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Coming to terms with what (some) men do to women

(30 Posts)
Fantome Sun 02-Oct-16 10:13:47

Not sure if this is the right place so hope it's ok starting this thread. I'm 16, and for a while have been quite angry and upset about rampant misogyny, the various aspects of sexism women and girls suffer from and how prevalent it is. Last week's attack in Oxford has increased this tenfold, it's just so hideous and I can't think of much else other than what the girl must have gone through, for hours, it's absolutely horrific. Hope it doesn't seem like I'm feeling sorry for myself, she is the victim and it's about her not me. I was just wondering if it was alright to ask how women here learnt to deal with or cope with knowing all this goes on in the world, not just the fear of it happening to you, more the rage it causes knowing it's happened to other girls and women.

I know men and boys are also victims of horrible things but this is specifically about gendered violence which is in my opinion a manifestation of violent misogynistic feeling. I also hope it's ok me starting a thread like this.

JacquettaWoodville Sun 02-Oct-16 10:20:03

Fine to start a thread. Feeling the rage is important!

Would raising money for Rape Crisis or a woman's refuge help you feel a part of change/support? What is your school like on sexism issues?

Fantome Sun 02-Oct-16 10:27:58

Thank you Jacquetta! Doing something to support Rape Crisis is a great idea. It would bring something positive out of the feelings. I'm lucky with my school, it's a girls' school and whilst feminism isn't the biggest issue to the school itself, and violence against women is only really discussed in terms of trying to keep yourself safe, it's still a nice environment to be in! I just feel so angry and upset, I can think of so many awful incidents and the attack last week has really got to me. Though I hate I'm thinking in terms of it making ME upset as it's not about me. Maybe it's naive but I hate we live in a world this happens, just going to school, how can men do that angry

JacquettaWoodville Sun 02-Oct-16 10:34:39


Don't feel bad for feeling upset when you weren't the victim of the assault. We all live in this world where VAWG is a huge issue and we are all overwhelmed by it from time to time.

TheVirginQueen Sun 02-Oct-16 10:37:24

Some your own age may 'pity' you your awareness. But, I envy you that you see things so clearly at just sixteen. You won't end up being a people-pleasing, man-pleasing girly til you emerge with two dependants and no salary! actually, I saw it long before I was cornered right in to the corner but what I mean is, you will make good decisions. But try not to make sure that you tread the line between action and awareness and good choices.

I wouldn't like to think of any sixteen year old so disillusioned with society that they feel anger :-( You have enough power, and you can create a good life and influence effect the lives of others with your choices and 'campaigns'

Fantome Sun 02-Oct-16 10:45:01

Thank you. TheVirginQueen, I think that might be the case, I have lovely friends but I feel they get brought down when I talk about this too much which is fair enough if they want to be having fun but can be a bit frustrating. I suppose I'll learn to deal with it better but it won't pass for all the girls and women who are atracked. The girl in Oxford, 14, happily walking to school one morning, life utterly shattered now. An attack on all girls and women in the sense of the utter misogyny inherent in these attackers, she was nothing to them, no care whatsoever about what they were doing to a child, planned, calculated to harm a girl. I'm rambling but just horrible, the suggestion of channeling it into something positive for a charity is really good.

TheVirginQueen Sun 02-Oct-16 10:52:21

No, you're right, it is dreadful. My dd is that age and the initial horror upon reading it struck me like a chill, but I guess we all become inured to the various horrors out there. It's probably some evolutionary psychology self-protection thing, or we'd all literally go mad. I feel ashamed now, of how I put it out of my mind so quickly. But also, relieved.

Fantome Sun 02-Oct-16 11:02:44

I can understand that. I sort of do want to put it out of my mind but then feel bad because she can't, others who are attacked can't. Not that I'm saying it's wrong if you can, as you said you have to be able to. I suppose this hits home even more to me being someone so close to my age just walking to school in the morning. Sorry being a bit repetitive and just thinking out loud really!

JacquettaWoodville Sun 02-Oct-16 11:15:34

Again, it's completely understandable that the more like the victim you and/or friends or loved ones are, the more it hits home.

Years ago, a young woman in her first car was killed by a falling branch in high winds not far from where I lived; of course, a few people every year are killed by bad weather but that one hit home more.

Fantome Sun 02-Oct-16 11:21:10

It does. I do feel upset and chilled that something like this happens, but also rage for the girl attacked and what those men callously did, her life nothing to them. Rambling on I know but it's so sad. I should look into doing something for Rape Crisis or a women's charity.

FreshwaterSelkie Sun 02-Oct-16 15:38:45

I think it's absolutely fine to be angry, Fantome. In fact, I am fantastically impressed by someone your age seeing things so clearly, and I'm sending you some virtual fist bumps. When your eyes are first opened to injustice, particularly around your age (argh, there's no way to put that that doesn't sound patronising as hell, sorry), it is hard to unsee what you've seen, and it is hard to know what to do with it. I definitely second trying to get involved in some direct action to channel what you're feeling into some constructive outcomes. Are there any local women's groups you could join, or any online ones? How about some fundraising for women's shelters in your area?

Fantome Sun 02-Oct-16 16:13:59

Thank you FreshwaterSelkie! That's really nice of you to say and is much appreciated - it doesn't sound patronising at all either! It is horrible to become aware of some of the awful things which happen but at the same time I suppose you have to realise. This isn't the first time it's happened to me but last week's incident has really hammered it home and it's all I can think about at the moment. I will look into some local women's groups although I don't really know where to go, I'd like to post more about it online but on Twitter and Facebook it just usually ends up in being mocked or abused (not always but quite a lot of the boys my age I know mostly though others are quite anti feminist and make this very known, or just trolls generally). I'd love to find a safe online feminist community. It makes me feel a bit alone not knowing who to really talk to about this so I'm grateful for the replies here and it not being unwelcome. Fundraising for women's shelters in my area or a local Rape Crisis group would be brilliant.

Ledkr Sun 02-Oct-16 16:20:51

I feel the same and my dd who is 14 was in tears of utter rage and sorrow.
I could collapse with rage sometimes when I think about this thing that gets done to women just because a man chooses to and is stronger and more powerful and possesses a penis that can be used to hurt and humiliate us.
I feel wretched to have two daughters who have to live in this world.
I wonder about how we are raising our boys. Parents need to be having open conversations about misogyny and setting good examples to their children about acceptable behaviour.

Fantome Sun 02-Oct-16 16:41:24

I hope your daughter is alright Ledkr. I can empathise with her a lot, I've been the same, feel like crying quite a lot, keep reading the articles about it praying some progress is made catching them, thinking about what the girl had to go through and how she must have felt. It is enraging and so horrible. 14 and going to school. That two men went out with that plan, knowing what they were going to do, calculating and evil, is just chilling and, well, beyond words almost. Makes me feel so powerless. I do wish more boys cared about all this, maybe many do and I'm just unlucky with many I come across. I'm hoping my brothers at least will understand but I don't really feel able to discuss how I'm feeling with them.

StrangeIdeas Sun 02-Oct-16 17:31:10

My dd is 10 and I get so scared and angry about the the things she will have to deal with as she grows older. I feel for this poor girl so much. Hearing about this terrible attack sent a feeling of pure fear through me. My dd has not had any of the street harassment or casual sexism directed at her, she would be utterly bewildered by it. There seems to be an acceptance of sexism as 'it is just the way it is ' in our society which contributes to such horrible attacks. An acceptance that girls and women are 'lesser'. Even the phrases 'you throw like a girl' and 'you run like a girl '. So men like these attackers are conditioned to see women and girls as not worth anything so they can do what they want to them IYSWIM. I remember when I first recognised this misogyny when I was a teenager and it is a horrible feeling that you are not seen as equal to males, that your feelings don't matter, that you don't matter. We should be angry about this. I have started to talk to my dd about sexism, basically pointing out how ridiculous it is and how illogical it is. These attackers just did not care about what they were doing to this poor girl, only what they wanted mattered . They are evil, and our society allows them to be evil. We do need to be angry about this. Your awareness Fantome shows your good sense and your compassion. And it's much better to be angry than scared.

WomanActually Sun 02-Oct-16 17:47:19

I hope this comes out correctly and doesn't sound offensive.

My dd is 11 and she gets angry about the way women and girls are treated. She's much stronger than I and isn't afraid to speak her mind or point out inequalities when she sees them. I truly wish that she didn't have anything to be angered about, but I'm very proud of her for having the courage to not just go along with unfairness and standing up for herself, when I was younger I'd just try to not get myself noticed if that makes sense. I hope my dd still sees things as clearly as you do when she's your age and Into adulthood, i don't want her to be filled with anger and fear but I do want her to be aware.

It's difficult though because as well the oxford news, a 15 year old girl was raped in bushed on her way to school near here, a woman was raped on her way home from work in our town and not too long ago a 14 year of was followed home by a man in by mask and rope, poor girl knew he was following her and tried to stay in lit up areas and get home, he jumped on her and thankfully her screams brought people out of their homes and he ran away, I guess I'm saying I find it hard to reassure her that it's rare, when it seems to be happening more in our area.

Fantome Sun 02-Oct-16 18:22:28

StrangeIdeas - it is horrible. I also agree that casual sexism and misogyny is too accepted, the use of "girl" generally as an insult, general mocking of things deemed "girly" or "feminine" (yet girls/women also criticised for not confirming to what that's considered to be), rape jokes being accepted as "banter", street harassment (even some girls in my year have already accepted street harassment as inevitable), and I totally agree that whilst the Oxford attack is obviously far more serious and beyond abhorrent, all this contributes to a society which renders this more likely. These men have grown up with all this around, heard rape jokes being accepted, so much so they felt able to bring the very idea of doing this up with one another and agree to do it. To have such hatred for women and girls, no concern whatsoever for a young girl happily on her way to school. Thank you for your compliments to me, it means a lot! I wish no girls had to put up with any sexism but your daughter will be brilliantly equipped to and be empowered by learning about it in the right way if that makes sense early.

WomanActually thank you for your reply. Your daughter sounds amazing, already fighting sexism at 11! It's so difficult to and I understand why so many girls don't feel able to. You sort of want to fit in and not be known as the one complaining or objecting what might seem all the time.

I know attacks on women and girls are actually quite frequent, this one is even more extreme and has really got to me even more than usual but I know it seems not to be even as rare as might be made out (even if it being rare is of no comfort to the girl or her family anyway). I have been followed before, I know a couple of girls who've been flashed, again, nowhere near as awful as this but just much too commonplace. Not far from where I live a 14 year old girl was murdered a couple of years ago in broad daylight too. That made me really upset and angry at the time too and I've never really forgotten it, think about it a lot, I think the Oxford incident will be the same, but at the same time I don't want to forget...yet do. Horrible.

Fantome Sat 08-Oct-16 12:08:03

I still find myself unable to think of anything but the horrible case in Oxford. I wish I knew how to cope, wish I was stronger, wish I could make the world better for all girls and women, wish it never happened.

SweetGrapes Sun 09-Oct-16 10:37:21

While not exactly what you are discussing, the thing that helped me through crappy boyfriends (dumped them all) and teenage angst was a very clear sight from a very young age of the fact that I had to be earning my own living and not dependent on anybody if I wanted a life worth living. ( I grew up in another country where 'women murdered' was in the back pages of every newspaper every day - not important enough to make it to the headlines, common place enough to be happening everyday. Thankfully things have moved on since then - but still a lot of violence and deaths)

While earning potential doesn't help in a situation of violence directly, it does in terms of what choices I have, where I live, the hours that I work and the help that I can provide others (donations of time or money).

I was good at maths and am in a STEM related job earning a good deal of money. This one thing has changed my life and helps me help others much more than anything else I may have done or tried to do.

Studying in a girls school helped me to be myself and that included being good in maths. I was shocked at the competitiveness and 'pull down' type comments when I did my A level equivalent in a boys school - but by then I knew my strengths already so it didn't affect me the way it may have if I encountered it earlier.

Sorry if I am just rambling!!

Fantome Sun 09-Oct-16 12:31:43

Thank you for your reply SweetGrapes.

On the violence against women and girls issue, whilst I wouldn't compare here to the horrific situation where you grew up, I feel it is prevalent enough here to scare and really sadden me. There are so many instances of girls being attacked on their way too and from school - the Oxford case is most chilling but it's happening all over the country and mostly only making local news. Then I can think of so many women and girls murdered even in the last handful of years in this country purely for their sex. Joanna Yeates, Georgia Williams, Alice Gross, Karen Bradley, Kayleigh Heywood, India Chipchase, so many and it's so horrific. The recent Oxford incident and Alice a couple of years ago particularly got to me and make me so angry. It's not just the fear, in fact it's probably more anger at what has been done to them, for being girls, by men. Targeted gender violence, horrific misogyny,

I am definitely ambitious and luckily have a good role model with my mum, who has a very good job and inspires me, as well as going to a girls' school where STEM subjects are widely taken. I wish they weren't seen as off limits as they often are by girls in other schools, due to outdated stereotypes and gendered toys from a young age etc. I don't want my ambition to be limited but it's difficult when you see how much hatred there is, how many women and girls' lives are ruined or taken by misogyny.

Thank you very much for your reply!

SmellySphinx Sun 09-Oct-16 12:51:05

You come across as an extremely erudite young woman Fantome, at 16 it's very refreshing (I was no where near as intelligent as you at 16 and I feel probably still am not!)

I personally wish more men and boys would get involved with these issues and voice their support. Feminists often get ridiculed on social media - I've seen it - so I understand your frustration not knowing where to find or start a support network of some description online. Some of the comments are horrendous and because they're a faceless entity they say the most ridiculous things from behind the keypad. I think they often ridicule because they feel they cannot convey any kind of reasoned response/argument/thought and get involved or quite possibly see it as some kind of 'womans' club' that they are on the outskirts of...kind of ironic in some ways!

Also just to get a rise out of people!

Fantome Sun 09-Oct-16 13:12:48

Thank you very much SmellySphinx (and I love your username)! That's very kind, I'm very much still learning though and gaining a lot from hearing what women like yourself have to say!

I really wish more men and boys got involved, supported feminism and fought against the misogyny which is rampant in society. Boys and men also tend to listen more to other guys than they do girls or women from what I can see - the boyfriend of one of my friends has got interested in feminism and really listened a lot to us (which is great), his friends never really listened when my friend would try to talk about feminism but now he is some are at least giving it a thought now. Unfortunately most boys I know are quite sexist to say the least. Being ridiculed or just trolled on social media is why I don't talk about feminism anywhere near as much as I used to when I first got into it online now, I wish I did but I was sick of all the notifications from angry guys haha. I think that's very true, many are hostile to it because it's lead by women, with women at the centre, and men are expected to listen and support not lead, which when the rest of society is all geared towards them is a bit of a shock perhaps!

SmellySphinx Sun 09-Oct-16 13:35:13

Thanks grin
You have it exactly down to a T about men and boys, it's changing but very slowly, too slowly... When I was 16, not a million years ago I'm only media wasn't even a thing so I can't imagine what it's like to be a teen now faced with all the opportunity it brings and also unfortunately all the grief. It's bad enough as an adult. It lifts me and I'm so impressed that there are younger people such as yourself who are bringing it all to light as much as you can, we never spoke about these things even when I was at school. It just wasn't on the radar as far as school goes. I remember learning about periods in yr 6 (mixed sex school) the teacher tried her best to stop almost everyone giggling. In high school sex ed was pretty much glided over and the teacher just got embarrassed. This was in Science and the science lessons were experimentally taught in separate girls and boys groups. At no point in any lesson did we discuss feminism or anything at all about relationships, harrassment, sexual or domestic violence...naff all!

SmellySphinx Sun 09-Oct-16 13:38:15

I should say most/some men and boys

SmellySphinx Sun 09-Oct-16 13:40:53

Again...I should say I don't REMEMBER being taught about relationships etc in school... Maybe it was a million years ago or maybe I'm wishing it were haha

Now where did I put my memory...can never find anything these days, must be getting old!

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