If only I was born a boy…
I identify as a feminist. (I know, scary right?) You have no idea the reactions I get when I tell people I’m a feminist, but I won’t get into it, as that’s a whole other blog. But I am going to tell you why I am a feminist.
- When I was 5, my grandparents told me I could not go play in the woods with my cousins because I was a girl. I was confused, angry, and felt like it was a punishment for being a girl.
- When I was 7, my aunt told me and my female cousin, that we could not go on a bike ride with her as there were only enough bikes for the boys. I understand that adults have to make difficult decisions at times, but did she have to make it about my gender? I was angry, felt rejected and had a great sense of injustice.
- When I was 7, I asked for a building kit for my birthday from my grandparents, I got a kitchen and cooking kit. I was annoyed.
- When I was 8, I was walking through an open air market place with my parents and a man walked by and touched my bottom. I felt uncomfortable but thought it was a mistake, he then did it again and I felt panicked, he then did it again and burst into tears. My parents were confused at why I was crying, I didn’t have the words to tell them what happened, I was just overwhelmed.
- When I was 8, I was playing in a field near my house and a teenage boy, probably 14 or so came up to me and told me he was going to ‘fuck me’. I didn’t know what that word meant but I knew by the way he said it I had to get way fast, he went to grab me and I ran as fast as I could back home. I never told my mum because I was worried that I would get in trouble. I don’t know why I felt this, I just did.
- When I was 9, my uncle’s neighbor flashed me from his bedroom window when I was playing in the garden. When I told the adults my aunt came out with a camera and pointed it to his house. He shut the curtains. When back inside the adults all laughed about it and told me that in life there are dirty old men. I felt uneasy.
- When I was 11, a group of girls in my class told me I had to start wearing a bra because my breast were showing. I felt ashamed and embarrassed and confused, why did I have to hide my breasts? I got my mum to buy me bras the next day.
- When I was 13, a boy at school lifted up my skirt in the school corridor between classes. His friend’s laughed and I felt humiliated and scared. I told my teacher, she told me ‘boys will be boys’ and I should just ignore it and they would leave me alone.
- When I was 15, my mum told me that I had to watch my weight as boys didn’t like fat girls and that I would never get a good job if I was too big. I was angry and deflate. It didn’t matter if my grades were good and I worked hard.
- When I was 16, a boyfriend pressured me to have sex, when I refused he dumped me and told his friends I was a whore. I was angry and ashamed.
- When I was 17, the first time I went to the pub a man told me I had really ‘nice tits’. I was uncomfortable and embarrassed. My friends reassured me it was a good thing that men found me sexy.
- When I was 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, I was groped and pinched on the bottom or my breasts when out clubbing by a range of men. I was angry, annoyed, eventually thought it was quite normal.
- When I was 18, my grandfather told me I had to be careful about the number of boyfriends I had because men didn’t like ‘tainted meat’. I was furious but didn’t say anything because I had to be respectful of my grandfather.
- When I was 19, walking home from university a man tapped me on the shoulders, I stopped thinking he needed directions, he told me I be really pretty if I wasn’t so fat. I was so surprised I stood there looking at him, unable to utter a word. I was furious, deflated, embarrassed.
- When I was 20, whilst walking through town a man told me to ‘cheer up hen’. I was so angry, how dare he tell me to cheer up, my grandmother had just died but yet I still had to be a pretty happy object to be viewed by men.
- When I was 21, I was wolf whistled by 4 men in a van. I ignored them, they slowed down and told me to get in for a ‘good time’. I was terrified, no one around me seemed to acknowledge this was happening.
- When I was 22, walking to the train station a man followed me, winking at me every time a looked at his face, even though I changed my route a number of times, he followed closely. It was getting dark and I was very anxious. He came up to me and told me to come with him. I quickly walked all the way to the station never looking back.
- When I was 25, when in a cash machine que a man whispered ‘whore’ into my ear as he walked past.
I am now 40, and although I have many more example of everyday sexism, harassment and low level sexual assault, there are fewer every year, which is a relief. Sadly the statistics show that under the age of 25 you are significantly more likely to experience sexual violence.
So there it is, that’s why I’m a feminist, because the vast majority of this would not have happed to me if I had been born a boy.