Failure to communicate


I recently went to a party and because it was hot decided to wear a halterneck and jeans along with flip flops (this matters). On the five minute walk to the train station I was harassed three times by men, one waheeey from a car, one sleazy guy who leaned in and said hey gorgeous and one guy who made smacking noises and said you are so fiiiine while forcing me to brush past him.

When I got home I told my boyfriend and after about thirty minutes of him telling me I was overreacting and my anger or appearance was the problem, he finally yelled ‘oh my god if you hate it that much wear a fucking burqa!’

Getting it. He was not. I despair.



37 Responses to “Failure to communicate”

  1. Mat Says:

    Dump him.

  2. Sara Says:

    I had similar issues with my boyfriend when I got street harrassed by a guy while I was at university in the north of England. This guy had basically asked my boyfriend if he could borrow me for sex in a phone box. I got angry and pointed out to my boyfriend that was not his property.

    Boyfriend told me that I was insensitive because I just didn’t understand the culture of the north where women only aspire to be housewives. I don’t believe this for a second!

    After several weeks of calling him out as sexist (including one incident when I complained about being harrassed on the street and he told me that I should be grateful because his mother would love to be hooted at.) He’s begining to understand, but it’s always an uphill struggle.

    • Luna_the_cat Says:

      Help me out, here. I assume that he must have had *SOME* redeeming features, to the point that you didn’t just plant a knee in his goolies and march?

      • Sara Says:

        Oh yeah, we’re still together and he is becoming a pro feminist, I think it was partly my fault because, although I have always had feminst view points I found that I was very deeply ingrained in certain sexist opinions so much so that I didn’t even realise when it was happening and he’s the same.

        Since I have become an activist it’s been a real eye opener how deep it goes and it’s almost like i’ve been on a fast track course in the real world, i’ve never looked back since and he’s picked up on it as well. He’s usually very caring and this was quite uncharacteristic for him, but he’s from northumberland so he’s a northerner and i guess he wanted to defend his own, but still not acceptable and he continues to apologise to this day.

    • H Says:

      Wow. Nice generalisations about all women in the north there.. Saying that, I do get a LOT more harrassment living in the north than in any other part of the country. I can’t walk to the end of the road without at least one shit beeping their horn, or to campus without being gawped or whistled at by drivers hanging around outside the taxi office. I’ve never feel so objectified as I have done this past year of living in York.

      I think it’s partly because it’s provincial too, not just northern – if I was somewhere a bit more metropolitan like Leeds or Manchester then maybe it’d be different? Although I’m sure that now you’re going to prove me wrong and say you went to uni in a big northern city, Sara!

      I’d also like to join the calls for the OP to dump her boyfriend. I think I might just be very lucky, but my boyfriend asked me to point out to him if he ever did anything unconsciously sexist, and reads feminist blogs like this, and thefword. (#showoff!)

      • shoutingwoman Says:

        I know what you mean, Sara. I also went to a uni in the North and found the level of street harrassment was higher than what I was used to.

        Funnily enough, my partner of 7 years sounds a lot like your boyfriend. Back in our early days, me being young and full of energy decided not to dump him for being sexist but to educate him instead. I figured I was strong enough to stand up for myself and put him in his place when another girl not so sure of herself would just submit (plus he was ace in the sack!).

        Now he’s much better – it took time and effort but he’s as well-adjusted in his views on equality as I could ask for. (And he’s still ace in the sack, which is a bonus 😉 )

      • Sara Says:

        I’ve actually found it to be opposite, I think being at uni in the north east the street harrassment has been more severe in some cases, but it is more frequent at home in the south east.

        Then again, the worst of it has been when I’m at the science campus in Stockton-on-Tees, which is a more deprived area than Durham city. Still not a fair generalisation of Northern women and whilst i appreciate their are some statistics that might indicate this interpretation, i really have to call bullshit on it. And said boyfriend continues to apologise for this statement to this day (and the one about his mother!) and now is somewhat pro feminist himself.

    • throwthelunatic Says:

      Lovely generalisations about Northern women there. We don’t just want to be housewives. However, we do get a lot of street harassment here, admittedly, and sexism does seem more deeply ingrained, particularly in the North East where I live.

      Seriously, I hope your boyfriend had some redeeming features (and I think he must do, you seem sensible here) and he is learning. Remember, it’s not your responsibility to teach him. I do respect you for trying though, seriously! Thankfully I don’t have this problem with my boyfriend.

      My brother is honestly so sexist I can’t believe we come from the same family. He’s got it from my grandfather, I think, a man who only ever asks the women in the family to make him a cup of tea. Now my brother has decided that honking at women is okay because he ‘would enjoy being honked at if [he] was a woman!’ I despair.

      • Sara Says:

        I wouldn’t say I’ve experienced said sexism to be any more deeply ingrained than in the south east tragically. As for boyfriend, i wouldn’t say i was training him so much as pointing out why his comments are totally unacceptable because of reason X, Y and Z and then letting him make his own mind up.

        I don’t want to make excuses for him but I think he hasn’t really questioned certain assumptions before he’s just acted on them. The idea of street harrassment for example, it went from not knowing it happened to thinking it was a compliment to apologising everytime it happens because he feels as a man, he’s part of the problem, so he gets told to be part of the solution. End of.

        I’m sorry about your brother too, I’d tell him that his opinion demonstrates his lack of knowledge about what women want and thus his lack of experience with them, or something to that effect

    • Gretchen Says:

      Even if it were true (which it isn’t)….did you boyfriend mean to say that it’s okay to “borrow” housewives for sex in phone boxes? Or women who aspire to be housewives?


      • Sara Says:

        No, he didn’t agree with what was said per se. But defended the guy’s right to say it as ‘a cultural thing’ because that’s the north eastern attitude and funny thing is I felt guilty and somehow disrespectful for being angry about it until i thought about it and said HANG ON A SECOND well it’s my fucking culture to object to that!

        subsequently, I’ve recieved numerous grovelling apologies for all of his comments that I have deemed sexist and he’s not malicious, just guilty of not questioning these preconcieved notions of women that he was bought up with. Well not anymore!

    • Amy Says:

      Northern woman here, officially not aspiring to be a housewife!!

      Funny how some commenters have said the level of street harrassment is worse in the North, whereas I’ve found the complete opposite. By far the worst place I lived as far as street harrassment was concerned was South London. I couldn’t walk down the street there, during the day even, without several shouts of ‘hey baby’, ‘give me your number’, ‘come and talk to me baby’, ‘smile sweetheart’, etc etc…

      I live in the North again now and love it!

      • H Says:

        tbh there’s probably an even distribution of sexists across the country! it’s perhaps that I’ve just happened to encounter more of them here than in the other places I’ve lived. I do find that in smaller towns like the one I live in now, and a few others, wearing something a bit unusual that would pass unnoticed in a city, will get you unwanted attention. Socks, heels during the day, and so on.

    • Pavlov's Cat Says:

      North of what exactly? I so love it when people tell me what my aspirations are without ever having met me.

    • Cee Says:

      “(including one incident when I complained about being harrassed on the street and he told me that I should be grateful because his mother would love to be hooted at.) ”

      I’ve heard this from women as well. *headdesk* No, it is not a compliment to be followed by skanky men sucking their teeth. Any woman with any sense would know that is not respectful.

  3. Luna_the_cat Says:

    Time for a new boyfriend, just possibly.

  4. Elly Says:

    This is totally victim blaming! how dare he imply its your fault you got harrassed, it’s never your fault and I think you should dump him hard and fast!

  5. sz Says:

    I would like to suggest that he was doing that “man thing” (yes I’m generalising) of trying to find solutions to problems rather than just listening to someone vent/find sympathy like they want to… But actually I just think the boyfriend’s a twat. I wonder would he ever behave like these other guys did?

  6. CK Says:

    i really hope you got rid of him. this is completely unacceptable.

  7. BranchMonster Says:

    My boyfriend requests that I show some skin and understands that when people (men, in particular) decide to try to touch me or exhibit some other lewd reaction, it’s because they have no respect. He did, however, ask that I wouldn’t expect him to step in like some macho bodyguard if I decided to start something over a man misplacing his hands and I respect that in turn. Date a feminist – they’re great boyfriends!

  8. Amy Beth Says:

    Wow, your bf is a douchebag. I’d reconsider dating him. No one who loves you should ever treat you with such a lack of empathy.

  9. Lauren Says:

    I would love men to be told they can’t dress as they like to appease others. It is not like you were walking around in a bikini, and if you were because it is damn hot out, you should have that right. All those dudes who go around topless and in shorts (I live in California) don’t have to cover up for aggressive females who objectify them.

    • BranchMonster Says:

      Lauren, I’d love to see how shirtless guys would react if people started grabbing their pecs and saying they were asking for it.

    • Cee Says:

      Even if she were wearing a bikini, it wouldn’t be right. It doesn’t how much or little you cover up–as soon as you cover anything up, you sexualize that body part. Watch how the men react in Saudi Arabia when a woman’s veil slips–they’ll go nuts, hooting and bumping up against the woman. It’s the same idea as if a woman’s top accidentally slipped off in Europe or the States and her breasts were suddenly showing.

      No matter what a woman wears, she has the right not to be harassed.

  10. DianaH Says:

    Not only was his reply extremely, horribly disrespectful to you, but his comment isn’t even fucking accurate. Wearing a burqa does not keep you from getting harassed or felt up. Asshole men are going to be assholes no matter what a woman is wearing.

    I can’t find the original article about sexual harassment of women in hijab in Egypt, but this blog has some info and quotations from the article:

  11. Jessie Says:

    Hey OP, try playing Hey Baby to get out some of your frustrations:

  12. Siobhan Says:

    Go, girl! Wear what you want, I do!

  13. Miranda Says:

    Don’t waste one more minute with a person who doesn’t stand up for you or respect your autonomy. I wasted two years. Dump him. Seriously.

  14. Esmenet Says:

    Might I tactfully suggest breaking up with this boyfriend?

  15. pope suburban Says:

    DTMFA? At least, if he proves he can’t or won’t learn about these issues, and recognize them for the systemic problem they are.

  16. My fault | Aspiringfashionmodel Says:

    […] Failure to communicate « My Fault, I’m FemaleOh yeah, we’re still together and he is becoming a pro feminist, I think it was partly my fault because, although I have always had feminst view points I found that I was very deeply ingrained in certain sexist opinions so much so that I didn’t even realise when it was happening and he’s the same. […]

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