Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch

Food for Thought… Sexism


The responses to this post at Shapely Prose really brought home to me just how much sexist bullshit women have to deal with in our lives, and how much of it we ignore, blow off, excuse, or rationalize, including some really vile, threatening and assaultive stuff. The comments are kind of a litany of heart-breaking experience.

I was not always the loud-mouthed, uber-sarcastic, combative bitch you see here before you today. I went through an excrutiatingly painful adolescence complete with early development, bad skin, and never having an “acceptable” body.

I had to start wearing a bra in fourth grade. Didn’t want to, had to. This, of course, was a source of much entertainment for my male classmates. I got felt up and had my bra snapped constantly. There was actual hitting for many of these occurences, because my folks had been pretty open about the concept of bodily autonomy. And I was frequently the one who got in trouble for the hitting, because “boys will be boys.”

Starting at 12, frequently co-workers of my father would mistake me for 16 or older. One of them made some comment at some point about what he’d like to do to “that” and my father scared the living fuck out of him. I’m kind of amazed Dad didn’t just pound him like a tent peg, honestly. Once, while we were living on a construction site in Eastern Washington, a group of construction workers cat-called me while I was waiting for my dad at the gate. I was never allowed to go meet him again.

In junior high, there were certain boys I could not sit anywhere near, because the harassment was so out of hand. If I were in front of one of them, they would repeatedly unfasten my bra, which lead to me running out of the room with my arms crossed over my chest several times, until I finally just got to the point that I’d just refasten it right there in class, because it happened so freaking often. My hair was pulled, hands would slide around my sides towards my breasts. Thankfully high-waisted jeans were in vogue then, I kind of shudder about where the touching would have happened if I’d been wearing low-rise jeans.

By halfway through seventh grade I was the school slut. If you listened to rumors, I had slept with the entire football team, I’d put out for anyone anywhere anytime, people had “seen” me sucking off teachers.

I was still a virgin.

I was raped. I was hit by a car. I was chased through barbed wire fences. I once spent half an hour huddled in a badger hole, because I was less afraid of the badger than the football players who’d chased me out into the desert. I had initially tried telling my folks about this crap, but after months of “just don’t react,” “don’t let it get to you” and nothing else. I gave up.

In a high school chemistry class, I had a fellow student use the excuse of reading my notes over my shoulder as an excuse to grab my hips and grind his crotch against my ass. I was wearing cowboy boots and stomped down on the bridge of his foot. I immediately became a “fucking ugly bitch.”

As an adult I’ve had men shout things from cars, accost me on the street, grab me, pinch me… I’ve never had anyone expose themselves to me, at least no anyone well-endowed enough that I could see that that was what he was doing. Stupid old prescription glasses.

Now the thing I’d like everyone to think about is, if you’ve read any of this crap and in your head decided that it’s no big deal, think again. Even when you’re a strong, opinionated, physically strong adult, a group of guys following you down the street telling you in graphic detail what they’d like to do to you is really threatening. Particularly, say when you’re getting off work in the middle of the night and it’s a block and a half to your car. For a lot of women who have internalized the “be nice, don’t be rude, it’s nothing, really” mentality, it can be fucking terrifying.

And it’s all bullshit.

What do I do in the face of crap like that now? I harass back. I heckle obscene phone callers. Like I said, no one’s ever exposed themselves to me, but I’ve been practicing the “Point and laugh.”
“Hey, baby! Nice Jugs!”
“Hey, sweet cheeks, let’s see your cock then! Turnabouts fair play, right?”
Or the ever popular, “FUCK YOU, ASSHOLE!”

9 comments on “Food for Thought… Sexism

  1. my_poison_apple
    August 20, 2008

    Nope, that’s not “no big deal.”
    That’s me when I started developing in third grade. That’s the shy nerdy girl in fifth grade who was instantly a notorious “slut” when she suddenly developed very large breasts. That’s half the girls (including me) in my junior high who staged a “walk out” during class because they were being explicitly sexually harassed and wanted something done about it — and whom faculty immediately dismissed. That’s me when I was sexually assaulted nine days after moving to Capitol Hill 2.5 years ago, when a man forced my hand to his exposed erect penis and tried to force his way into my apartment building, after which I was so terrified that I couldn’t leave my apartment and had to call a friend two apartments down the hall to come help me. (It was classified by police as “attempted stranger rape” and I walked around for months with pepper spray in one pocket and sharp rusty scissors in the other.)
    It’s why I got my bachelor’s in Women Studies. It’s why sometimes I’m glad that I can’t hear what strange guys say to me, because it’d make me so goddamn angry and upset.
    Motherfuckers just don’t have the fucking right.


    • polimicks
      August 20, 2008

      The part that just sickens me is that it takes so long for most of us to realize that shit isn’t ok, or isn’t “not that bad,” or isn’t just what we should expect for being female.


      • my_poison_apple
        August 20, 2008

        Jesus fucking Christ.
        Extreme example, but I just now read this: http://q13.trb.com/news/kcpq-081808-pikerape,0,3091371.story
        Broad daylight. Broad fucking daylight.


      • garpu
        August 21, 2008

        I really really worry about my nieces. They’re of an age, where they really want to belong and be part of the “in” crowd, as kids do when they’re around 10-13. It’s probably a good thing I’m not a parent, because I’d be gnawing my fingers down to stumps on the remains of my teeth I’d ground to dust.


  2. staxxy
    August 20, 2008

    The worst thing about getting back in touch with people I went to school with has been having to really address the amount of this shit that is *STILL* there. I turned down the invitation to the 20 year reunion because I worked hard to be rid of those stalkers and I do not want them to remember I exist.
    I don’t want to deal with the “holy crap, your tits are even BIGGER now!!”.
    I really do not want to have to deal with all the assault charges that would be likely to happen because my tolerance is fucking GONE for that shit.
    Sure, among my friend circles I can be ridiculously permissive, but that is among *friends*.
    During school, I was well known to be violent and hostile. I am eternally grateful that I was on the paper for part of my sophomore year, because it put me in a position that one of the guys watching out for me was the captain of the football team, and the other guy watching out for me was the most out there punk (our paper was a thing of wonder, make no mistake, those were our co-editors). I totally drew the great hand with that. But I still ended up having to be openly hostile during school just to avoid a lot of harrassment. And I *still* got more than anyone’s fair share of it.
    It really is all bullshit. It’s not a compliment, it’s fucking harassment.


  3. icprncs
    August 20, 2008

    Yeah, that post and links off it have been getting under my skin all afternoon.
    The thing is, over the past several years as my social circle has widened, I’ve found myself sometimes feeling fortunate at how LITTLE of this crap I’ve had to deal with. And that doesn’t mean I haven’t had to deal with it–it just means that compared to what many women I know have had to endure, my numbers are a lot smaller. And really, that’s completely fucked up, in a whole bunch of ways.


  4. kurosau
    August 20, 2008

    This is why I feel a little bit of judgmental behavior is in order when it comes to combating racism and sexism.
    Namely, we should be teaching kids to not act like assholes and to treat people who act like assholes like shit. Educate them in how to not be an asshole with a very rough stick.


  5. m_cobweb
    August 21, 2008

    Ugh. To make it very brief, middle school and my freshman year of college. Sure, the middle-school harassment was part of a general pattern of bullying (“garden variety,” yeah right), but being molested by a classmate when I was in ninth grade took it even farther. And my first semester of college was utterly wretched due to the boys in my dorm (the word “boys” used very deliberately here). I was a virgin till I was 23–wonder why?
    Edited to add the one about the two guys in the pickup who were following my car one night when I lived in Arlington, TX–scary as all hell. I finally drove to the grocery store across from my apartment and stopped in front of it, where it was well lit. When they parked farther away and started to walk towards my car, I floored it out of there, across to my place, ran inside as fast as I could and proceeded to shake for a damned long time.
    And then I realize how many women had and have it even worse…


  6. javagoth
    August 21, 2008

    I had to stop reading the comments…
    All the fat comments were getting to me.
    Here’s my own abbreviated list:
    I was waiting on the corner of a residential street for a friend when truck of teenage boys went by and spit beer or soda on me – I really can’t recall…
    I’ve had people yell insults at me more times than I can count when I was out riding my bike, walking or riding my horse. Favorite insults included “Which one is the horse?” and “I didn’t know whales could ride bikes”.
    Parents of kids on opposing teams at sporting events would make fat jokes about me.
    I’ve mentioned before about the lectures my mother would give me about being fat and how boys would only ever want to date me if I put out, etc.
    For some mild disagreement (which I really don’t recall at this point” I was called a “coniving cunt” by a guy.
    I was told by someone at the unemployment office (when I was still in my teens) that I would be in the smallest minority for being hired because I was white and fat.
    Many, many times I’ve been called at “fat bitch” or some derivative of such just for not agreeing to date, dance with, or whatever I denied a guy a ride of…
    I’ve had my bra snapped – mostly in Jr. High.
    Mostly in high school and jr. high most boys ignored me except to insult me because they wouldn’t want to be seen as attracted to, much less dating, the fat chick.
    I’ve had many men assume I should be falling over myself to fuck them because they expressed interest. After all I’m fat therefore I can’t possibly have standards…


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This entry was posted on August 20, 2008 by in Uncategorized.

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