Archive for Social conscience

I need feminism becauseā€¦

I warned you I might start blogging about my burgeoning social conscience. A list for you:

At 12 a man called me over to his car, as if to ask for directions. When I leant towards the window I saw he was naked from the waist down, masturbating.

At 13 a boy who was 16 put my hand on his cock even though I didn’t want to touch it. I went home feeling confused, uncomfortable and scared about telling my mum what had happened.

At 14 my boyfriend had sex with me after I told him no, I wasn’t ready.

At 18 my new boss told me I’d got the job before I’d even opened my mouth. It was intended, and taken, as a compliment.

At 20 I was walking home from a supermarket in broad daylight and a man opened his coat and flashed me.

At 22 a man I was about to rent a flat from told me the contract couldn’t go through unless I increased the bond payment. When J phoned to find out what the problem was he was told the initial payment was fine.

At 24 a man in a Ford Cortina slowed to a crawl beside me as I was walking home and started shouting as if he knew me. “Just get in the car. We can talk. Don’t be so stubborn.” It terrified me because I knew no one would intervene in something that looked like a lovers’ tiff, and because he followed me all the way to my flat. I shut the door behind me suffused with white terror, convinced he’d try to get into the building.

At 25 I bought a flat with J, and made all the initial arrangements with the estate agents and mortgage brokers. Every single one of them, independently of each other, reverted to calling J once they met him.

At 26 a man yelled “Keep it up, fat bitch,” while I was out jogging.

At 27 while I was walking home from a nightclub a man shouted “Alright, how’s ya night?” I ignored him, which is what you do when you’re alone at 1am on the streets of London. He retaliated by shouting “Too fucking good for me are ya, you white cunt.”

At 28 my boss kissed me on the back of the neck in the staff canteen then murmured “You didn’t even jump, you must have liked it,” into my ear. He later claimed it was a joke.

I need feminism because I’ve spent my life making excuses for these stories. It’s normal, it happens to everyone, I shouldn’t make a fuss, I should take a joke.

I need feminism because I’m not an overly unlucky woman who’s had more than her fair share of run-ins with sexist men. I am one voice among tens of thousands who live this every day. Making excuses, laughing awkwardly, worrying if their skirts are too short or whether they were asking for it.

I’ve been following https://twitter.com/EverydaySexism with my heart in my mouth, appalled by the casual familiarity of the stories shared. It is vital these voices are heard, but it’s hard to feel uplifted by the movement when I think about the size and scope of what’s being said.

I don’t feel like a glass ceiling is the right metaphor anymore. Glass is optimistic, hopeful. You can see through it to what’s beyond. It can be shattered by a well-aimed blow from a stiletto or steel-toed boot (depending on your brand of feminism).

I’m not looking at glass right now. I feel desolate and defeated, staring up at a breeze block wall as high and wide as the entire fucking world. I don’t have a clue where to start to make even the smallest dent.

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