to joke sometimes because of stuff like this that I never understood why women are made out to be weak, when we probably take more shit than men ever could.