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Is it as hard being a woman as it appears?

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I was watching a favorite British panel show (The Last Leg with Adam Hills, an excellent show) and they were talking about the Weinstein case. Is it as bad for women dealing with misogyny as it sounds when hearing about how horrible this man was? Do women have to deal with this daily, weekly or monthly? (Even once is too much!). So don't thrash me too hard, I admit I don't know as much as I should but I'm here to learn! 

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TheAP

I can't speak for other women, but I haven't dealt with it very much, if at all.

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Claire1983

It varies.  Some women do have to deal with that on a daily basis, for others it's more sporadic.  Sometimes it's move overt and sometimes it's just some low level stuff that in a lot of cases doesn't get to you unless you really think about it.  But yeah in general, being a woman is a lot harder than it should be.

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StormySky

Depends on which country you live in. Most women in the first world only experience a few instances of jarring sexism, while in much of the third world, women are seen as property, not people, and living conditions and education opportunities are few if any.

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CBC

I have very little experience with that sort of thing and consider myself quite lucky in that regard, however it's definitely a reality that many women have faced, yes.

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Orianaro

I also have very little experience. I wouldn't be surprised if some ace people get less of that kind of attention, for me personally, I dress very conservatively and stay away from people like because they seem a little too focused on sex. I'm also only talking North America here, since I don't have experience anywhere else. In general, misogynistic abuse can be really, really subtle. Just seeing demeaning ads or media can irritate me, and oh my goodness social standards for women... in my opinion, most women play their gender with an extraordinary amount of grace and learn to overlook the little things, even when they start piling up. (And we have to deal with periods? Why, world, why?!) Admittedly, especially in the last year, work place abuse like this has gotten a lot better. It used to be that oh hey, my coworker made a lewd comment, or consistently stares a little too long or did they just touch...?! And women were expected to just suck it up and deal with it politely. For the most part, that's not really tolerated anymore.

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knittinghistorian
1 hour ago, TheAP said:

I can't speak for other women, but I haven't dealt with it very much, if at all.

Me too! It baffles me a little, because it seems so statistically improbable. I have a fairly conventionally-attractive build, and I like to wear flattering clothes (also often relatively revealing, as I live in a hot climate). But I can’t remember ever being catcalled. My hypothesis is that either 1) I actually have been catcalled or hit on, but didn’t notice or 2) I exude some sort of air of aro/aceness that acts as a force field.

 

All that said, I do still have to deal with the “don’t be out alone after dark” thing and the “be aware at all times of my surroundings” thing and the constant low-level paranoia of “am I safe in this situation?”

 

I’ll know that women’s rights are in a good place when I can go for a run outside at night without worry.

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Nowhere Girl

I encounter situations such as catcalling and other sexual microaggressions very rarely. I do think that it's related to my appearance - I'm fat, big (not tall, just stocky), I suffer from visible allergy and I'm not very girly. My preference is to take more care of my health while remaining sexually unattractive - for example, having "unwomanly" visible muscles, so in general I can say that my strategy is working. But still I believe that sexual harassment isn't just provoked by a woman's attractive appearance. Sometimes a woman is dressed very "modestly", is even rather ugly and is still harassed because sometimes it's about power, not sex.

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SilentRose

I have gotten catcalled a number of times, and there is a feeling where your heart races a little, as girls we're taught to be careful around men and I know deep down any man, even a small one, could likely take me out. Nothing horrible like daily workplace harrasment has happened to me, thank goodness. And I don't think I've ever been discriminated by a school or employer or anything on basis of my gender. 

 

However, every woman's experience is different. As a white, educated American woman my experience would be a lot different than a poor minority woman, or women in other countries. I would never make a general statement about how bad women have it, because I'm privileged in a lot of ways. However, I think the thing we can all agree upon is that we still have a long way to go when it comes to treating women with respect and dignity. 

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SunflowerKit

I have been sexualized since age 8, when my mom told me to change out of my tights because her friends were looking at my butt. I was told from a young age not to go out at any time of day by myself. I get catcalled on a fairly regular bases when I go out and it scares the shit out of me. I've also been followed before, and been asked really personal questions by strangers who are men. I work in customer service and men have made sexual comments about me before, as well as just talking down to me and calling me petnames. I have had men approach me on dating sites or sites like Fetlife, with the sole intention of fucking me, and if I'm not down, they leave. I've been abused sexually, twice, from a young age. Men often assume they can touch me or say whatever they want to me, simply because I'm a woman.

I would say, yes, it really is that hard out there for women, even if you live in a first world country. And the less privileges you have as a woman (i.e. being POC, mentally ill, trans, queer, etc.) the worse it gets. We can't say "no" to men at clubs without getting harassed, or worse, killed. We have to worry every time we walk alone on the streets. We are judged by society no matter what we do or how we look. And we are taught from an early age just how dangerous men are.

This might not be the experience of every woman, but it is the experience of most women. And that is why feminism is a thing.

 

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Pixley

I deal with it sporadically, whether I’m dressed nice or dressed in sweats and a raggedy tank top.

 

And now more recently, as a genderfluid AFAB, whether I’m dressed as a man or as a woman, which definitely sucks more, since there’s nothing like being objectified and misgendered AT THE SAME

TIME. 😤

 

I’ve gotten incidents of cheesy pick-up lines, to guys blatantly saying I’m attractive and immediately wondering what my relationship status is, being mistaken for a prostitute (and guys attempting to solicit my services), and even being followed by guys in their cars while I was out walking. 

 

It just freaking wrecks me when it happens, since I know I’ll be obsessing over it for the rest of the night.

 

And every time this kind of stuff happens, it scares the living crap out of me. Like a lot of people on here, I get nervous and shaky because I’ve been taught that men are dangerous and that I’m defenseless without mace when I go out for a walk around my neighborhood. 

 

So, I’m polite (because I don’t feel confident I could win in a physical confrontation with them) and hope that they just leave me alone (even though I actually want to tell them to go fuck themselves instead).

 

So yeah, unfortunately, being female is kind of as terrible as it seems, if not MORE SO.

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paperbackreader

I don't buy stipulated gender roles either for men or women - so I'm probably not a good person to ask... (don't shoot me too please!) 

 

Generally, as others have already identified: 

Most people love being in control / power. Some people in high places, feel it is acceptable / their birthright to exercise power in the way that they do, at the expense of other people's wellbeing / liberties / freedoms. Other people exercise control / power by taking a more collaborative approach. I would say that some women in high places would do the same, it's just that it's rarer to find at this point in time, hence no reports... 

 

Some do it for personal gain, others for greater good. IMHO Weinstein thought he was doing it for both - scratch my back by fulfilling my wishes and I'll scratch yours by fulfilling yours (giving you a good career). The problems started when he felt rejected and translated that to people don't get a choice to say no. 

 

On the subject of misogyny: 

Did you listen to Inside Science on Radio 4 yesterday? They were celebrating their discovery about the double helix and I think the observation the presenter made was brilliant (if the guy had been taking notes of the lady's numbers in her presentation, rather than observing whether he would want a kiss from her if she had a bit of make up on, he would have been the first to make the breakthrough about the double helix structure). 

 

Misogyny of this sort annoys me a lot because it means that the work of up to 50% of the population is dismissed / overlooked in some people's minds for no good reason. Frankly, that's not a very productive way to run society, and unfair to everyone, not just women. 

 

On the subject of propositioning / expressing interest: 

I think on a historical cultural perspective, society expects men to put their first foot forward in terms of expressing an interest, and culturally there has been shifts as to the acceptable way to express interest. Go through the generations and you will find that some women see catcalling as being 'admired' and something they secretly enjoyed, and others see it as being misogynistic and sexualised... Having thought about it a bit more from an ethics perspective, I don't really have a problem with people catcalling because they may just be stuck in a different 'acceptable timeline'. What I do have a significant problem with is people having a problem with women saying 'no, don't do that please, I find that rude' and the judgments associated with that. 

 

When the Weinstein scandal was coming out, there were all sorts of things being dug out about the UK Parliament. Pats on knees / shoulders, propositioning texts... Taken alone, I don't think that's 'misogyny' - unprofessional, yes. What annoys me a lot is people taking advantage of their position of power to make people say yes. That's not ok. 

 

If people want to express feelings / desires, they should be allowed to do so, so long as they don't cross the criminal boundary. Whether their choices of how is tasteful or not, is something that will vary from generation to generation and (to me at least,) more easily forgivable. But people who do so should also come prepared for rejection, and accept the potential damage to their ego without bitterness, or retribution or circumventing that by playing unfair and using their position of power to make them feel better about themselves. And people who do express rejection should be freely allowed to do so without consequence.

 

Of course I speak from a robot / logical view - emotions of humans are fickle...

 

I don't know if anyone else has experienced it, but I have found that the focus of the media on the Weinstein scandal (et all) has caused a lot of men to express feelings that they have been targeted, curtailed, cagey and discriminated against - as if all men are to be blamed for the wrongdoings of a minority of men - and also feeling very insecure about what is now acceptable to say / express. Personally, I feel that this impact is negative to some men, and tends to be more negative to those who don't appear to have had the same transgressions. But I'm also glad that it's now out in the open because misusing power, however it is done, should not be made acceptable. 

 

I guess from both gender's perspective, it is important to feel safe to be who they are, validated and to be able to get what they want. We just need a little more constructive dialogue as to how to allow both genders the space to be who they are without feeling like it's the impingement of freedoms / assault on their being either way... 

 

(Not going to explore the cultural difference between countries, because that will just become PhD thesis length)

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Ashara

For me no. I don't find it hard, I honestly think it's more difficult to he male but maybe as I look like a small boy instead of a "woman." I haven't had much to deal with. Maybe if I were in another religion it would be hard as I've seen my family under it suffer.

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Cat-a-tat-tat

I've been affected by it about every month but that might also have to do with where I live... Just the other day, there was this hateful man attempting public speaking (I've ranted about him on AVEN before) and he said that "any women in a sports team is a lesbian who should quit and find a man to be strong and athletic for her" and such shit. Anything that comes out of his mouth is riddled with abuse and hatred for anything involving feminism or LGBTQ+. I go out of my way to avoid where he typically speaks when I know that he's there....

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Biblioromantic

To be fair, I'm white, solidly middle-class, and live in America. So I know my answers will be different than others, but here we go.

 

When I was in my early teens, my mom was a leader at our church congregation. She was often the last one to leave the church after a group activity and would sometimes have to go to our church building when no one was there to pick things up or drop them off, make copies, etc. It was a large building full of lots of small rooms with doors off a main, U-shaped hallway with a chapel and gym in the middle. Whenever she knew she would be alone at the church, she took me or one of my brothers with her. When I asked her about it, she said there was usually nothing to be afraid of and that people were generally good, but women sometimes had to be careful because we are generally physically smaller and weaker than men. We have to take care of ourselves, and that means being more aware of what's going on around us. That was my first experience with gender inequality.

 

When I was 17 or so, I got my first real job working at Mrs. Fields, a cookie bakery located at the local mall. I was really outgoing and excited to be making money for myself and saving for college. The owner of the franchise was a middle-aged male, and my coworkers and I generally all got along and had a good time together. What I do remember is that my boss slowly became more handsy with me. Touches to my shoulder and upper arm when moving past me became grasping me around the waist. Instead of scheduling me to close with another coworker, he started staying later himself. It all came to a head one night in the back room. He closed the door as he came in, which he'd never done before. I was rummaging around in one of the freezers (It was like a standard refrigerator, not one of those walk-ins). He put his hands around my waist on my lower abdomen and just stood behind me, pressing against me and not moving. I could feel his nose and breath on my ear. It took me a second to realize what was happening, and then I moved to the side to get away from him, feeling very afraid but not knowing how to react or what to say. I had moved toward the door, luckily, so I went back to the front through the door where at least I could see other people clearing out as the mall closed. He stayed back there for a few minutes, which gave me time to find my balance and start cleaning things up for the end of the day. I finished out my shift, but I didn't enter that back room again. When I got home, I told my dad what had happened. He had me write it all down, and he asked me what I wanted to do. We talked for a few minutes about getting me legal representation, but I was scared and decided it wasn't worth it for my minimum-wage job. Then he helped me write my resignation letter. We mailed it and my key back to the store via certified mail. I received my last check a week later by mail, and I never went back. Now that I've had several other jobs and received proper sexual harassment training, I recognize that the harassment started within my first couple of days. My boss should have never touched me at all, period. But he took advantage of my naivety and got away with it.

 

A couple of years later, I spent 18 months volunteering as a missionary for my church in the southern US. I spoke Spanish and worked almost exclusively with people from latin countries. I saw the latin brand of machismo, a dominance over the feminine to a greater or lesser extent. This was eye-opening for me, as my parents had a pretty egalitarian marriage. For the first time, I saw married (and unmarried) women who had none of their own money or possessions, no say in anything at all, no way to get out, and were raising their own children to live the same way. Not all latin families were this way, not even the majority. But some were. I saw this machismo outside of the home as well. I can't tell you the number of times I was catcalled or called insulting, diminutive names by men of all races (black, latino, and white), even though I always dressed modestly, was never alone, and was always home just after dark due to the neighborhoods I worked in. And then I would turn around or draw attention to my big, black name tag or mention that I was a missionary, and they usually immediately apologized. They felt bad because I was a missionary, not because I was female.

 

When I was in college, I remember feeling generally pretty safe except for when it was late and I was alone. I had looked up the statistics and knew my university was generally safe, but there had been rape cases on campus within the previous couple years, as with all college campuses. I always parked under a streetlight, even when it was further to where I was going. I went out of my way to walk in well-lit areas with a clearer line of sight and past those campus safety things where you can press the button and they immediately send the police to you. I never wore headphones and tried to keep my hands free and eyes on what was around me at all times. When I stayed at the campus library until closing time (midnight or 1am or something like that), I would call the free shuttle bus to come get me at the library's back door, and they would take me right to my car and drop me off there, no matter where I parked on campus. When I was walking alone at night, I would walk quickly and carry my keys spaced out in between my fingers so I had a weapon. But the truth is I shouldn't have needed to do any of those things. I shouldn't have felt the need to be afraid. None of my male friends practiced any of those same behaviors on a regular basis. They felt confident they wouldn't be attacked or that if they were, they could defend themselves adequately.

 

As a young adult, I enjoyed dating. I did some online dating as well as meeting some men the traditional way through mutual friends and acquaintances. I tried to group date as much as possible. Once I moved out of my parents' house, I never let men pick me up at home and always met them at public locations except when I knew them in person beforehand and felt comfortable with them already. When they did pick me up at home, I made sure a roommate or friend was there when he picked me up. If that wasn't possible, I made sure that someone knew where I was and who I was with, and we made arrangements in advance for me to call them when I got home. If my date and I changed where we were going, I texted my friend where we were going instead. I don't know of any men who go to such extremes to be safe when dating women.

 

In my daily life now, I'm much more aware of sexual harassment than probably most people. I worked for a while in human resources and saw a harassment complaint by another employee and how it was properly handled. I know what the law says and what it doesn't. When I change jobs, I make sure to look up the employee handbook. I make sure my workplace has the proper updated legal notifications for employees posted in the break room. While I am pretty friendly and go out of my way to help others, I don't touch people at work, and I don't let them touch me outside of a handshake. I watch how I dress and what I say. Perhaps most importantly, I make sure I speak up when I see something inappropriate. I would expect the same from everyone, but I know it's not always true.

 

I have never not been female, so it's hard for me to judge. I would suspect that I am more aware of these issues than others, but my history has been what made me aware of them in the first place.

 

The truth is that statistically most women will experience some form of sexual harassment or gender inequality in her lifetime. In fact, most women know someone personally who has been the victim of sexual harassment or gender inequality, whether they know the story of that experience or not. Statistically, women in service positions (waitresses, bartenders, stylists, nail technicians, etc.) face the most harassment and have a less likely chance of getting any kind of help or affecting change or even being taken seriously when they report it. That's just not the case for men.

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paperbackreader

Thanks for sharing your story @Biblioromantic, it sounds really frightening for you. It must be hard that you feel like you have to be on guard all the time, but I'm glad you got away safely and enjoy dating. 

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hopeisnotlost

Again as others point out it depends on the person how much misogyny they experience.I'm non-binary but I'm perceived as female and was assigned female at birth.One early memory I've had when younger was wearing a dress and some classmate tried to look up the bottom of my dress.Another memory was sitting on the bus and a guy pulled me underneath the chair and right in front of them and they started kissing me  and tried to pull my pants down.Manage to fight them off but that's not an experience I want repeated.I hear both sexual and sexist comments  quite often almost once a week.Like a few weeks ago my sister told me  if I don't keep my grades up the only thing I'll be good for is barefoot and pregnant.My aunt replied with "no not even that I'll  spreading my legs for a living."Or today even-A friend of mine was talking to her boyfriend and he looked at her and said "We're over."She asked him why and he responded you know exactly why.She was like  but I don't.He said he got what he wanted. As it turns out he was playing an act so the students wouldn't tell his mom he was dating but I heard of guys using a woman just for sex and breaking up afterwards for real. I broke up with a guy once because he kept pressuring me for sex and I wasn't ready and I felt that's all he wanted. But I will say this: It's a lot better here in North carolina then in other places in the world.

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InariYana

Since I was about 13 these things happened to me: 

 

- I had my butt grabbed many times on the public transport, in a few different countries (the worse probably being Italy)

- when I failed my 1st driving test the instructor switched off the camera and suggested we could "do something about it" pointing at his crotch and smirking

- catcalled innumerable times, heard "smile... f***ing b***", "come on, shake my hand and suck my d***", a guy once followed me in the street mumbling "heeey, give me your phone number sexy, I'm gonna find you anyway... heeey" 

- a guy tried to assault me when I was coming back from a night of dancing, pushed me against the wall... he got a strong knee-in-the-nuts and I ran away 

- I was stalked by someone, who was leaving notes and gifts all over the place, he found out where I lived, where I studied... 

 

I could find more memories like that :/ luckily nothing of this sort ever happened to me at work. 

 

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Ousel

I mean, there are stats...  https://www.rainn.org/statistics/victims-sexual-violence   ...and it's worse for women of color and trans women.  

 

As for individual experience. I was briefly stalked by a man when I was 13. Cat calling and other street harassment seems to be on the decline in my experience. I've been grabbed in public. When I applied for a job out of college the man interviewing me told me that they don't usually hire women because they leave to go to school again or have babies. I've been assaulted in situations that were advertised as safe, or "just friends and family". And I'm one of the lucky ones, for sure. 

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Perspektiv

Definitely harder to be a woman, in my opinion.

 

Misogyny is by far, one of the oldest forms of prejudice on our planet. Not only this, its one of the most accepted. The me too movement has put a dent into this, but to me this is superficial in nature.

 

The power struggle is still there. The social pressures are still there.

 

Many women still fear speaking up, around the world. Some for things considered rights to many in western nations.

 

This isn't even touching base on the social pressures.

 

The beauty standards are unrealistic. If you can have a skinny woman feel fat, or one in her 40's feel old, you're doing something wrong with the standards you're imposing. This, along with feeling she needs makeup, to be beautiful.

 

The worst of which, being what the me too movement is still trying to combat, that if she doesn't sleep with men, none will want to be with her.

 

Obviously men undergo the same pressures with regards to this, however the consequences for women have always been far more severe.

 

Once a man can get pregnant, and get ditched will they be able to compare.

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Goonie

It depends on the female, their location, and also the field they work in. 

 

Sometimes it's easier than others. I get guys who take my friendliness or want to help (especially those older than me) as a come hither sign. Once went to help a guy who caught me in the parking lot. He groped my chest. I ended the conversation, went into the store, and was hyper aware of where he was at all times, and made sure I got in and out without running into him anywhere. Then made sure he wasn't following my car. Then there are the occasional cat calls.

 

I end up being more aware of surroundings, am I parked under a light? What odd scenarios are going on around me? Has this person been abnormally following me around the store/school/work? Like biblioromantic said, there's always the back up plan...here's where I'm going, here's how long I will be, here's the code word if I need out of this meeting, if you don't hear from me by x time call xyz, if plans change you text that too. 

 

I think for the most part, women just have a mentally prepared different set of normal behavior they tolerate which is really really bad. Like They can touch here and here or get one free pass touching here but then it crosses a line. Oh they weren't that offensive when they were cat calling, I've had worse. I'm probably not explaining that very well either. 

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Sally

Yes, it's just as hard as it looks.  Older women have had more difficult experiences, but things still happen to younger women, so the culture hasn't completely changed, even in the US for white women.   It's much worse for women of color.  

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Serran

Can be. Ive been sexualized since I was little. At nine? I was walking out of a store and some old (grey hair) guy was staring and commented and his wife hit him. I developed very early, so I had 34B chest and looked a bit like a teen from a distance.

 

Even family wasnt safe, my brother and my dad both came onto me sexually... my brother forced the issue, my dad just creepily kissed my neck while holding me against him so i cut him out my life.

 

My ex when I was 15 had friends that were adults who tried to get me to have illegal sex on tape with one of them who was 25.

 

The assistant director for my college flirted and gawked at every girl in every play. 

 

I was running to class across campus one day and the security guard at college, who is supposed to be the person you go to if harassed, yelled across the lot "run for me some more !!!" Cause he was watching my breasts bounce.

 

I used to go to a cafe to eat, until the owner decided to start sitting in the booth with me to talk and literally never looking up from my chest. So annoying.

 

I was walking to work one day in my work clothes - tshirt and jeans - and two guys in a car decided to pull off the main road in front of my walking path to block me so they could ask me out. My coworkers came to the door cause they were scared the guys were gonna try to kidnap me. But I was able to just say im taken and go around. 

 

I walked into a store once and a guy that had been sitting outside followed me in, followed me around it and eventually came over to ask me out. I said no and he stayed hovering. But my at the time bf came in so i walked over and made a show of greeting him so the guy left after that.

 

I was walking in a market in England and some guy grabbed me. The women i was with laughed at my offense and said you get used to it. 

 

... i could go on but i think you get the idea...

 

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m&m

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