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Dealing with sexism - If you could go back......

(139 Posts)
ToniSH Fri 22-Nov-19 17:01:39

Something I've been thinking a lot about lately, especially with #MeToo and general harassment issues being in the news. Like most "women of a certain age", I've experienced my fair share of subtle and downright disgusting sexism, and often wish I could go back with my 58 year old head on and give 'em what for.
Ironically, by the time we get to the age when we give far fewer Fs, we are bothered less anyway.
Is there anything you wish you'd done or said, back in the day?
For me, although I was pretty vocal about work instances, and paid the price a few times, I actually wish I'd "taken matters further" and made a real stink.

suziewoozie Fri 22-Nov-19 17:13:07

I don’t think you should worry at all - that’s past and things were different. Whst matters now is that you are supportive of younger women whenever it’s clear that they are being subject to sexism. That you call out any men you hear being sexist and that you join those of us on GN in calling out the disgraceful sexism on here exhibited by some posters. Don’t look back, join the current fight

SirChenjin Fri 22-Nov-19 17:17:56

I wish the 19 year old me had gone to town on the female train guard who told me that the men harassing me on a train were “just a bit boozy after being offshore” as she proceeded to leave me on my own with them (they had surrounded me and wouldn’t let me get out of my seat to move to another one).

So many examples actually - it was just one of those things 30/40 years ago. It was all about keeping quiet and not making a scene angry

ToniSH Fri 22-Nov-19 18:09:43

OMG. I'd hope we would be all over that now! As the mother of a 20-something young woman, I can't imagine leaving another young women in that situation.

ToniSH Fri 22-Nov-19 18:12:46

@suziewoozie - Oh, believe me, I'm on it now. It's my passion. I do think however, that we can use our 20-20 hindsight to help young women. They don't have the confidence to do what we know we could/should have done back then.
I'm very proud of young women today,. Despite some older, famous women like Anne Robinson calling them "not robust" etc, I think they are showing great strength in standing up to it. While I think we were strong in our sheer endurance, there's a lot of strength in young women who say "Nope, I'm not putting up with it any more."

FlexibleFriend Fri 22-Nov-19 18:56:47

No because I responded in the way I should have at the time, I've never allowed anyone to get away with touching me inappropriately without telling them what I thought in no uncertain terms. Nothing like an elbow or knee in the bollocks to make a point.

SirChenjin Fri 22-Nov-19 19:13:44

How would you have reacted to a group of men raping you or sexually assaulting you?

kircubbin2000 Fri 22-Nov-19 19:32:39

When I got married all the parties we were invited to consisted of the women being ushered into the front room whilst the men went into the kitchen to drink and we had no more contact with them.

eazybee Fri 22-Nov-19 19:38:44

I honestly don't think I ever experienced any; if I did it clearly made no impression and certainly didn't hold me back.


Grammaretto Fri 22-Nov-19 19:41:27

I was very young and very naive when I had my first creepy experience. It was luck rather than design that I managed to escape. When I was asked later what was making me shake with fear, I refused to say. Partly because I didn't have the vocabulary and partly because I thought it was my own fault!

A few years on, another attempted assault, I called the police and reported it. This was to protect any girls who were like my younger self.

I often think I was very lucky and I do think girls today are better equipped to look after themselves. My 13yr old DGD is articulate and thoughtful and hopefully, streetwise.

GagaJo Fri 22-Nov-19 19:55:21

I was sexually assaulted at 17 and almost raped. I escaped because I fought back BUT I didn't even consider reporting it.

And then a year or so later, I spent an evening talking to a bloke at a party, who then told me I was obliged to spend the night with him and wouldn't let me go, so rather than get raped, I did.

When I worked for Lloyds Bank, I was told I couldn't be promoted, because men with families needed the promotions because they supported families.

At work as a teacher, younger, less qualified, less experienced male teachers have continuously been promoted ahead of me. It's ONLY in the last 10 years really that things have changed a bit in that area.

gmarie Fri 22-Nov-19 20:08:00

Grammaretto , same here, only I was so young and naive (8) that I didn't know what was happening. A park employee told me to go to the back room to get a hockey stick I wanted to check out and then chased me around the room with what I thought was a huge plastic thing hanging out the top of his pants. I'd never seen a grown male's genitalia, not even a picture. I got out but just felt confused and unnerved rather than fearful. I didn't tell my parents until I was 12.

My cousin and I were also approached by a friendly transient in the field next to our house. He asked her to sit on his lap so he could tell us a story, which she did. I think we just thought he was nice, like a grandpa. It's good that these days, for the most part, we make sure our children have the basic knowledge they need to recognize some of these behaviors.

gmarie Fri 22-Nov-19 20:25:46

GagaJo, your story reminded me of the time I went on a date with a guy who arranged music for the Jefferson Airplane. When I wouldn't sleep with him, he left me on a road out in the desert. I'm finding that most women I know have several, if not many, of these stories of near-assault in addition to the actual assault incidents, not to mention the misogynistic and discriminative ones.

Chewbacca Fri 22-Nov-19 21:01:26

When I was 17 I worked for a national bank's head office in a north of England city. One afternoon, just after the bank had closed to the public and we were cashing up, the bank manager called me to his office on some pretext. Without any preamble, he got up from his desk, shoved his hand up my skirt and his tongue down my throat. I can remember gagging and struggling to get away. He eventually let me go but as I was leaving his office, he slapped by bottom very hard and told me to keep quiet. And I did. It was 1969/1970 and I knew that if I said anything, I'd be told that it was my own fault for wearing a mini skirt. He must be long dead now but I remember his name and his face like it was yesterday.

Sara65 Fri 22-Nov-19 21:12:24

I had several unpleasant experiences with a neighbour, I guess I would have been between about 11 and 15, he was a man living at home with his parents, I’m guessing he was probably mid twenties.

He touched me inappropriately in many occasions, grabbing my breasts, shoving his hand up my skirt.

I told my parents, mainly because my younger brother hung out with him a lot, and I wanted it stopped.

Guess what? I was the disgusting foul mouthed trouble maker, they didn’t believe a word!

FlexibleFriend Fri 22-Nov-19 21:24:56

So many men have thought it appropriate to expose themselves on trains to me when I was barely a teenager, I never ignored them or froze, I just walked out of the carriage through the adjoining doors into the next carriage and made sure everyone was aware of the pervert. I've had weirdo's in alleyways approach me menacingly and turned and run. I would never be the lone female on a tube or train or top deck of a bus. We always made sure we had someone to see us home, we didn't take chances. The workplace I wouldn't tolerate inappropriate touching, jobs were ten a penny so if I got the sack for punching someone in the bollocks I'd get another job but he'd think twice about doing it again. I've worked in male dominated industries most of my working life and honestly never felt unsafe or intimidated.

Urmstongran Fri 22-Nov-19 21:38:12

When I was 18y I was having a driving lesson with a very popular (and expensive compared to others) U.K. driving school. The instructor indicated for me to turn off the main road, turn right again into a quiet residential cut de sac.

He leaned over and switched off the ignition. I naively thought he was going to ask me about the Highway Code.

Oh dear me no.

Very inappropriate behaviour followed. Gosh I even remained polite whilst batting him away! (He was late 20’s/early 30’s). I was SO embarrassed.

We drove back to the driving school office in silence. I was mortified. I booked lessons with someone else after that. I didn’t even THINK to report him. I was young, inexperienced and unsure of myself.

SirChenjin Fri 22-Nov-19 21:46:34

So many awful stories and I imagine we’ve not shared everything. This is just the experiences of a few women on one forum - extrapolate that across the UK and beyond and it becomes clear that sexism and sexual assault and threatening behaviour and worse is something that’s all too familiar to far too many of us - and it continues to be the case sadly.

We must be very clear that it’s never the fault of the victim.

etheltbags1 Fri 22-Nov-19 21:56:31

I would smack the face of my first boss for putting his hand up my skirt

Sara65 Fri 22-Nov-19 21:59:30


I don’t consider myself responsible, but I can think of several instances where I put myself in very vulnerable situations.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say I got what I deserved, but I certainly think I made some stupid choices.

I think girls today, are a hell of a lot more streetwise, thank God.

GagaJo Fri 22-Nov-19 22:07:09

Hmmmm, I don't think I'd put myself at risk, at all. I was with friends on EVERY occasion I was attacked/treated inappropriately by men. It just IS the way it used to be.

It enrages me when people try to say the #metoo movement is political correctness. It's the way life used to be for women. A large percentage of men attacked women on a regular basis because they could get away with it.

SirChenjin Fri 22-Nov-19 22:35:23

Maybe you made some stupid choices - but that never, ever justifies assault or rape or worse Sara and we must move away from this mindset some people have that women (and it’s usually women) somehow ‘deserved’ or ‘asked for’ it because they made the wrong decision or didn’t react in a certain way or reported it too long after the event or whatever.

rosecarmel Sat 23-Nov-19 00:07:35

It's never the fault of victim - Not ever- But every victim has to live with their decisions- Its an informative part of the story that helps other females both young and old be proactive, to become more aware of their surroundings and potential circumstance and think ahead-

Amagran Sat 23-Nov-19 00:31:07

Spot on SirChenjin. It cannot be repeated often enough:

We must be very clear that it’s never the fault of the victim.

We must be very clear that it’s never the fault of the victim.

rosecarmel Sat 23-Nov-19 00:50:58

The decisions I made that contributed to my personal circumstance aren't irrelevant- They don't make me to blame but they do contribute to and facilitate safety- Going on solely no victim is to blame, and nothing else, is sending a dangerous message: You'll not be at fault for walking down a dark alley and you get raped-