(Sorry this is a day late. There was technical trouble last night! This is the second in a series of posts written by guest female authors and it details the frustration caused by growing up and living in a society which favours the opposite sex. It was written by my friend and ex-colleague, Elle Boocock and is well worth a read!)
When I was invited to write this piece on my own experiences of sexism, I realised I have such a wealth of material to go on that I didn’t know where to begin: a depressing reality for most women. They range from the relatively common act of ‘mansplaining’ (when a man might explain something to a women in a condescending and patronising manner) to serious harassment.
Perhaps my experience of sexism is put into an even more stark light when I have a male twin, who has been brought up in exactly the same way as me, and yet who I see is treated differently, given more chances, given an easier ride in life. And no, I don’t hate men, and I will quote feminist go-to-gal and all round babe Caitlin Moran on this subject: ‘You must never confuse The Man with the men. The Man is a shadowy mother**** trying to keep us all down with regular application of The Patriarchy. The men, on the other hand, are those guys you know who are nice to snuggle up with, and are good at heavy lifting. They’re very different.’
I have been ignored and passed over in favour of my male counterparts. A man told me whilst I was job-hunting that I should ‘just be a stripper’. Now 1. that involves a lot of skill and stomach muscles which, mister, I do not have, so don’t downgrade their jobs to a ‘just’. And 2. What gives you the right to suggest possible jobs to me when you look no further than my face? At one time I received regular phone calls to my mobile from an unknown number. At the other end of the line I could hear heavy breathing, and once a comment about my physical appearance and how this might make me better qualified to give fellatio (albeit in a less censored, and far more disturbing manner). Of course, how could I not realise that my worth is constantly attributed to the way I look! Forget my 1st class degree from a top university, that doesn’t mean anything! I should always make myself look like I give good head so men can creepily breathe down the phone at me: ah, living the dream! Somehow this man had obtained my phone number, and knew what I looked like. It was a threatening, scary and horrible experience. I have been groped, ignored, called names. And all of this has made me even more cemented in my belief in feminism, and in the need for equality.
But perhaps what I get most frustrated about is everyone telling women how they should be. ‘You should be thin’; ‘no you should be curvaceous’. ‘You should wear makeup to make yourself look your best’; ‘no, wearing makeup means you are no true feminist’. WOMEN, DO WHATEVER YOU WANT. Be a lady sex-adventurer, wear whatever the hell you want, stay in and read a really bloody good book, or grind away on the dance-floor in a sexy hot mess as if your life depended on it. Because there is no point in feminism if you can’t wear what you want, do what you want, and be whatever you want to be.