Is this really what teenage girls should expect to put up with?

(44 Posts)
marchart Wed 07-Aug-13 12:54:30

Dd is 15. She has a fair amount of freedom. Goes on shopping / cinema / day trips with friends. Always home well before dark.

This summer she has been inundated with really horrible male attention. A car with several young men has followed her for a hundred yards or so - calling for her to get in, only stopping when she reached home. On a train journey from Brighton to London with a friend, a middle aged man (with sad eyes, her description) sat opposite them, they were sitting one side of a small table, pulled his penis out and began masturbating. They got off the train, it hadn't even left the station.

Yesterday, on a bus, a guy yelled "oi blondie, come here, you're gorgeous" at her constantly. At the end of our road, just after she got off the bus, another man pulled his penis out and started waving it about.

Each time she has been with a friend.

She seems a mixture of "wtf" and angry. I have told her some men are just vile towards women when they think they can get away with it, and that it is wrong and horrid. But I want to make sure that I am giving her the right advice. For instance, for the man on the train, I said, instead of getting off the train you should have loudly shouted that he was masturbating in order to get peoples' attention. But I not sure what else to say. I am worried she will become worried about going out. I am worried that this is becoming the norm for her as a young woman. I am angry, really angry, that this is happening to a teenage girl. And sad.

Can anyone give me any advice please? Thankyou.

cantreachmytoes Wed 07-Aug-13 15:21:22

I'm sad for her too and sad that not much has changed since I was that age (only difference was that I got groped a lot - mahoosive boobs - and no willy wavers, they came later).

I think your advice about the masturbater was right as she was in a crowded place (guessing the train wasn't empty). If she and her friend were alone then getting off would have been safer I think.

As for the guys in the car, that can be really scary.

Maybe someone will be along who knows professionally about these things, but given how much CCTV we have, the car incident may have been captured. Is that something police can get involved in? Same with the willy waver at the end of the street.

My own experience - in hindsight - was that I knew these guys were freaks, but because it a) happened frequently and b) nobody ever seemed shocked by it (adults) I just thought it was kind of normal and that I was somehow attracting it. It did impact my expectations from men, not drastically, but the bar of what I deemed acceptable was definitely lowered.

My mother, for another reason, bought me a personal alarm. This was not useful: I didn't feel more empowered by it in the least.

What would have redressed the power balance (because that's what it's all about for the men) is if I'd known that IF I were attacked, I could have had an idea of how to handle myself. A good self-defence course - especially the Israeli one (forgotten its name) - would have helped that.

Sorry that your daughter is having these things happen and with any luck someone who really knows about how best to deal with this sort of thing will be along.

marchart Wed 07-Aug-13 15:35:07

Thank you for your reply, cantreachmytoes.

Dd and her friend were on a crowded train, I think though that their first thought was to be safe, and that was fine.

It's interesting that you didn't find a personal alarm useful.

Dd has been trained in a marshal art, though not done it for several years. I think I will suggest a self defense course to her, that's a really good idea.

I was 15 in 1973 and it was exactly the same. I treated as a joke mostly, although I do remember a holiday in Italy being spoiled because I was groped all the time just walking down the street. I used to walk home after dark and I remember a flasher standing on a street corner. I never told my mother about any of it though.
Of course you don't want your DD to be harassed but it's definitely nothing new. Doesn't make it right and I don't think you can prevent it..
She needs to know how to keep safe and try to ignore. If she can't ignore she should pretend to ignore.

pombal Wed 07-Aug-13 17:23:36

I remember it being similar when I was 14 or 15 in the 80's.
Being shouted at from cars, breasts groped, propositioned by older men when out.

No willy waving though, that's new!

I seem to remember it stopped as I got older, say by about 20.

I think a lot of men choose to intimidate young women, they are less likely to stand up to them maybe???

I hate it and think it's deplorable. Your dd has dealt with it very well, but she shouldn't have to sad

ClassyAsALannister Wed 07-Aug-13 18:26:15

It happens to most women at some point I think.

Certainly happened to me! (Am only early 20s now). It stopped as I got older and obviously now I have DS with me most of the time and obviously look less like a deer in the headlights

I do think younger women are easier to intimidate & less sure of what they can do about it etc. I.e, nowadays I'd have called out the creep on the train but aged under 20, I'd have probably got off, like your DD.

TheCrackFox Wed 07-Aug-13 18:53:11

Happened to me from about 15-20yrs too.

"I think a lot of men choose to intimidate young women, they are less likely to stand up to them maybe???"

I completely agree with this statement. This sort of scum really enjoy bullying older girls/young women.

musicposy Wed 07-Aug-13 19:02:59

I was stood at the bus stop with DD2 a month or 2 ago. She's 13 - and tiny for 13. A passer by, if they were trying to give the oldest she could possibly be, would say 12 at most.
It was raining so I sat in the shelter. DD didn't seem bothered by the rain so was stood outside waiting to see the bus. It was about 4pm.

The number of men who, thinking she was alone, hooted from their cars or slowed down to a kerb crawl was both depressing and very scary. One old bloke of about 60 slowed to almost a stop. I got up and went out as I thought he was going to grab her. He sped off pretty damn fast when he saw me.

I want to give her indepenence but it does worry me. I want her to grow up empowered and confident, not having to deal with a pervert at every turn. sad

HamletsSister Wed 07-Aug-13 19:06:19

Photograph them and put on everyday sexism project? Get licence plates etc. May make no difference, but if everyone does this things will change.

LynetteScavo Wed 07-Aug-13 19:11:12

Wow! How awful for your DD!

I have had lots of unwanted attention when young but never a flasher or masterbaters shock sad

Have you contacted the police?

Other than that I have no advise. I was always very lame about these things. I certainly don't think it's a new thing, though.

Weirdly blondes with long hair seem to get more unwanted attention than brunettes. confused

This is one of the few things that give me the rage, my ex's (who I still live with) daughter is 18 and had several of these incidents over the last couple of years. The most recent being when some body tried to force himself on her when she was coming home one night a couple of months ago. I insisted we contact the police if only in the hope they might pick up a pattern, however I don't hold out much hope given the muppets who came out.

I wish I had advice that would help.

VenusRising Wed 07-Aug-13 19:32:24

She must carry a telephone with her and photograph / video the bastards.
Take pictures of the licence plates / remember them and note them down.

Go to the police with the evidence.

Your poor DD, I feel for her: the same happened to me, and I just hate male attention even now - they're such predatory wolves.

When i was 18 I got myself a rather big high status boyfriend, that stopped it for a bit: luckily for me he was a total gent too.
Maybe your DD needs a 'walker' to keep the dregs at bay?!

Please reinforce that she's not to uglify herself- she's done nothing to deserve being treated like an object: the men are wrong, not her.

TSSDNCOP Wed 07-Aug-13 19:40:31

Sounds less like a personal alarm and more like a very large pair of scissors are required to deter willy wagglers.

I am angry on her behalf, and can see this would be frightening for her and you.

Is there any kind of pattern, area etc she could pinpoint that would help the police if you called them.

The defence class sounds like an excellent idea.

StrangeGlue Wed 07-Aug-13 19:42:35

That's dire. I think it's important she knows, as you have told her, that it is not in anyway acceptable or normal (common maybe but not normal) and that it says a lot about the horrible specimens doing it abs nothing about her.

I think your shouting advice was good - wanking at teenagers in public is not legal!! And is utterly vile.

These people are commiting crimes by intimidating abs harassing her and she should be confident in getting the police involve.

Hugs to her!

Chottie Wed 07-Aug-13 20:25:50

This is awful and the sad thing is that it was happening to me in the 1970s and it is still happening now.

It's good that your DD has told you about it.

My niece was groped in a crowded train. She grapped the hand and held it up and told the owner in front of everyone to stop touching her up and keep his disgusting hands to himself.

Beer0Clock Wed 07-Aug-13 20:30:24

God nothing changes. All of these things happened to me too. I'm glad she could tell you. I wouldn't have brought it up with my mother.

Like chottie, I would tell my daughter to yell "get your disgusting hands off me you filthy pervert". or "stop masturbating on the train".

Beer0Clock Wed 07-Aug-13 20:33:41

If my old flatmate is on mumsnet she will know who I am, but we were flashed at in Malta and we chased him and he ran towards the beach and we threw stones at him. My old flat mate was shouting at him "it's tiny you sad wanka". She had chutzpah that girl. I wouldn't have had the balls on my own. But when I think of that now I laugh. But when I think of the time I had to make a phonecall in a telephone box and turned around to see a man wanking I shudder and feel like I was used. I know chasing a flasher mightn't seem like a sensible idea but I have filed it differently in my brain. It's not a memory that makes me shudder.

Mumzy Wed 07-Aug-13 21:56:48

When I was 16 we had a police woman come into school to teach us how to deal with sexual harassment. The main thing which stays in my mind is she told us to publicly shame the perverts. If someone is groping you was to grab their hand and raise it in the air and shout loudly to attract attention. The other ting she encouraged us to do was attend women's self defence classes

AnyFucker Wed 07-Aug-13 22:01:34

She should not have to put up with it, absolutely no way

But I am afraid the objectification of women starts very early and this is how it goes

I expect she will get some relief from it once she hits 40 or so, when women become virtually invisible

This is our woman-hating society. I expect someone will blame her for the negative attention she has received, because she is pretty and wears nice clothes or summat

< having a despondent evening, sorry >

LynetteScavo Thu 08-Aug-13 12:06:01

Just to give you all a bit of hope, I was whistled last year, which I obviously ignored. I then heard the mans friends say "You shouldn't do that. Women don't like it." So maybe we are getting somewhere. [hopeful]

PaleHousewifeOfCumbriaCounty Thu 08-Aug-13 12:10:08

This is really sad sad
Why do almost all women have a tale to tell?

marchart Thu 08-Aug-13 12:40:48

Thank you all for the replies.

To be honest, it's a depressing read. But it has given me some thoughts of possible ways forward.

I am going to contact dd's head of year at school, explain the situation, and ask if a police officer can visit the school and give some advice about what to do in this sort of situation. I don't want to advise dd to take photos etc if the police suggest that this could actually put her in danger. I am also to encourage her again to be far more vocal next time this happens to her.

I shall come back and update this thread. Thank you again.

Pachacuti Thu 08-Aug-13 20:34:47

But remember, everyone, we "don't really need feminism any more".

Encourage her to be angry. This behaviour is not OK and she doesn't need to put up with it.

mathanxiety Tue 13-Aug-13 06:30:34

What VenusRising said. Does she have a phone?

She needs to make it very obvious that she is taking photos and also photos of licence plates, and to make it obvious that she is calling someone to report right there and then.

I would be very worried that a car full of wankers now knows where she lives. If she could duck into a shop or some other place that would be safer than going straight home if this happens again.

When DD1 and DD2 were approached by creeps trying to lure them into cars (separate occasions) the police told them to use their phones and to shout 'I'm a minor' plus any other stuff they cared to shout. When perverts in cars are caught their defence is they had no idea the girl was a minor. So DD1 and DD2 were told to shout that they were minors. Neither one of them had enough presence of mind to whip out their phones and the police were disappointed they had no reliable vehicle description or plate number to run through their computer. Men in cars know what they are doing when they follow someone and lure them. Potential victims need to know what they should do too and should rehearse it and not be afraid of being loud.

Martial arts are absolutely no use and it should never get to the point where your DD has to be involved in any physical confrontation. She will lose against a fit young man no matter how good she is unless she is Olympic champion. Young men are simply a lot stronger than most teenage girls. Even older men are. Even older men with sad eyes and pathetic lives.

lrosemurray Sun 29-Sep-13 01:07:47

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

borninastorm Sun 29-Sep-13 01:28:24

In my younger years I was groped on a bus, rubbed up against on a packed train and had several willies waved at me.

I dealt with it by doing nothing until the final time a man waved his willy in my face. I was abroad with a girlfriend and he walked past us on a quiet road at night and stuck his hand up my skirt. I immediately faced up to him and shouted at him. Then I noticed he was wanking and that made me even madder. My friend was standing in the middle of the road screaming while I shouted over and over at this man to "get to fuck you stupid wanker". He ran off pretty quickly.

That's the one incident that doesn't bother me when I picture it.

So I've taught my DD who's 14 now to shout and shame in any situation like that. I've told her if she's in a public place and a man gropes her to shout at him "did you mean to grope my boob/arse, etc?". If a man waves his willy at her in a public place where there are other people to point it out to everybody as loudly as possible.

However if she is ever alone in any of these situations I have told her to run away cos that's what the police advised us all to do when I went on a self defence course.

And now I'm going to tell her to use her phone to obviously take pictures or video them.

It is so wrong that our daughter's still experience this.

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Sun 29-Sep-13 06:43:57

My usual put down when I saw a willy on display was 'God,I've never realised how small they were'

Iheartcrunchiebars Sun 29-Sep-13 06:58:09

The police told me once that they take any case of flashing incredibly seriously as most rapists start off as flashers. So definitely tell the police. (And also remember that if you get flashed alone and somewhere not in public).

I think your reaction alone will have helped your daughter. I know people who've told their parents only to be told not to tell anyone and made to feel like its their fault and its had a serious impact on their lives.

It's about time people saw flashers as sex offenders and not in this wierd jokey way. It's refreshing to hear what people on this thread this as most people I know seem to treat it as a joke.

satsumagirl Sun 29-Sep-13 07:00:29

Self defence course is a great idea. It'll give your daughter confidence. On a similar note, is there some kind of assertiveness course for teenage girls? Anything that makes her feel more confident and that she can handle herself will have a positive effect here. smile

Bloody perverts. I remember loads of things like this happening to me as a teenager. To the pervs I say 'jog on, bozos.'

TwllBach Sun 29-Sep-13 07:17:20

Oh it's so depressing. I was a teenager not so long ago and it happened to me too. It made me sad ad nervous and scared and self conscious back then, but it makes me livid now. How fucking dare they??

I wonder if your dd might benefit from seeing this thread? Certainly for me, I've benefitted over the last few years from reading mn threads along similar lines because it taught me it wasn't my fault and I wasn't alone.

Jenny70 Sun 29-Sep-13 07:26:08

Another with a me too tale, and not blonde or slim... I completely ignored it. when I told my mum (now 75) she had it too as a young girl, maybe 12, - she told them they had a small dick and laughed at them! The police were most amazed at her front!

curlew Sun 29-Sep-13 07:49:08

I have a teen girl and this happens to her too. She's a red head which makes her a double target.

I'm going to go against the tide and say I don't think they should shout "fuck off" or "wanker" or anything like that. For a lot of reasons, some practical, some less so. Firstly, if it doesn't work, and the situation escalates, which it probably won't, but might, she is less likely to get support or help from others if she is perceived to be aggressive- sad, but true. Secondly, it's hard to shout things like that confidently if you're not used to doing it, and this is not the time to discover that it makes her cry or giggle because she's nervous. And thirdly, on the grounds of not letting other people make you behave in ways you don't want to. Why should the fact that a man is being a bastard make you shout swear words in public when you wouldn't normally?

I think you have to be super confident to rely on being able to "name and shame" and I don't think most 15 year olds are. Sadly, once you are confident enough to do that sort of thing you don't get the opportunity to shame the bastards because they will have moved onto younger, more vulnerable women.

If she feels brave enough, a loud, clear "Please take your hands off me" is good for a groper. For the train incident, find the guard. And for people following in a car, take pictures, making sure you get the number plate and tell the police.

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Sun 29-Sep-13 07:54:32

Thank goodness the police take it seriously now. I am shocked by how many of you have experienced this behaviour, I had but not as much as a lot of you.
My DD does judo, hopefully that will be good self defence if she is ever unfortunate enough to need it.

TunipTheUnconquerable Sun 29-Sep-13 08:00:39

I was going to post same as Curlew.
I've heard too many stories of a whole carriage/bus full of people putting their heads down and completely ignoring women who try to name and shame, and then she ends up being more upset by the lack of help than by the flashing itself. Getting off the train was the right thing to do IMO, and I also agree that police are generally pretty good about flashers: I would think the best thing would be to either leave the carriage and find the guard, or get off the train and go to the police/people in charge at the station.
Once you're confident you can carry off shouting back in the face of no support it's more of an option.

SanityClause Sun 29-Sep-13 08:02:28

Can I suggest that people report these incidents to the Everyday Sexism Project

TunipTheUnconquerable Sun 29-Sep-13 08:07:09

I think it is very important to report it to the train company because they need to be made to acknowledge there is a problem with the behaviour of a few men making public transport feel unsafe for women.
It's in their interests to make it a safe space by making women aware that they will be supported if they report, and making the perpetrators realise won't be tolerated.

BadSeedsAddict Sun 29-Sep-13 08:13:18

It does sound like your daughter has been unlucky over a short space of time; really sorry you're having to go through this. I like the sound of martial arts and taking photos of license plates, shouting "I'm a minor" and so on. I remember having plenty of hassle when I was younger, and nobody having spoken to me about what to do about it. It's great that she's able to come to you about this and that you are getting help for her. I have two young DDs and this thread has made me really think about how they are likely to be treated when they get older, and what they need to know about how to handle it.

magicstars Sun 29-Sep-13 08:23:20

Your poor dd, this kind of treatment is horrible. I was flashed at several times (5+) between the ages of 14& 21. I still cringe at the thought of a grown man making comments about my boobs when I was about 15 and out shopping with my dad. They would pretend to think I was older than I was making it 'ok'. I was regularly shouted at and abused in the street when living in France for a year as a student. Groped, trapped in a toilet, a man tried to hit me in a shop when I told him where to go etc...
I took to really covering myself up and avoiding eye contact with men When out and wearing a (fake) wedding ring helped.
It could be an unfortunate knock on effect of the stereotypical porn actress look- young, blonde with big boobs. Some men want to believe that all young women who look vaguely like that are, in their mind 'sluts' confused
She just needs to be very assertive with them and conscious of her safety, sticking with friends when out.

OddBoots Sun 29-Sep-13 08:44:48

Please tell her and anyone else that the British Transport Police are specifically targeting this criminal behaviour under Project Guardian. If it is reported they will check CCTV and aim to get a prosecution.


Wishfulmakeupping Sun 29-Sep-13 08:59:08

Your poor dd hope she's not too shaken up.
I remember being really scared when I was flashed I was about 16 and was walking to my friends house at teatime. I was just frozen didn't shout I didn't know what to do luckily another man came round the corner and although he couldn't see what was happening he could see my expression and shouted up the road 'are you ok luv' and the pervert ran off. Wish I'd reported him now but I didn't feel like I could but worry he's done it to other girls since.
When I told my friends about it they all had similar experiences esp on public transport.
Hope your dd is ok

valiumredhead Sun 29-Sep-13 09:29:34

Sounds the same a my teenage yearssad

flow4 Sun 29-Sep-13 10:34:07

It's excellent that your DD's reaction is "a mixture of 'wtf' and anger", and not fear; that's exactly as it should be. Good for her, and good for you for helping her grow up with that sort of self-confidence. smile

This kind of behaviour is not a display of male power, IMO; it's a display of powerlessness. Inadequate men are, and always have been, threatened by women's confidence and beauty. Men like this harass women because they hope to get a reaction of fear or shame that will 'big them up' and make them feel more powerful, or at least less powerless. Wankers (sic) pick on young or otherwise-vulnerable women/girls because they think they're less likely to have the confidence to rebuff them, and more likely to give them the sort of reaction that will 'big them up'.

One of the most useful things for any woman or girl to remember in these sorts of situations, IMO, is that, for him, it's all about his own feelings of powerlessness, not hers. As soon as a man like this realises you're not going to give him a reaction that makes him feel better about himself, he'll move on.

Put-downs work if you know you are and will be physically safe. My mum's friend once said "Hmm, that looks like a prick, only smaller"! But ime you have to be careful about making inadequate men feel more inadequate, because sometimes they'll then attack.

Shaming works in crowded places, if you have the self-confidence to do it. I once made a groper run back down a crowded up escalator by turning on him and shouting "How dare you? Keep your dirty hands to yourself!"

I wouldn't recommend taking photos, personally. Firstly because stopping and obscuring your own eyes with a phone/camera potentially makes you more vulnerable, and secondly because you are giving the man positive attention and potentially 'bigging him up', which is what he wants.

IMO, ignoring is very often the best tactic, or treating his behaviour as if it's beyond the pale - the equivalent of "Did you mean to be so rude?!" These are, in effect, nasty little boys who haven't grown up, who use penises, words and whistling instead of worms to try to make girls scream. They need to be taken seriously because they're now big and strong enough to be dangerous; but it is always worth remembering that whistling, words and willies are in themselves no more dangerous than worms!

MarshaBrady Sun 29-Sep-13 10:36:08

That is horrible your poor dd. I think the best thinking is wtf? I remember a few sessions of feminism at university helped me and my friends very much.

It was a constant barrage. But wth? with all the penis waving. That is disgusting. We didn't get that, just verbal harrassment.

EdBird Sun 29-Sep-13 12:56:29

As a teen in the 80's, I was flashed at, had a man trying to watch me wee through through a grill in a train toilet (I kicked it towards hhis face really hard and he just laughed), probs about 5 men masturbating/willy waving at me, groped in swimming pools, groped one evening on the street (later a sexual assault there that night. I wonder...), mauled by lecturer in college, followed into and chased from taxi by stranger (taxi driver stalled him enough for me to run and hide behind some bins), chased down round at 13 by 3 boys (scary that) Probs other incidents not coming to mind too.
I wouldnt advocate anything other than not reacting and moving away unless in a vulnerable situation when shouting may help or just running anywhere for safety - thinking about it, two occassions when went up to unknown front door and knocked and spoke to householder until creep gone
Same old I am afraid :/

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