Women have opened up about the first time they received unwanted sexual attention and, alarmingly, many of them were still children when it happened.
On Reddit, women have spoken candidly about receiving unsolicited sexual comments from grown men and even young boys. One woman told of how she was just eight years old when a man grabbed her backside in a supermarket.
Their comments highlight a glaring and incredibly disturbing problem we face in society.
Here’s what they had to say...
“I was on a crowded city bus and an elderly man sitting next to me leaned in close to my face and whispered that I had bedroom eyes and tried to kiss me. I was fucking 12! I didn’t even know what bedroom eyes meant!”
“The first that I can remember was when I was in the second grade - so maybe eight? And this guy at a store I was in grabbed my butt and told me he liked it. My mom was standing right next to me but she didn’t see it happen.”
“I was eleven and I was riding my bike down the street. Some high school boys blocked my path, telling me to stop so they could talk to me. They started making comments about my breasts, which had started to come in and it made me super uncomfortable because I was self conscious about going through puberty. I had gotten my period by eleven, I think I was the first amongst my friends.
“Anyway, they were catcalling me and asking me how old I was and thinking I was a liar when I told them the truth. I just wanted to leave because they outnumbered me and the attention made me embarrassed. One of them tried to grab my breasts and I got on my bike and rode away as fast as I could while they laughed and jeered. I just wanted to go home to play Barbies with my friends and these guys scared me.”
“Middle school, I think was the first time I remember things specifically directed at me. A boy in my grade told other people I was a whore... because I wouldn’t show him my barely there boobs. But as early as 4th or 5th grade I can recall comments directed at classmates who had started developing a little earlier than me.”
“I was 13, at the beach with my friend. We were in bikinis. A man (who was fully clothed) came and sat directly in front of my friend and I and held a digital camera out to his side and was either filming and/or taking pictures. We noticed right away and left, but I had never felt so scared and violated. Let alone the fact that I was a child and this man was in his mid thirties.”
“I was seven, walking to class in school. In Russia grades 1-11 are in the same building. Grade 10 boy came up to me and whispered in my ear ‘I am going to rape you.’ I was terrified. I was too embarrassed to say the truth and told my dad that someone threatened to beat me up when he asked why I was crying...he reassured me it wouldn’t happen. If I mentioned the word ‘rape’, my dad would have likely beaten the crap out of the guy. Nothing happened, thankfully.”
“There was a male clerk at a local 7/11 my sister and I would go to. The clerk always made comments towards my sister about how she should smile more because ‘guys like it when girls smile’. The clerk’s assistant one time asked me if we’d like to stick around after his shift to eat ice cream with him. He was around 22 or so and the clerk was probably in his 50s. We told him no and we never went to that 7/11 again. My sister was 16, and I was 13.”
“My now ex step sister used to have this friend who would chase me around the house and dry hump me. I was 14, he was 18.”
“I walked home from school and would get honks and whistles in elementary school (probably around 10 when it started?) and when I was around 12 or 13 a truck of construction workers followed me and my friend home.”
“I was nine and obviously very much a child. A middle-aged stranger stopped me on my way to school and asked me very angrily when I’d finally grow some boobs.”
“When I was 12 I was waiting at a bus stop and a man in his 20s started talking to me. He said I was pretty and asked me for my number. I told him how old I was and he said that was no problem. I got on the bus and thought I’d gotten rid of him, but he followed the bus in his car until I got off and then jumped out and started talking to me again. I finally gave him a fake number so he would go away.”
“19, but my experience is a bit different - where I live, outwardly threatening, sexist behaviour just doesn’t happen. We take our public order very seriously. Then, I moved to the UK for higher education.
“I literally did not realise how bad women elsewhere had it until I lived there. People grabbing [your] arse like it was no big deal when you’re in the club; getting cat-called and jeered at on the streets at night... Even if you’re walking home from the library in your PJs.
“At first, I thought just it was some strange quirk of society there, because I was being exposed to a whole package of new cultural norms. It slowly dawned on me how damned wrong it was, particularly when I got together with my now fiancé. Suddenly, I could walk at night without any crude remarks sent my way only because I had a man escorting me.
“Shit’s tough in your so-called liberal western society. Don’t get me wrong, I love the UK (pseudo-British at heart now), but western societal attitudes to women can be so damned backwards at times, and this is coming from an Asian cross-over.”