Sick of the Sleaziness

A few weeks ago I was walking down a street on my way to the gym wearing a pair of patterned leggings and a large hooded jacket. I passed a man who I would guess was roughly the same age as me whom I had never seen before. Upon seeing me he made a comment about my “nice” pants and then, as I had just passed him, I heard him mutter about my bum being “nice” too.

This is not the first time that a complete stranger has felt it is appropriate to comment on my body nor will it be the last. I imagine that, at some point in her life, every single woman out there has received unwanted comments about her body from a random guy who thought it was okay to make them.

I receive these comments with a mixture of feelings. They annoy me because the men who make them have no right to do so. They frustrate me because the same men do not seem to understand why they don’t have this right. They bore me because I’m regularly told the same things about my own body and, quite frankly, I am sick of it.

Most of the time I ignore these sleazy remarks but that day I decided to bite.

I turned around with a big fake smile on my face and, as innocently as I could, said “Oh, I’m sorry I missed that. What did you say?” This guy who had no problem whatsoever sexualising me 10 seconds beforehand turned bright red and stuttered that it did not matter. Now, I knew exactly what he said but I wanted to see if he would actually say it to my face rather than under his breath. I asked the douche again what he had said and after a little bit of coaxing on my part he admitted he had said “nice arse to go with them” (meaning my gym pants).
“Do you really think that’s an appropriate thing to say to a woman that you don’t know?” I asked him with my sickeningly sweet smile still plastered across my face. As I expected, he had no idea how to respond to this question and instead let out a stream of incoherent stuttering that he hoped would count as a sufficient explanation. It didn’t.

There and then I decided I would take one for the girls everywhere sick of men objectifying them. As it happened I was planning on running a few errands after the gym, however, after seeing which direction this guy was heading in I decided I would rearrange my plan for the day and do the errands first, resulting in me heading in the same direction as this guy.

I followed him. I trailed closely after him for a good 10 minutes all the while telling him why it is not appropriate for men to treat women like they are slabs of meat, however, if there was a brain in that head of his then it did not take this information in. In fact, I think he was probably too preoccupied with increasing his pace in a bid to get away from the crazy girl wittering about sexual equality to let what I was saying actually sink in.

My actions did not achieve anything but I certainly enjoyed watching him cringe. All I can hope is that in future, when he is about to make an unwanted comment to a woman he does not know, he will remember what happened last time and the fear of encountering another crazy bitch will deter him from doing so.

Image by Jake Stimpson via Flickr under this Creative Commons License.

 

The Shaving Stigma

Now that November is here, many men have decided to put the razor down in aid of ‘Movember.’ Over the next few weeks we will be seeing an increase in facial hair as many men refuse to shave for one month in a bid to raise money for charity or simply have a bit of banter with friends.
‘Movember’ has been popular for a few years now and many have even joked that it will soon be followed with ‘Fanuary,’ a month where women do not shave their pubic hair, however this trend is yet to catch on.
When men mention that they are going to stop shaving nobody really bats an eyelid, however when a woman mentions she is going to stop removing body hair she is subjected to disgusted looks and insults. It just isn’t seen as socially acceptable for a woman to be hairy, but why?
Why is there so much pressure on women to remove their body hair? Over the years we have been conditioned to believe that it is fitting for women to be completely smooth and hairless and we have ridiculed those people who don’t adhere to this unspoken ‘rule.’
We are regularly exposed to advertisements where beautiful hair-free models seem to set the norm for what is acceptable for a woman’s body. We see images of porn stars whose perfectly waxed nether regions send out messages that ours should look like that too. We are expected to have long hair on our heads, beautiful eyelashes and eyebrows but no hair whatsoever, anywhere else.
Seems a little idealistic (and unfair) to me.
When exactly did body hair become deemed as masculine? I’m pretty certain that women in the 16th century had bigger things to worry about than a few day’s old stubble on their legs, so why don’t we? Why has shaving and plucking and bleaching and waxing become such a crucial, not to mention bloody time consuming, part of our beauty regime?
There is so much stigma surrounding female body hair and it is assumed that women who don’t shave are either lesbians, have poor hygiene or have something fundamentally wrong with them. It is just expected of us to be so frigging smooth and silky ALL THE TIME and society’s collective view towards hairy women only further demonstrates the pressure put on us to alter our bodies in order to fit with this ridiculous feminine ideal.

Image via IstoletheTV under this Creative Commons License.

The Next Generation of Muggers

As a woman who tends to walk most places alone, I always try to remain conscious of my surroundings and the people and cars that pass me by. I don’t use my earphones and I usually keep my phone tucked away if I see people ahead of me so they can’t snatch it out of my hand.

Some people may think this is being overly careful. I just think that I’m a realist.

Yesterday it was around quarter to six in the evening and already dark. I was walking home from the gym, (let’s face it – I don’t go anywhere else), when I saw a group of young teenagers, who I’d say were probably all around 13, up ahead walking towards me. Out of habit I popped my phone into my pocket and continued walking towards them without really giving it a second thought.

Upon seeing me, one of the boys in the group started walking really quickly towards me and when I stepped to the left to go around him he moved in front of me so I couldn’t pass. I then stepped to the other side to try and get around him and he followed suit. Now before you start thinking that this was one of those really awkward encounters with a stranger when you both step the same way to let the other pass, let me just say, it wasn’t. There was a delay in his movements and he was purposely moving in front of me to block my path.

The whole ridiculous facade ensued a second time and, by this point, I was ready to dropkick the little shit. I looked at him and he thrust his hand out towards me without speaking, indicating like he wanted something. Before I could stop them, my words came tumbling out and I just said “what the fuck are you doing?” in possibly the most aggressive way I’ve ever said anything. In my life.

I don’t make a habit of swearing at children by the way, but I wasn’t entirely sure if this one was trying to mug me or not, so I thought I would make an exception. Anyway, it seemed to do the trick and this kid dropped back and let me pass by, although he was sticking his middle finger up at me when I glanced backwards after I had passed by.

Is this seriously the next generation?

Luckily, I don’t really get intimated very easily. However, there are a lot of other people out there in the world who do. If I’m honest, I am pretty adamant that this teenager meant no harm and was just trying to show off and look cool in front of his friends, (most of the group were girls so I think he probably fancied one of them). However, that is not really the point I am trying to make.

If that had have happened to someone who is more vulnerable than I am, for example, someone who is elderly or had previously experienced a similar event, then that could have seriously had a negative impact on their life and deterred them from leaving their house out of fear.

I find it incredibly worrying that there are people out there,especially children, whose idea of fun is to purposely try to scare others when they out alone on a night. What kind of values are we teaching them?

Is Homosexuality Still Considered a Sin?

Despite recent societal advances, there is still a vast amount of hatred towards those individuals who identify as being gay, lesbian, or bisexual. A proportionate amount of this discrimination towards the LGBT community comes, quite surprisingly, from those who identify as being religious.
Now, I don’t want to paint the picture that all Church members go around bashing us gays on the heads with their bibles. I am fully aware that the lack of acceptance of the LGBT community is only demonstrated by a small group of religious people. However, it is unfortunate that the minority who show this lack of support towards those individuals who are homosexual seems to include some pretty influential people, the head of the Catholic Church being a prime example.
During a speech given at Capitol Hill at the end of last month, Pope Francis spoke of his concerns, “for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without.” He then went on to say that “fundamental relationships are being called into question,” causing many to conclude that his comments were a thinly veiled dig at the recent legalisation of same sex marriage across America.
This is not the first time that his comments on marriage have led to speculation that he does not accept same sex couples as, last November, he spoke of the “complementarity of man and woman” and emphasised that this was “at the root of marriage and family.” He concluded this talk by saying he hoped his words inspire those seeking, “to support and strengthen the union of man and woman in marriage,” showing a blatant disregard towards those same sex couples who wished to be wed.
Although, it could be argued that Pope Francis was simply talking about marriage in a more ‘traditional’ sense, it cannot be ignored that our society is now extremely diverse; therefore, looking at our culture in a ‘traditional’ way is extremely problematic.
The way in which the LGBT community were not acknowledged in these comments indicates a complete lack of support, and perhaps even a lack of acceptance, towards them as it seems to imply that, in his opinion, the sanctity of marriage should have remained a privilege available explicitly for heterosexual couples.
If the head of the Catholic Church can display what seems like complete ignorance towards the LGBT community and continues to refuse to even acknowledge their basic rights, then how can we expect those who look up to him to begin to support and accept those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans.
As long as these influential figures maintain a homophobic mindset, they are enabling those individuals who lead by their example to continue meeting the LGBT community with hostility and discrimination, using their religion as justification for doing so.