Friday, 5 July 2013

Bus journey and sexism

I am not particularly fond of bus travel but its my way to work and back  however I had my worst bus journey in a long time yesterday in a long while and not for the usual reasons (crowing, bags on seats ect)

 Got on a bus at my usual stop but itwas quite crowded so I sat next to another woman who looked to be late twenties.  There were two teenage boys behind us, around 16 or so.  The boys were quite vocal, swearing quite a lot and playing off against each other. After a little bit is became clear they were eyeing me and this other women up.  Kept leaning forward and looking us up and down.  I was slightly creeped out but decided to ignore them.  Woman next to me was clutching her phone and texting. 
The seat in front becomes free so I move too it.  Within 2 minutes one of the boys sits down next to me.  Legs akimbo as guys seem to do and and tucked between over his groin.  Hands then become crossed but with the palms at breast level, that is at my breast level.  I start to plan what to do in case he goes for a grope.  I am steadfastly ignoring him but he is inching ever closer and his leg keeps slightly brushing mine. 
He then starts a conversation with his mate two seats behind.  Points over me, not touching and says I’d do that one pointing at a car but looking at me, then is mate says I’d do the one behind clearly referring to the women behind me.  I am seriously freaked out now and am pretty much ready to yell and punch if he tries anything.  Also worried about woman behind me.  He sits there for a while longer and then eventually gets up and moves back to his mate. 
The woman behind takes a phone call in this time and its clear she has arranged someone to meet her at the bus stop, so she is obviously disturbed too.
I eventually get up to get off and when I look up both boys are smirking at me and nudging each other.  I even stop and check when I get off to make sure they didn’t follow me. Now he didn’t touch me or even say anything directly to me but the whole experience freaked me out so much I was nearly in tears. I also felt I couldn’t say anything to them because it was so subtle and people would think me strange.   The fact that these two boys thought it was ok to do this to women and that we had to put up with it for fear of being labelled crazy or hormonal just makes me weep. 
I went home and shared this story on the everyday sexism website but I didn’t share it on facebook or twitter because I didn’t want to face people saying I was making a fuss or trying to shift the blame onto me.  Most of my friends wouldn’t do this but some of my family would and I didn’t want to have to deal with that on top of everything else.
The attitude of these boys is the attitude of a lot of people in society and this is the sort of thing we need to fight back against.  This is why I support the everyday sexism project and why I am a feminist. If anyone reads this I strongly suggest that you go look up the everyday sexism website to see what women have to put up with on a daily basis and if you ever see anything like this happening to a woman or to a man and think they need help - please help and show these people that their behaviour is not acceptable.

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