Friday, 16 May 2014

Everyday Sexism

This is gonna be one hell of an interesting post. Well for me it is. I don't know how you're going to feel about it. If I'm honest I was debating writing it due to the whole taboo attached to females and gender inequality. 

I'd never in my life seen that I was unequal to men. I always thought I had just as much of a shot at anything as boys did. I am fortunate to have only experienced minor episodes of sexism in my life. In year 9 my Chemistry teacher informed me he thought education wasn't for me and I should go and study 'beauty' at a local college. I'd love to go back and show him how I am at one of the country's top universities, really I would.
My second experience of sexism was when I worked at Tesco to fund my A level years. I was 18 and I had experienced some serious bad treatment by a male till manager. He lied and manipulated my position. I was outraged and upset and did what anyone would do and take it higher. My supervisor was outraged and took it to the duty manager who then took it further. A week later I was called into an office with Personnel (HR to most of you) thinking I would get an apology (To be fair it was all I needed). However to my horror I was informed that it was 'Okay to get sensitive and have a little cry after work and *Insert till manager here* will give me a hug to make up for it'. I was outraged that my rational reaction to a situation in work was turned into 'irrational emotional woman' reaction. Thank god I was out of there and off to uni one month later.

So I class myself as pretty fortunate in terms of sexist incidents. However over this past week I have faced not one, not even two but THREE incidents of sexism. I thought I'd inform you and would love to hear your thoughts.

Incident One: My housemate has a Fiat 500 that has just turned 1. It has begun to make a weird noise so we went a local Fiat dealership for advice. As soon as we had entered the garage we were not approached but in fact ignored. I mean two young girls in a car dealership, how out of place is that?! (Sorry wasn't aware I'd slipped and fallen into the 1950s). Eventually we marched over to a salesman and informed him of the car issue. To our disgust he spoke to us in a demeaning and patronizing tone, quick to dismiss us. I rolled my eyes and walked out. 

Incident Two: I went out for cocktails with a couple of friends last week. We hit some bars and then drunkenly stumbled into a local club. As it is exam season we pretty much had the place to ourselves. I headed over to the empty bar and ordered myself a drink. The DJ (who was quite clearly bored due to the emptiness of the club) took one look at me and said 'What are you doing in a place like this?'
I responded with 'Excuse me??'
DJ: 'Well you're dressed to prim and proper, like the kind of girl who goes to church on Sundays'
Me: 'Are you kidding me??'
DJ: 'No I mean, like you're not dressed like the usual slags you get out'
Me: 'Please do tell me at what point you thought it was acceptable to speak to and about girls in that way?'
He quickly tried to hasten the conversation to an end by offering to play anything I wanted. I requested Beyonce (obviously) to which he responded 'Oh typical girl'
To which I responded with a speech of how not only does Beyonce inspire women to do what they want, dress like they want and be who they want but also to stand up to douchebags such as the one I was currently talking to. 
DJ: *speechless*......I'll erm, go and play you some Beyonce then...
I'm not going to lie, that was one of the most empowering moments of my life. Thank you Beyonce! 

Incident Three: Today I had to walk 30 minutes to my local doctors. The weather is hot so I was wearing my Guns N Roses vest top. I'm going to be honest In saying I have a cracking pair of DD's. That however does not mean every creepy bloke in a car, van or lorry is entitled to stare, honk and shout at them for the duration of my walk to the doctors and back.

Sorry once again, wasn't aware I was a walking piece of meat.

Before I came to uni I would never class myself as a feminist. To me feminists were extreme and ridiculous. It seems feminism is always in the media spotlight and in such a negative way. So much angst!  How wrong I was. I now would proudly call myself a feminist, not because I want to shoot men down but because I want to walk down the street without feeling afraid and insecure, to dress up on a night out to make myself feel good and for no other reason and lastly, so I can buy a bloody car without some wanker overlooking me because I have a pair of tits. 

I am proud that I stood up for myself in that club. I am not proud that a few female friends I told were so dismissive of my actions and telling me 'oh you're so silly/funny when you're drunk.' Ladies it is not okay. And I am not saying men don't suffer either. There are things the way men are treated because they are men that enrage me.

I suppose the purpose of this post is to highlight everyday sexism and to not feel ashamed to stick up for yourself, regardless of gender. I continue to feel optimistic about my future with little or non sexist experiences. But I do worry more now more then I ever did. Will things get better or am I in for a rough ride? I even ask myself, if I have a little girl in the future, what will her world be like?

I really am interested to hear your thoughts on this one so please drop a comment and let me know your thoughts and experiences! 

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