When I was 7, I was groped by my twenty-year-old neighbor.
When I was 11, a motorcyclist drew close to me, made a lewd remark and sped away.
When I was 15, I was groped by a passerby on a busy street.
When I was 21, a friend of a friend sent me a verbally abusive, demeaning, and perverted e-mail, just because I’d done something innocuous as forwarding a mail.
When I was 28, a rickshaw driver verbally abused me, called me a ‘whore,’ and sped away because I wouldn’t give me extra money above what the digital meter read.
These are just some of the instances that come to mind when I think back over my nearly three decades of existence on this planet. I’m sure I could come up with more if I thought about it. And I’m also sure that I’m not the only woman who has such blood-boiling stories to tell.
Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License
To throw light on sexual harassment, sexual violence, and sexism that women face from as early an age as 5, almost all through their lives, a new hashtag has surface, #WhenIWas. UK-based Everyday Sexism project asked their Twitter followers on Tuesday morning to share their experiences of sexism, sexual harassment, abuse, and violence, and the response has been overwhelming. Women from all over the world, of all ages, belonging to various ethnicities and backgrounds, have unhesitatingly shared their stories, driving home the fact that women have to face sexual harassment from a very early age.
Help us raise awareness of how early the problem can start by tweeting about your early experiences using the hashtag #WhenIWas
— EverydaySexism (@EverydaySexism) April 19, 2016
Some women who have shared their stories were just five years of age when it happened, an age when they barely know what’s right and what’s wrong, and even if they did, they might not have been believed by the adults. Some men have shared what they used to do to girls when they were young, and they confess to not knowing that their behavior amounted to sexual assault. If this isn’t a wakeup call to educate and empower women and men and teach them about good touch and bad touch from an early age, I don’t know what is.
If you’ve got the stomach for it, here are some tweets that throw light on the dismal state of affairs as it stands today:
— Rebecca Foote (@becswithspecs) April 19, 2016
#WhenIWas in 7th grade, maths teacher openly refused to help me when I asked for help. “Just marry well later.” My maths skills suffered.
— capriciously nerdy (@whatanerd) April 19, 2016
#WhenIWas 15, my female teacher told me to “stop overreacting” when I said I was being sexually harassed by a boy in my class.
— Hanknits (@hanknits) April 19, 2016
#WhenIWas in elementary school, boys would routinely touch me despite protests. Teachers never stopped them. Told *me* to stop complaining.
— capriciously nerdy (@whatanerd) April 19, 2016
#WhenIWas 7 I was told to let the boys win sometime or I would never get married.
— Jade Geary (@librarianjade) April 19, 2016
#WhenIWas 13 my uncle told me to get him beer & give him a kiss for taking me for a ride on his motorcycle He told me he liked tongue kisses
— Bresus (@BreeWithGravy) April 19, 2016
#WhenIwas at secondary school, a female teacher told us girls that it was our own fault for being harassed if we wore skimpy outfits.
— Jessica Wood (@JWoodEdits) April 19, 2016
— Alexa Morden (@alexamorden) April 19, 2016
— Lara (@chrysostomatic) April 19, 2016
— drimarx (@DRIMACHUCK) April 19, 2016
#whenIwas in 14 a teaching priest told us in class that rape is impossible as “a letter can’t be posted if the letterbox isn’t open”.
— Sadhbh (@Sadhbhzilla) April 19, 2016
#wheniwas 12 grabbing/slapping a girl’s behind was considered a game @ school. We knew it was wrong, no one told us it was sexual assault
— K_Civillywrites (@k_speakseasily) April 19, 2016
— Laujo (@LauJo) April 19, 2016
#wheniwas 15 my friend’s dad said he would “knock the bottom outta that” if he were my boyfriend
— grouchho marx (@trashbouquet) April 19, 2016
— Luna (@mentalexotica) April 19, 2016
#WhenIWas 17, I was raped by my first boyfriend. My school found out and tried to expel me.
— Ana Mardoll (@AnaMardoll) April 19, 2016
— Patrice Em (@putchti) April 19, 2016
#Wheniwas in HS, I was sexually harassed. Counsellor told me to show school spirit: if offenders were suspended, the hockey team wld lose.
— Permanent Side Eye (@sarahkerr81) April 19, 2016
#WhenIWas 5, I was sexually assaulted till I was 8, by a close family member. Still overcoming it and trying to be okay.
— Leeah the Spoonie (@POTSiePrincess_) April 19, 2016
#WhenIWas 16 i didn’t know how i was supposed to tell the boy on the bus to stop touching/groping me. i didn’t know that i could.
— sailor mourn ⚰ (@detricotage) April 19, 2016
#WhenIWas 13 we were told we had to wear vests under school shirts “no matter how hot it was” bc our bras were distracting male teachers
— Nina Keen (@KeenNina) April 19, 2016
#WhenIWas 6 the boys would pull my dress over my head and pull my underwear down. They were never punished because “boys will be boys”.
— Bri (@HospitableHippy) April 19, 2016
#WhenIWas 15 I was raped on the beach by a guy I had a crush on. My friends watched from the car & didn’t do anything. I blamed myself.
— Roxy Lange (@RoxyLange) April 19, 2016
#WhenIWas 15 my friend was assaulted by her boyfriend’s friend. when she reported it, the first thing asked was “what were you wearing?”
— christine. (@christyxcaverly) April 19, 2016
#WhenIWas 17 I was told in court that theres no way I was raped as I wasnt deemed attractive by my rapist. Tell me we don’t need feminism.
— am (@_xalana) April 19, 2016
#wheniwas younger I was told to shout fire instead of rape because people are more likely to respond to fire
— emma (@hxsho) April 19, 2016
Featured image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License