‘Abuse’ Category

  1. Going for a song

    June 20, 2013 by The Kraken

    Image from news.softpedia.com

    Image from news.softpedia.com

    Dear Robin Thicke,

    (CCd to Pharrell and TI)

    Oh, Robin, you are a massively suppurating bowl of stool-water aren’t you? In fact I can now see where the name Thicke comes from. It’s not so much a moniker as a statement of your mental prowess, bless you and you underworked intellect.

    Now I’ve no doubt that you are chuffed to shit over the pop-picking hit you currently share with Pharrell and TI called Blurred Lines, or as it is called in our house Three Men Caterwauling As They Finger Their Own Foreskins. And I dare say that you’re almost (no, literally) creaming yourself over the accompanying video in which every woman is naked and letting her tits flap in the wind. It’s just that there’s a small problem with all of this, Robin, love. It’s that your video and song lyrics look like a rapist’s manifesto.

    Now you reckon that Blurred Lines is “throwaway fun” and that you and Pharrell have “a lot of respect for women”. You also claim that the tit-soup of a video isn’t sexist and that “If that’s sexism then so is everything inside the Louvre”. Jesus, Robin, Thicke really is the word of the day isn’t it?

    First, before I really start to kick the shit out of you, you need to know that you should never, ever compare yourself to anyone whose art hangs in the Louvre. See, that would be the equivalent of saying that if next door’s dog pissed into a test tube his efforts would be comparable with those of Stephen Hawking. They wouldn’t be and, artistically, neither are yours.

    Which brings me to your vomited lyrics. Now you reckon that you have respect for women. Problem is that your song doesn’t. In fact it has as much respect for women as an enraged Jim Davidson after hearing that his summer season slot has gone to a female comedian. You sing, “I know you want it” (as if you’re fucking telepathic), “I hate these blurred lines” (because for you “no” means “yes”), “I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two” (like the promise of raging constipation), “He don’t smack your ass and pull your hair for you” (well, I’d stab the bastard if he did) and “Baby, can you breathe?” (because a near death experience at the hands of a guy who refuses to stop is always a treat).

    Seriously, if that’s respect for women what in the fuck would you warble at a woman you didn’t like? I had no idea that the way to show a woman that you love her was by destroying her rectum and choking her with your knackersack. And there I was showing my female friends and relatives that I love them by buying them flowers. Next time I’ll nip into Soho for a ball-gag and a gallon drum of rohipnol.

    Oh, and before I sign off I have to also thank you for making the charts as accessible to kids as a sandpit loaded with fly-sprinkled cat turds. What I mean is that I’ll be buggered if my small daughter is going to get a whiff of the Top 40 after this. Now, Robin, I’m not suggesting that you write about fairies, monster trucks and Lego but I am suggesting that you get the hell away from the subject of rape. Really, at the age of five, my child does not need to be told that you’re going to screw her whether she likes it or not.

    Which means, Robin, that you can take your Blurred Lines and shove them up you own arse, hopefully tearing that in two as well. Oh, and you can treat Pharrell and TI to the same experience while you’re at it. No, you say? Well I don’t believe you. In the words of your own barf “I know you want it”.

    Lots of love

    The Kraken x

    The Kraken is a ‘furious and ranty ex-freelance journalist’. She has a wonderfully rage-filled blog, with the excellent title, ‘The Kraken Wakes’ and you can find her on Twitter right here.

  2. It was a bad week for women

    February 20, 2013 by Ashley

    This post is taken from @Blonde_M‘s fabulous blog, Against Her Better Judgement.

    Gods above, but that was a bad, bad week for women. In amongst the other enormous breaking news stories (resigning Popes; covert ground-up horse in apparently everything; meteors hitting the Earth), a woman was shot dead in the middle of the night, allegedly by her boyfriend.

    Image from Jezebel

    Image from Jezebel

    The story has garnered far more media attention than any other case of domestic violence might because the man who’s been charged with her murder is a world-famous Paralympian athlete. This, understandably, has meant that the focus of the story has been Oscar Pistorius, rather than the victim, Reeva Steenkamp. The faint irk that she seemed to be referred to for the first 24 hours of reporting as “his girlfriend” rather than by her name was nothing in comparison to the anger felt the following day when tabloid newspapers around the world saw fit to illustrate the story with pictures of law graduate and model, who spoke out about empowering women, in the skimpiest bikinis and underwear they could find.

    Then, on Friday morning, between a tweet about a band’s new single and Bruce Willis flogging his latest film, Daybreak tweeted the following:

    Image from Twitter

    Image from Twitter

    I’m well aware that Daybreak isn’t the epitome of high culture and sophisticated discussion. That’s fine: there’s space for both it and BBC4. But it’s a programme with an enormous audience, and one staffed by people who should know better than to put out such idiocy. ONS stats might be a deeply worrying portrayal of Britain’s attitudes towards women and sexual violence, but the responsible journalistic approach isn’t to start a “debate” where there isn’t one. It’s to educate viewers that there aren’t two sides to the argument. This might be an individual incident, but it’s individual incidents that combine to add up to a culture in which blaming victims is acceptable, when actually the only people who are responsible for crimes are those who have committed them.

    Because these two incidents came in a week when the 1 Billion Rising campaign was launched, highlighting and campaigning against the fact that one in three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. They came in a week when the BBC ran a deeply saddening but entirely unsurprising piece about women’s attitudes to their own safety when walking home after a night out. The verdict was unanimous: from Ramala to Kampala, Melbourne to Rio to Ottowa, women don’t feel safe. They make sure they have something they can lay hands on as a weapon should they need to. A quick, unscientific Twitter poll of followers elicited the same information. Check with your female friends: I guarantee the majority of them will have done it, at least once, if not regularly.

    Is it any wonder, really, given that – globally – there’s a culture of violence against women. It’s a systemic problem; that if we don’t speak up against it where we see it, nothing will change, and one billion more women will suffer.


    Blonde writes a fantastic blog which I recommend you bookmark immediately. You can also find her on Twitter.

  3. Nick Griffin and the Escalation of Ignorance

    October 19, 2012 by J9London

    Image from PA

    At this moment I, and half the country, are reeling in shock over Nick Griffin’s outstandingly hate-filled twitter attack on Michael Black and John Morgan, who recently won a suit against a Berkshire Bed and Breakfast.

    Brief backstory: Black and Morgan were denied the right to share a double bed by the B&B’s owner, Susanne Wilkinson, as she felt that would violate her own moral compass. They sued, were awarded damages, and in an incomprehensible move, Griffin tweeted their address along with some bigoted bravado and hints of a mob.

    Now, I am never a fan of people enforcing their values on others. As far as I’m concerned, Susanne Wilkinson is free to believe and act as she chooses, but her failure to recognise that she in turn, should grant that freedom to others is callous and narrow minded. However, the owner of any business has the right to operate that business in anyway they see fit; management’s right to refuse service is pretty standard.

    So she may have had the right to make her own choices about the Bed and Breakfast she owned, and by the same token, Michael Black and John Morgan, feeling themselves discriminated against, had every right to complain. In fact, given that equal marriage is still so hotly and unfairly contested, these particular fights are ever more important.

    The actions of both, I think, are understandable, and the ruling of the judge on the case simply that: one decision on one situation.

    Until Griffin.

    What makes his comments particularly damaging is his vile insinuation that campaigning for equal treatment of gay couples is indication of being against straight ones. It seems to often happen that this is a go-to defense move – feminists hate men, artists think sport is stupid, if you drink tea you’re anti-coffee. It’s illogical and has the dangerous effect of reinforcing ignorance with fear. It puts us into camps, forces us into war, it’s us against them, and both can’t make it through alive.

    I believe strongly that this kind of attitude is responsible for the very worst human behaviour.

    There is no “us” and no “them” – we are just one glorious mess of mostly bemused humans bumbling our way through lives were secretly sure we’re supposed to understand better than we do. We are all lost. We are all wrong. Our only hope is to be kind to each other. To be understanding of what we do not share. To be accepting of what we do not understand.

    We are in this together, all of us, every one, and we cannot let the ill-concieved bluster of a frightened little man make us think differently.

    Janina is addicted to dark chocolate and peppermint tea. She once made a burger so good she has a picture of the occasion on her bedroom wall. You can find out more about her at myrednotebook.com and follow her on twitter at @J9London.

  4. Slutwalk: thoughts from the founder

    September 24, 2012 by mhd_bass


    “I think we’re beating around the bush here. I’ve been told I shouldn’t say this, but if women don’t want to be victimised, they should stop dressing like sluts.”

    When he spoke these words at a student safety workshop, Constable Michael Sanguinetti of the Toronto Police had no idea what he had started. Outraged at the police force’s attitude toward rape victims, Heather Jarvis organised Toronto SlutWalk, a protest that would go on to inspire a global anti-rape movement.

    On the day of London’s second annual SlutWalk, Heather, a 26 year old PhD student at the University of Guelph, looks back on last year’s protest.

    I read the story in a student newspaper article online and I wanted to march down to Toronto police headquarters right away. When my friends started telling me that, actually, that was a good idea, I thought – why shouldn’t I?

    I mentioned the idea of a march to a colleague and he said: “What are you going to call it? A slut walk?”

    Perfect. That police officer was not the first to throw this degrading word at rape survivors, and I wanted to throw it right back.

    We gave ourselves just six weeks to organise some kind of rally before people lost interest.

     I remember watching the numbers climb on the Facebook event. I couldn’t believe it when it we reached 200 attendees, then 500 and then past 1,000. “Wouldn’t it be amazing if a hundred people attended?” I said to Sonia, my co-founder. I had no idea more than 4,000 would turn up.

    When the day came, the weather was on our side. It was early April but I still got sunburnt. About a dozen of us gathered in a public square in Toronto and watched as streams and streams of people started arriving.

    There were all kinds of groups carrying different banners – some serious, some playful. One woman dressed as a cop carried a sign saying: “To uniform fetishists, cops look like sluts.”

    I shuddered as I watched women in odd, outdated outfits carrying signs saying: “This is what I was wearing when I was raped. Tell me I asked for it.”

    Other women had decided: “I’m going to wear my highest heels and my fishnets and my underwear and I’m going to show my bra, because it doesn’t matter what I wear. When I was assaulted by my partner I was wearing pyjamas.”

    There were so many people we shut down an entire street in front of the police headquarters. I got up onto a raised sidewalk to give my speech and I was looking out onto thousands of crying, cheering faces. Not for the first time that day, I found myself on the verge of tears.

    I was assaulted several times when I was younger and I never dealt with it. I didn’t tell anyone; I just closed myself off and tried to forget. I had lots of serious blame and shame problems which were hard to get away from. I don’t even think I’m done yet. I still need to keep telling myself: “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

    I never intended it but through SlutWalk I was able to start dealing with my own assault history. Now anyone anywhere in the world can Google my name and find out that I was sexually assaulted, which is weird but a huge step for me. Even though I know better, I sometimes still blame myself for my assault but SlutWalk has helped me to start healing.

    As told to Maria Hannah Bass

    Hannah is the online intern for @pulsetoday and co-editor of @wannabehacks. She writes about health, relationships, culture and feminism. You can find her on Twitter at @mhd_bass or on you can find more about her on her website

  5. Rape: As much about men as it is about women

    August 28, 2012 by HannahsRhapsody

    Image from thefastertimes.com

    Several old men have offensively sought to re-define rape against women for their own political ends in the past week. And while the online response has emphatically reminded people that rape is rape, much of the online backlash – such as the #MenAgainstRape hashtag – has actually  been more telling than the comments themselves, and helps shed light on how misunderstood the issue of rape really is  

    Rape. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days, it is unlikely to have escaped you that rape is on the news agenda at the moment. In a big way.

    First, we had US Congressman Todd Akin giving an interview in which he staggeringly-ignorantly described how, “as I understand it, if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways of shutting that whole thing down”.

    BOOM! In that one single sentence we have both utter ignorance of how the female body works AND a suggestion that some rape isn’t legitimate. Well, holy shit, we must have reached the pinnacle of white, old men pontificating on women’s bodies, right? But no. Wait! There’s more!

    Next up comes WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, currently hiding in the London Ecuadorian embassy, flatly refusing to come out, thereby winning this year’s prize for stretching the rules of hide-and-seek to patience-whittling levels AND refusing to face rape and molestation allegations in one fell swoop.

    Now, while it’s beyond the remit of this blogpost to properly comment on the WikiLeaks situation and what embassies will and won’t allow, the rape allegations seem unequivocal. In the more famous indictment, Assange is accused of having had consensual sex with a woman, who then woke up later on to find him having sex with her again. Let me repeat: WOKE UP – ergo, Assange started having sex with her while she was still UNCONSCIOUS.

    The law is clear on this: it’s rape. A means through which some men have sought to demean, dominate and violate women since the beginning to time. (Yes, men get raped too and many of the same points still stand, but in this case, we’re talking about a man doing it to a woman.)

    As Hadley Freeman, and so many others, got piercingly-right when they repeated it again and again: rape is rape is rape. If you have sex with someone without their outright and mutually-understood, fully-conscious consent, then that is rape.

    It’s quite simple really. Except, apparently, for some people.

    In which Galloway sends himself down shit creek

    Because, next up on the batshit-tosser train this week was Respect MP George Galloway (best known for dressing as a cat on national television) who inexplicably joined Akin and Assange in the redefining-rape fun by saying that for some people, being naked in bed with them means you’re “already in the sex game”, and therefore have consented to more sex EVEN IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE ASLEEP. “Sure, a tap on the shoulder would have been more polite,” he then went on to suggest, causing me to have a minor embolism before I could continue watching.

    Although it has to be said that the sheer numbers of people who have come out against the comments, as shown by the Vagenda’s ‘Rape rainbow’ or Jezebel’s ‘Official guide to legitimate rape’, is one of the most heartening things about this whole sorry tale, some responses haven’t been uniformly encouraging – and have actually highlighted why we still need to keep talking about these issues in the first place.

    Of course, it all started with a hashtag. The #menagainstrape hashtag.

    In case you’ve read this far and your eyes are getting squiffy, that’s Men Against Rape. Many people took offence to this hashtag , but I think it addresses some serious points; the dismissal of which could be potentially extremely damaging to what we’re all trying to do: educate people about rape.

    In a nice handy list, here are a few of the most common ideas that I saw bandied around in criticism of the hashtag.

    • It’s making this crime, which largely affects women, about men
    • It’s taking away from women’s ability to talk to men and put their own experiences across
    • It’s obvious and completely unnecessary; why not simply have a hashtag saying #MenAgainstMurder, or #MenAgainstPaedophilia or #MenAgainstDrinkingBleach ?
    • It seems to ‘thank men for not being rapists’, and suggests that this is an ‘opt in’ thing rather than a general base level of respect we’d all expect  as default

    Although I can see where these points come from, they largely miss the point that, actually, rape is quite often about men.

    In fact, wherever the crime is a man having sex with a woman, that’s about a man as much as it’s about the woman. About the fact that a man has so little respect, appreciation or understanding of that woman’s right to her own body and sexuality; about how her sexuality, power, intellect and identity has got absolutely nothing to do with him, unless she explicitly consents to make it so.

    Rape is about power, and as long as it’s about the wielding of power over women, it’s also about men.

    Feminism was born from women demanding dialogue with men, and even though women now have the power to speak out without men’s permission or help, it doesn’t follow that men cannot empathise with women or espouse their views on equality.

    Of course men shouldn’t seek to redefine or dominate feminist debates, or women’s experiences. But joining a discussion or wholeheartedly espousing its principles doesn’t automatically mean a man wants to dominate it, ‘make it about them’ – or, if you will, ‘mansplain’ it.

    While rape of women strikes right to the heart of what it means to be a woman, in these cases, anyway, it also strikes right to the heart of what it means to be a man coexisting with women.

    Of course, it’s extremely obvious to have a hashtag saying #MenAgainstRape.

    Because OF COURSE men should be against rape as a default position. Just like I’m against kicking puppies and shooting children with rifles.

    BUT the fact that some men and women still agree that in some cases, rape just isn’t that serious and that women must shoulder some of the responsibility when they ‘lead on’ a man or drink a bit too much; the fact that there are still people in the world (especially those who are in positions of political power) who think that conscious consent is a blurry concept, means that actually, I’d say having a #MenAgainstRape hashtag isn’t such a bad idea.

    At the very least, inviting men to join discussions about rape might get people ‒ namely men for whom it doesn’t seem immediately obvious ‒ considering what rape means, and getting them to think about it a bit more before engaging in sexual relationships with people.

    It might also provide a rallying point for men on the subject, in their own arena, away from the feminist blogs and the sections of the newspapers which, with the best will in the world, are not usually read by those who have the most need for them.

    All those men who are so obviously already against rape, well thank god for you, you’re absolutely right. You don’t need to ‘opt in’, or pat yourself on the back for not being a rapist. (But if so, this hashtag, and the comments created alongside it, were not aimed at you.)

    And frankly, if it gets even one man thinking about what it means to rape versus not rape, or even strikes one line of dissention against the ideas perpetuated by Akin, Assange and Galloway, then I’d consider that a success.

    At least it’s not trying to redefine or qualify rape, in a discussion which is so often reduced to a ‘women’s issue’ against men, simplistically pitching the genders against each other.

    It’s simply saying that actually, men don’t all agree with Galloway or Akin.

    And if it provides a rallying point for groups such as domestic violence charity Respect UK (NOT Galloway’s ‘Respect’, thank god) to tweet links such as “10 things you can do to stop violence against women” or “If you want to show sexual respect, always check you’ve got an enthusiastic yes”, then frankly, where’s the harm in that?

    It doesn’t take away, it only adds

    Giving people a platform on which to assert that they are against rape doesn’t take away from the testimonies of women coming out to tell their story about rape. Neither does it, logically, suggest that anyone who doesn’t assert their view in this way is therefore ‘for rape’ or ‘rape ambivalent’.

    In fact, as I see it, it only adds to the dialogue between the genders; only adds an additional voice to the crowd of people around the world telling Assange, Akin and Galloway, and their sympathisers, that their views are profoundly offensive, unwanted, unfounded, ignorant and completely at odds with the experiences and views of the vast majority of men and women.

    And isn’t that what we’re all trying to get across in the first place?

    Comments and (constructive!) criticism very welcome!

    Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahsRhapsody, or see her other writings at http://notallwhowonderarelost.wordpress.com where a version of this post first appeared.

  6. Rape doesn’t just happen to other people

    August 23, 2012 by Anon

    Image from Slutwalk

    Last night, I stormed out of a dinner party in a rage with tears streaming down my face.  I was in a conversation with a male friend who I love who was trying to explain away Galloway’s comments on Assange.  At one point I ended up yelling and itemising the number of his female friends who have been sexually attacked.  Let me clarify here, I have not been raped.  But I have been assaulted with sex as a goal of the attacker and I have been sexually harassed more times than I can count.  Almost every woman I know has been at the receiving end of some sort of sexually motivated abuse.  A few weeks ago I was in a meeting when I got a text that one of my best friends had just been attacked on the tube, it was 4 pm.

    Two years ago, I was followed approached and grabbed on the tube, I resisted and asked other passengers for help, only to be  ignored when the attacker said I was his drunk girlfriend.  I only got away by diving in to another tube car as the door closed.  Both of us would have been victims of ‘legitimate’ stranger danger rape rather than that of our boyfriends or acquaintances.  In ways, that would have made it easier—as people are able to believe that the baddie in the bushes raped you rather than the neighbour you’ve known since you were ten or the guy you’ve been on a few dates with that you would have probably slept with anyway.  But both of us when recounting the stories repeatedly say what we were wearing… we explain that we were in no way encouraging it.  We justify our right to have been, god forbid, traveling unaccompanied on public transport.

    This isn’t meant to be a litany of woe is me and my friends.  Rape, sexual assault, assault with sexual undertones and violence underlying it is a constant threat.  Rape has been used as a weapon against women since the beginning of time.  It is used to tame, silence and demonstrate power over women regularly.  And currently in England and the US, two supposedly educated nations, it is headline news.  From Julian Assange to Todd Akin; what is rape rape?  What is legitimate rape?  Why don’t these women just roll over and open their legs, whether they are asleep or awake and let us get on with our manly business.

    These aren’t tears of sadness, they are tears of fury.  People wonder why rape is only reported a quarter of the time?  Because the cops and the people on the benches of so called justice are asking what they were wearing, they are silently asking if it is forcible, legitimate, real, actual, rape.  Or just a misunderstanding.  Or just a little bad sexual etiquette.  Something has to give, the fury and rage that is being expressed on twitter is just the tip of the iceberg.  Women need to come out in force and vote.  And the men that we love, the men that we share our stories of abuse with, the men that stand by us, need to vote too.  Galloway needs to be shamed out of politics.  Assange needs to be prosecuted for the rapes that he committed and Akin needs to resign.  And we need to stop electing Neanderthals that hold the belief that rape is anything other than a heinous act.

    If you have a story you would like to share anonymously, please email anonawot@gmail.com or DM me on Twitter for the anon account log in details. Thank you.

  7. Street Harassment – Hollaback!

    May 29, 2012 by Ashley

    Following all the recent talk about street harassment, I asked the AWOT community to tweet me their best comebacks to street harassers…

    Image from stopstreetharassment.org

    Bloke in train station staring at my tits. Don’t think he expected me to point at them, then at him & shout ‘GREAT, AREN’T THEY?’
    Once in a pub I got told I shouldnt be playing a man’s game (pool) and to go home because women don’t get spoken to in pubs.  I was so shocked I just stood there open-mouthed. I wish I’d told him to fuck off but it’s not what you expect is it!
    One day, I hope to break into the refrain from Hollaback Girl.
    I was walking down a street once having just bought a machete from a army supply store (I like machetes) and some guy stop and asks if I want a ride. And I hold up the machete and ask “Do you really want me in the car with you?” and he’s like “Well I trust you, you seem harmless,” and I was like, “what if I’m not? Would you risk your life on it?” and he drove off right away.
    Him: Oh, I thought you were going to be pretty. Me: I thought you were going to have a brain.
    “If you touch my bum again I’ll fart on you.” I even put it on @hollabackldn.
    “Dude, does that EVER WORK FOR YOU? Has anyone EVER responded positively? You must NEVER get laid.”
    A tweep (can’t remember who) recently said she’d replied “suck my dick”. Left harasser confused & speechless.
    After Anchorman came out I got “I wanna be on you.” Misheard and said “Sorry, what? You’re from Scotland?”
    Out w/ sister. Creep (hoping for ‘girl action’): “So what’s the relationship btwn you then laydeez?” Sis: “Biological. Piss off.”
    A guy started stroking my hair the other day and telling me I looked like Rapunzel. I told him it was a wig.
    Not exactly street harassment but in the 60s my Mum threw bananas at fellow employees that hooted at her ‘cuz she wore miniskirts.
    Him: “Smile, love!” Me: “Dance.” “You can’t tell me what to do!” “…”
    Recently I responded to one guy with, “WOW, REALLY? CAN I GIVE YOU MY PHONE NUMBER?” He called me a bitch. Such mixed messages.
    ‏My mum told me one of her friends had her arse grabbed in a club, grabbed it, held it up and shouted ‘to whom does this belong?’
    Ooh, and: “I hope you don’t mind my asking, but what did you REALLY think that was going to achieve?”
    To the man rubbing his cock against my leg on the tube ‘can you move over? that packet of polos in your pocket is digging in to me.’
    The appropriate response to a man gesturing at his crotch is ‘I’ve seen bigger’.
    It’s REALLY important to not mention the size of their dicks. You don’t want them to think that’s a consideration.
    Some chav guy asked for my number. I said no. He said was it because I was too posh for him. I said yes.
    I favour “Do you have a daughter / sister? How would you feel if someone shouted what you just said at them?” (not very pithy, but it works)
    Another fave: turn round, look at them, and do a big spluttering laugh.
    I find a simple withering look and a ‘run along now’ works wonders.
    I find a simple, “Sorry, what did you just say?” is often quite effective – force them to repeat their own idiocy, again and again.
    “RUDE!” (shouted as loudly as possible, whilst majestically sailing onwards like the victor you are)
    “I *beg* your pardon? Are you actually 12?”
    Maybe it’s because I’m a Chicagoan, but when strange men call me “honey,” I call them “woogums.”. They get disgruntled.

    Got harassed on street by terrifying man for having a ‘foreign’ tattoo. Told him it wasn’t my fault he was illiterate.
    Cat call I couldn’t object to: in Trinidad wearing a bright orange tee, a guy shouted: “Gyal you look like a big dose of vitamin C.”
    One of my male colleagues, who I generally don’t have a lot to do with (as he’s fucking lazy) emailed my lovely female office-mate the following: ”Is Jane single? Do you think she’d be interested in a no-strings-attached night of fucking me?”
    a) no; b) EW EW NO.
    Needless to say, I declined. Then vomited everywhere.

    And here’s a story I was emailed a while ago that I completely forgot to post:

    I was walking home from university, on the phone to my dad and I was wearing shorts, tights, and a light jumper. Simple. Not revealing, but it’s bloody hot outside so I wasn’t going to cover up more (and why should I just to repel the *twats*). Basically I had just walked up a big hill in NW London so as you can imagine my hair was sticking to my face because of the sweat and I was grasping for breath a little. Yet STILL I got harassed by three men, who were walking in the middle of the road:

    “Hi princess…” “Ohhh you look goooood enjoying the sunshine in those shorts” “That’s right, walk past us so that we can see you from behind”.

    This was all being said to me whilst I was trying to stay composed, carry on a conversation with my FATHER who could clearly hear what they were saying, and still trying to walk with a sticky face and a heavy bag.

    For about 10 seconds, I could neither hear my dad, or the grotesque comments coming from the men that I’d just walked past. My brain had gone a bit dumb. Then some signal fired correctly and told my brain that I should probably do something.

    I chose to turn around, raise my middle finger on my left hand (whilst my right hand tried to block the microphone on my phone) and say a loud “fuck off”.

    There was that millisecond where I thought that they may chase me down the street, but instead I was greeted with: “Ohhhh she’s feisty”.

    Surely I couldn’t have won in that situation.

    It’s a regular occurrence for me and my friends. I know people that have been shouted at through van windows, and chased by knobbers on mopeds.


  8. Not even Lads harass – that’s left to the morons

    May 28, 2012 by Mr_Fitzgerald

    Image from blog.builderscrap.com

    There is one trending issue which really riles me up. One which doesn’t affect me directly, one I’ve never witnessed first hand, one which I have hitherto apparently let go un-noticed. And one I feel near powerless to prevent.

    Street harassment has been around for a long time. Forgive me my disgraceful naivety here though, but I had assumed that the wolf-whistling builder was just a cliché. Nowadays, with women MPs and CEOs, no average Joe Bloggs still shouts “nice tits love” at women in the street, right?

    According to this, 43% of women would disagree. It’s a shocking statistic, made worse by the fact that if you spoke to enough women you’d be expect it to be higher.

    For any right-minded bloke, the thought of harassing an attractive woman on the street never crosses his mind. What may well cross his mind is “sweet holy Jesus, she’s gorgeous”. Especially in summer, when skirts are shorter, tops lower, and all women seem to look a billion dollars. He will then probably tell his male friends about this ethereal vision of a female, probably in fairly insensitive terms, fantasising about what sex with her would be like. Which is fine – physical attraction is natural, and that sort of banter between male friends is part of male bonding, never intending to directly involve women or risk causing any offence. It is, to use that awful word, “banter”.

    It takes a special kind of moron to act upon that thought, and/or act upon that woman.

    It’s the kind of moron I cannot begin to comprehend. And trust me, I have tried. They’ll call themselves “one of the lads”, rejecting criticism to their behaviour a humourless over-reaction.


    I know lad culture. I went to university in Durham, a tiny city crammed with rugby and football teams, which, when combined along with a dose of cheap lager, produces a potent laddish cocktail. I’ve been part of it, on club socials and tours. I grew up in Glasgow, chav capital of the world. I’ve been there, seen it, done it, got the “Lads on Tour” t-shirt.

    Laddishness is about knowing your audience. Discussing women in physical terms purely as a group of ‘lads’ is the right side of the line of acceptability. Where you step over that line is when you start to involve women in your audience. That is when it stops being banter and becomes harassment.

    Just to be clear, I hate what the word ‘lad’ now means. It legitimises shitty behaviour to others purely on the basis of ‘being a lad’. Similarly, ‘boys will be boys’ does so on the grounds of being one of a whole gender. On both counts, I call bullshit. Why should possessing a penis be a valid excuse for being a cunt? Evolving behaviour to be more socially acceptable is a key part of an evolving civilisation – one which includes everyone – valuing and combining their different contributions, to improve the overall machine and maintain forward momentum. I thought we were at a point where we men had realised how much women can bring to the party.

    Yet there remains a minority, apparently not the tiny one I was expecting, who aren’t quite fully socially evolved – the child at the back of the class, who gets a kick out of both the social unacceptability and the resulting reaction of flagrant misogyny. That kick is the only motivation I can think of to explain what they do.

    So what can we do?

    Sadly, few people seem to have a workable solution, though not for want of trying. The Council of Europe’s Convention on Violence Against Women is a good start. But there’s a long way to go before the law catches up with the crime. And as with other forms of discrimination, the law can only ever go so far. We need to hit this from both sides, with legislation at the top matched by action at ground level. We cannot ignore it and expect laws to do all the. We need to reinforce the unacceptability of this behaviour every day, every time we see it.

    And, gentlemen, some of it needs to come from our side.

    What these children really want is a reaction from those at whom they direct their ‘compliments’. It’s what makes their game ‘fun’, so they continue. Like all trolls, if you react they never stop, if you ignore them they ratchet the game up a level until they get a reaction, but if you engage them properly, and show them up in front of their peers, they quickly stop bothering.

    I’ve seen this sort of thing happen online – a sexist comment is made by some imbecile, women react, imbecile argues back and continues to conduct his audience. What I’ve seen that they can’t handle is men calling them out as the impotent, pathetic infants they are. This steals the kick they get from female attention, and the feeling of a taboo broken. So they vanish.

    Essentially, our response to street harassment needs to be equivalent to this. Priceless.

    This is my rallying cry to my fellow men. If you witness some dickless wonder harassing a woman, help her out. Anything from a quiet “are you ok?” to “I don’t think she’s into virgins, mate” would, if nothing else, show the victim she’s not on her own. Judge the situation, be careful, but for god’s sake don’t stand by and do nothing when you can do something. We’ve left the women to fight this battle alone for far too long.

    After all, if things continue this way, women will give up and start wearing the burqa. Then we all lose. You’ve seen London in the summer sun, right?! It’s like a goddamn lynx advert. And who knows, if we stand by our women, we might even get laid. Now wouldn’t that be nice.

    Jack is a twenty something manboy. He writes a blog about London life (check out The London Lad here) and has the largest collection of empty gin bottles I’ve ever seen. You can often spot Jack exploring news bars and haunts for his blog, or on Twitter. Go forth and make friends. Just don’t try and make him watch Twilight. 

  9. Street Harassment & Racism

    April 11, 2012 by SarahRapp


    I was walking home last week, and two middle-aged men walking with pitt bulls off-leashes got close to me on the pavement. I startled, and backed away. I have no phobia of dogs, but a rather a healthy respect for big animals to whom I’m a stranger.

    The man laughed and yelled to the dogs, “Leave the dark meat alone!”  

    I stopped walking, confused. It took me a second to realize that the dark meat wasn’t a KFC special on the ground, but me.

    The man breezed past me, and shared a cheeky grin with his friend about his comment, obviously delighted at his sparkling wit. The phrase ‘dark meat’ echoed in the hollows of my mind. It was a one-two punch of racism and sexism that left me feeling dirty and worthless.

    It ignored who I am as a person, and reduced me to my two my obvious visible characteristics—my skin colour and gender.

    I love navigating foreign subway systems, have a ridiculous sweet tooth, follow business news religiously, can quote large parts of ‘The West Wing’, and scored really well on my SATs but in that moment, none of that mattered. I wasn’t Sarah Rappaport, journalist and human being, but a commodity that could be bought and sold at a chicken shack.

    Meat, as in part of a dead animal, and not a person. Just typing this makes me cringe.

    I wish I could say that this is the one and only time that I had a comment like this directed at me. I don’t normally get comments quite so blatantly disrespectful, but as someone who isn’t lily-white, I get “othered” on quite a regular basis.

    When I’ve been out at bars, I’ve had men come up to me and say that they love ethnic girls as an opening line, as if we’re all the same. Clearly, all non-Anglo people have the same personality, hopes, and dreams! It comes with the added melanin and resistance to sunburn!

    Men have drunkenly uttered things to vulgar to print to me about how spicy I might be in bed because of the way I look.

    I’ve had people not believe me when I tell them that I’m from the States. Where are you really from, I mean, where are your parents from? are the inevitable follow up questions.

    The answer to this is Chicago. Shockingly, ‘ethnic’ people populate the United States as well.

    I’ve had remarks about how great my English is, as if it isn’t my first language.

    Dealing with these kind of remarks has become a sad kind of normal for me, but every time I hear a dehumanizing comment, it is still just as painful as the first time.

    I wish I lived in a world where I wouldn’t hear racist or sexist comments from strangers. It’d leave more space in my brain for the latest article on The FT, being a better friend, catching up wth @NotRollerGirl’s hilarious jokes on twitter, or at the very least, my Netflix Queue.

    Sarah is an American journalist living in London. She’s also one of the loveliest people I’ve ever met. Sarah loves international news, travel, and  frozen yoghurt. One of these days, she is going to take me to Pinkberry (in an effort to convert me from Snog). You can check out her personal website here, or follow her on Twitter here.



  10. Street Harassment Goes On Tour…

    March 26, 2012 by CJMortimer

    Image from http://www.shropshirestar.com/

    Breaking the trend of the last few days, my tale of harassment happens on a train rather than on the street.

    Although I’ve had my fair share of leery, creepy men and their unwanted attention, I’ve never experienced the kind of verbal abuse that lots of women were talking about last week. My story is not about drunk men, dark evenings and inappropriate banter. It happened on a commuter train, silently, in the middle of the day.

    It began relatively innocuously. I was minding my own business, nursing a (slight) hangover on a Virgin train between Birmingham and London at around five o’clock on a cold December afternoon in the window seat of a carriage full to the brim with businessmen (quietly) conducting their business on their laptops, (loudly) discussing their next meeting on their iPhones and Blackberries and (probably) texting their mistresses the time they were coming over that weekend.

    At Rugby a man came and sat next to me. This in itself wasn’t all that remarkable as there were few free seats left on the train and despite my slight claustrophobia and dislike of people I don’t know near me it did not bother me too much. For half an hour nothing happened, I looked out the window, listening to my iPod and thought about the night before while he read the Daily Star or some other tabloid that I wasn’t really paying attention to.

    Then he decided to ‘fall asleep’.

    I didn’t noticed much at first until his fingers started to graze my thigh slightly. I shifted uncomfortably so they’d fall off, yet the hand remained. I coughed loudly so he was jolted awake and his hand moved as he stirred. Thinking it was innocent I looked out the window again. A few minutes later I felt the hand again this time they were edging a bit closer to my crotch. Then I realised his eyelashes were flickering the way my little sister and I’s used to when we were little and were trying to feign sleep to my parents.

    Horrified that this was deliberate I trying edging closer to the window but, as anyone who has ever been on a Virgin train will attest that, this did not make much difference.

    So I was stuck. Of course what pass through my mind was forcibly pushing his hand away, telling him to piss off or standing up and asking one of the other passengers to swap with me. But I did nothing. I squirmed and I wriggled and I squished myself up against the window until he got off the stop before I did. I think it went on for another half an hour in all.

    And I did nothing. That’s the worst. Out of everything that has happen in my life, this particular incident doesn’t make the top ten on its own. It’s not what happened, or that horrible guy, it’s how I reacted.

    I wanted to say something but I was too scared of what other people would think. I was scared that I was overreacting. Because he didn’t try to grope me fully and because I was wearing jeans I tried to rationalise it and told myself that if I screamed everyone else who just think I’m being over dramatic. The other businessmen might have sided with the guy or thought I’d made it up.

    This is why I want to tell this story and why I decided to publish it under my own name even though I’d rather my parents didn’t find out about it. My mother told me a story years ago about being groped on the Underground in her twenties as part of her ‘don’t trust strangers’ speech at around ten or eleven but as I was already becoming a nascent feminist I assumed that this sort of thing didn’t happen anymore, especially not to girls like me. The Queen of standing up to the boys, feminist rhetoric and answering back.

    To paraphrase a bad* eighties movie; nobody puts me in a corner.

    And yet I let this happen because I was scared people would think I was a silly little girl. In hindsight, those men probably would have rushed to my defence if I’d protested but I was too afraid to test that theory because there are so many occasions where women are told we’re overreacting to sexism and abuse; its harmless or just ‘a bit of banter’.

    So in a way I suppose this is my call to arms. We’ve won a lot of battles over the past hundred years, we can vote, think and say what we like; we have options to fight back against this sort of thing we just have to use them. Just because we can shrug it off doesn’t mean we should or that men like that should be allowed to get away with it.

    When it comes to sneaky abuse like this its time women fought back because when we do will probably find everyone is already behind us.

    Caroline is a student at Birmingham University. She’s also a freelance journalist and blogger, providing insights into political, social, and economic news from around the world. You can follow her on Twitter here, or you can check out her superb blog here

    *AWOT does not support the theory that Dirty Dancing is anything other than cinematic brilliance. 

  11. Street Harassment Week: Standing up to the ghosts of past experience

    March 23, 2012 by rebeccataylorpr

    Image from http://www.stopstreetharassment.org/

    I wasn’t going to write this. When I saw Ashley’s tweet asking for experiences of street harassment, I wanted to tell her mine, but I didn’t want her to put my name to it. Somehow, the experience left me feeling deeply ashamed, and even as I was typing Ashley an email, I was physically shaking, despite the incident in question happening several years ago.

    However, the process of telling someone about my experience, for the first time ever, saw me go from ashamed to furious. Then I read Rachel England’s post about her own experiences of harassment, and I decided to just say it. Own it, stick two fingers up at the man who did it to me, and move right on past it.

    About three years ago, I was walking to the taxi rank on my way back from a night out, feeling good about myself, striding ahead of my friends. Three guys walking on the other side of the high street said hi, and we started to have a bit of a chat about how good our nights had been, and they invited me to a party with them. It was all very light-hearted and chatty and I don’t think they ever expected me to say yes to the invitation, we were just all high on the buzz of a good night out and a few drinks.

    Then one of them said,

    “Come back with us. Three of us, three holes.”

    It just cut me dead. I was horrified, and ran back to my friends where I promptly burst into tears and sobbed all the way home, all the rest of the night, and eventually cried myself to sleep. I wouldn’t tell my friends what was said because I just couldn’t get the words out. It still makes me feel tearful now. To the credit of the guy’s friends, they were horrified too and told him angrily that he couldn’t say things like that, but I still haven’t got over it.

    I still feel that I was completely violated. In a way it feels like I’m overreacting because it was just words, no one touched me, and maybe I feel somehow responsible, chatting away to strange men with my boyfriend trailing behind. But it’s difficult to see those words in print, and there’s still no way I could repeat it out loud. I’m a 27 year old woman who still feels weak thinking about what one drunk man said to me years ago – how dare he make me feel like that. I’d love to see him again and tell him what he did to me – I bet he doesn’t even remember saying it.

    I hope that no-one else has had a similar experience to this, but I know that won’t be the case. So I’m standing up to it, telling people what happened, telling you what happened, in the hope that I can put it behind me and finally see that guy for the pathetic excuse for a man that he really is. But that’s not to say that it’s been easy to move on from. Street harassment is serious, it’s not just ‘banter’, it is a big deal. Let’s speak up.

    Rebecca Taylor is a PR lady, shoe fanatic and pinot grigio connaisseur. She’s fond of mojitos, 50s style, glam rock and punk cover versions of pop songs. If you believe Klout (!), Rebecca is influential about sandwiches, which earns her my immediate love and respect. You can find more about her here, or you can follow her on Twitter here


    This week is International Anti-street Harassment Week. You can read more about it here. If you’d like to share a story, email me (Ashley) or register and post your blog. Alternatively, if you have an anonymous story to share, email anonawot@gmail.com or DM @AWOT_UK for the login details to the anon account.  

  12. Rachel Tensions

    March 21, 2012 by Rachel_England

    Last night some friends and I went to a party in Canada Water. Afterwards we got a taxi back to Tooting, and decided to go to the 24-hour Londis to get some frozen pizzas, rather than head to the late-night kebab shop where there’s usually trouble at that time of night. Mistake.

    As Himself and I stood at the counter, the door slammed open and in stumbled a bloke not much taller than me, but very muscular, carrying a kebab and clearly drunk out of his tree. Because of the noise he’d made smashing into the shop I looked over and caught his eye. He then squared up to me and spat: “Yeah, I’m black. Problem?”

    I said no, and that I was looking at him because he’d nearly taken the door off the hinges as he’d thundered in.

    “Well,” he replied. “Unless you’re going to suck my dick or bend over for me, don’t fucking look at me.”

    I weighed up the pros and cons of pursuing this, and concluded that I was too tired to deal with him. Plus I had friends with me, and had had a good night, so I just ignored him. Until he started throwing bits of his kebab at the back of my head.

    “Who the hell do you think you are?” I said as I walked out. And he followed, still throwing chips and pieces of meat at me.

    “I know who I am! And I’m black, you little white cunt,” he spat in my face. “Do you wanna suck it? You’d like that, eh?”

    At this point he was inches away from my face, spitting rancid kebab over me as he carried on with his tirade. “Yeah I’ll spit on you if I want,” he laughed. “And what are you going to do about it? Call the police, white girl? You’d love that, wouldn’t you? Go on. Call them. They won’t do anything.”

    At this point, a big group of people had assembled around us. Mainly his friends, I assume, since they were laughing, egging him on, and one of them was filming the whole thing on his phone. “I will fuck you up,” he shouted, before someone grabbed his arms.

    And then came the tedious and age-old “Leave it Rachel, it’s not worth it”.

    But this is the problem. It absolutely is worth it. Last year I witnessed (and was forced to deal with) a hideous teenager threaten a terrified woman on the Tube. Only a few months ago I got into an argument with a woman who made loud and disgusting racist comments against an Eastern European woman in a shop packed full of kids.

    How can there exist a culture whereby a group of men can surround a girl and make disgusting, derogatory and threatening comments, and yet she is the one told by the surrounding population to “just leave it” in the knowledge that actually yes, the police probably wouldn’t do anything? Because people are cowardly and do “just leave it”, when actually they should get in the face of the offending scum and stick up for themselves. If I hadn’t adhered to the bleats of my companions – one of which whom actually apologised to this asshole in an attempt to defuse the situation – I would have stood there in the hopes that he actually had tried to “fuck me up”, because then I could have legitimately kicked his head in – or at least tried to, which would have made me feel a Hell of a lot better. Instead, I went home shaken, furious and upset. He went home with an inflated ego and the admiration of his peers.

    This is not even an issue of race. That the guy was black never even crossed my mind until he started ranting and raving about it. This is an issue of entitlement and a skewed ‘political correctness’ that gives scum – from all demographics – an upper hand, and renders the social existence of regular people, who are just trying to buy a damn pizza on a Friday night, completely invalid. Because these people do “just leave it”, because they don’t want to get involved, or are afraid, or can’t be bothered. And so it just goes on and on.

    Rachel England is bloody funny. She writes an absolutely super blog (where this post first appeared), which you must go and read immediately. You may in fact lose several hours of your life to it. Rachel is a freelance journalist and editor, an occasional runner and a highly amusing person to meet IRL. I am fairly certain most of the attendees of March’s AWOT are in love with her. You can also find her on Twitter.


    This week is International Anti-street Harassment Week. You can read more about it here. If you’d like to share a story, email me (Ashley) or register and post your blog. Alternatively, if you have an anonymous story to share, email anonawot@gmail.com or DM@AWOT_UK for the login details to the anon account.