Aug 21, 2013

The Myth of Shared Girlhood

The below first-hand accounts of sexual victimization of young girls are taken from a sample of 200 submissions to the Everyday Sexism Project from a roughly 10 hour period on June 17th & 18th this year. I implemented a cut-off age of 16 and included only stories with an explicit age mention.

The project currently has over 60,000 distinct entries and has been active since March 27th this year. If we assume the same ratio (7%)  of accounts of girlhood sexual victimization, it now contains approximately 4,200 such testimonies, although the real ratio is likely to be somewhat higher.

This is only a small sample hinting at the magnitude of the problem.
I have walked by men who leered at my twelve year old sister, I've been called a bitch for turning down dances and I had my legs groped by a taxi driver pretending to reach for the clutch. Men have pulled my arms at parties, run their hands between my legs, grabbed my ass and smirked at me as if they were being funny, and not until I turned 20 did I start retaliating. I slapped the last man that grabbed my ass, and I wish I had done the same to all of them.
Was living in Russia when I was about 16. Some drunk 30 year old just picked me up and dragged me into his room while I was screaming NO NO NO. Luckily he was so high I was able to push him off. I didn't come out of the apartment for a week.
The next year a 40 year old I barely knew drove up next to me and pushed me into his car and told me we were going camping, the two of us. I crawled out the window on the other side and ran home.
In 10th Grade during a class, a boy asked me for a hug. I decided to be friendly and give him one.
As I hugged him, I felt hands on my rear and immediately pulled back. I asked if he groped me, looking disgusted. He responded with a 'no' his face mixed with laughter and mockery.
I was only 15.
15 yrs old at a small family fair & local music festival with 2 friends, standing in a line listening to the 3 gross and disgusting adult males (I refuse to call them men) discussing how amazing my tits were.
On my way home from school as a fifteen year old a man approached me and told me I was looking 'fit'. he said he knew me and that I had been at his house at the weekend but I didn't remember it because I was so drunk. He told me that I had been there with him and implied that we had done something sexually.He asked me to come back to his house. I said no but he started following me. I had never been to his house. 
During my junior year of high school everyday upon entering my math class I would be greeted with profane and suggestive things yelled at me by a group of boys. My male math teacher was directly in ear shot and never acknowledged or reprimanded any of the students but instead pretended not to hear and continued to write the day's lesson on the board. Their yells hurt but his silence confirmed that I should expect this as normal. 
I was followed home and the man groped my thigh the lift/elevator. I managed to call the police and they caught him after they watched the tapes of the security cameras. I'm 14.
My ride to middle school also had some high school students in the van. A junior year high school boy would try to sit in my lap each day and I would have to slide away to avoid stares. One day he tried to do what he did everyday and I punched him on the behind. He screamed, "Who did this?" No one responded and he sat far away from me that day. Never came near me again.
When I was 14, I was walking to a restaurant with my older sister (18 at the time), and it was summer so I was wearing shorts and she was in a sundress. On the way there we got honked at. And on the way back, some man yelled something along the lines of "I'd hit that!" out of his window at us. For both things to happen within an hour of each other was astonishing and terrifying.
I was 14 years old and in school. Due to a scheduling fluke, I didn't have lunch with my class like I should have, so I sat alone at a table and read a book while I ate. On the way out of the lunch room one day, someone slapped my ass, way too hard to be an accident. Because a hundred or more students were rushing out the doors at once, I looked behind me and had no idea who it was. But I strongly suspected it was one of the boys in a laughing group. They were all delinquent kids who had been held back once or twice and were several years older than me.
I still fantasize about what I would have said to that creep.
A man backed me into the corner, felt up my inner thighs, and told me he wanted to "make love to me". I was fourteen on a church mission trip.
I was walking down a fairly public street and behind me some guy shouted, "Hey how much you cost?" I ignored it because that's apparently what you're supposed to do and he caught up behind me and forced my hand onto his erection as he grabbed my penis too. I was 14.
When on holiday last year, a cleaner from the hotel took a shining to me.
One day when I was riding down the elevator alone he got right up to my ear and whispered "you look very pretty today". Not wanting to be disrespectful I said thank you and went on my way. He kept bumping into me and hanging round this huge hotel waiting for me.
One afternoon there's a knock at my door and he's there, he asks me to go out to the town with him for the evening and when I say no he carries on asking me. He explains he can't date me during his working hours because it's against hotel regulation but he sees no problem once he clocks off. I keep telling him no. He then asks for a kiss, and when I say no, he asks for a picture, and when I say no, he asks me not to leave him at the door.
I ask him his age and he tells me he's 27. I was 14 at the time, and look about 18 max. 
I was at an amusement park. Since it was over 95 degrees, I was wearing shorts like any sensible person. I had climbed the stairs to a tall slide, and after I came back down, a friend that was waiting for me at the bottom told me that the ride attendant had taken a picture at an inappropriate angle of my bum ss I climbed the stairs as well as my breasts when I had turned my head. I was only 13 years old.
I was taking extra German classes when I was 13, outside of school. The teacher, a man in his 50's, repeatedly suggested that I should be eager to earn extra credit (blowjobs) if I was a good student. Mind you, no-one else was allowed this 'privilege' and of course the 'opportunity' was never offered in front of any other students.
13. I went to a summer camp and there was this counselor and he kept staring at all of the girls boobs. None of the teachers noticed so they didnt do anything, but it made all of us uncomfortable. I mean, we are 13 year olds! 
Age 12/13/14 a boy 1 year older than me at school would grab and slap my ass and say "alright darling". When I told my family about it they just laughed.
My ass is not public property and you have no right to touch it.
At age 12 the Recreation Director of a senior's home at which I am a volunteer offers me a ride home. He drives past my home and stops the car. He insists that I want to kiss him. I insist that I don't. After a short time and very fortunately he puts the car in reverse and drops me off without further incident.. 
I couldn't have been more than about 12 or 13 years old, and I was in the grocery store with my mother. 2 men came up to us and asked her how much money she wanted for me. I didn't realize until I was much older what they had meant. Afterwards my mother never spoke about it to me or anyone else as far as I know.
I have a friend who is younger than me, though she looks older than she is. I met her in town a few weeks ago. She was very shaken up when I met up with her. She told me about what happened. While she was waiting outside the library, a man approached her and asked her for her number. She told him no, but he persisted and asked her four or five times. He kept on saying how he liked her legs. She lied to him and told him that she was 16 years old and had a boyfriend. This man, 25+ years old creepily said "That's alright." When she tried to escape him and walk into the library, he blocked the door, but eventually she got past him. She told me not to tell any of the adults, so they wouldn't freak out.
Later that night, she saw him around multiple times, in the teen section of the library where he was told to leave, and on the streets. My friend is eleven years old.
I was 11 an shopping in Primark when a man who must've been over 50 came up to me and asked me if I wanted to come with him and pointed outside the shop. All the while he was looking at me up and down, almost undressing me with his eyes. I couldn't think of anything to say to make him go away. Thankfully my mum came back around the corner just then and he got scared and ran away. 
As a 11 year old in my football kit walking home from school I turned round to see a 20 something man down an alley masturbating at me. I was so scared I ran home in hysterics, terrified that this man was going to rape me although at that age I didn't even really know what that meant.
It was the end of class and I was bending down to put something away like the teacher asked me. While bent over, something smacked my butt. Hard. I jerked up to see my male classmate, who I knew well, holding a wooden ruler in his hand and laughing as he stroked it. This was 6th grade. We were 11 years old.
I was walking home from school when two boys in their late teens were barking at me from the back of a truck. I was 10.
My cousin, 14 at the time, took me to my bedroom. He took off his pants and told me, a nine year old girl, to take my clothes off. I started to cry, I was confused and so scared. He pulled his pants back up and told me to be quiet. He had the audacity to tell me, a nine year old girl, that it was my fault he felt this way. I believed him for a very, very long time.
Summer of my 9 years old, our class just had a water gun fight in the park. I was drying my shirt with the hand dryer in the women's bathroom. Adult guy (maybe 40?) steps into the doorway, watches me, comments on my drying technique. He comes in and puts my still-wet shirt back on, then he gropes my breasts and between my legs. A teacher came in to fetch me and he ran. I never told anyone because I always believed "nothing really happened" and that it was my fault for being there, drying my clothes, "letting" him, not giving a police statement. But the fact is that something did happen, and none of it was my fault. None.
When I was about 9 years old I was staying round a friends house, lying in a campbed next to her. Her brother who is a year or so older walks into the room and sits on the end of my bed. He starts touching my feet and up my legs, as I pull away he is there again. I am very ticklish so I was laughing through it, but I was also scared and absolutely did not want him to get anywhere near my crotch. His sister sat there and watched the whole time, saying nothing.
When I was maybe 8 or 9 years old, I was waiting in the car for my mom when a man pulled up next to our car, opened his door to adjust his seatbelt, shut it, & then re-open it to reveal his half-naked body to me. He began to masturbate. He then shut the food and drove off. I never told my mom. I'm 28 now & this still creeps me out.
The first time I was sexually harassed I was 8 years old. A boy in my class told me that he was going to force me into the corner and give me a "good fucking" because I was "too cute". I never told anyone because I believed it was my fault. I am now 17 years old and have been harassed lots of other times and that moment is still the clearest.

All rights reserved to The Everyday Sexism Project. I redacted names to help further preserve the writers' testimony, however the testimonies themselves are now published and visible on the main website and in some cases the US website. It is not technically possible at this time to link individually to entries on the main site.

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