I leave my flat to walk to work. On the way some builders wolf-whistle me, then call me a bitch and a whore when I don’t respond.
I stop to buy coffee and a man steps in front of me in the queue, talking loudly into his phone. He doesn’t even acknowledge me.
I get to work and head to my desk past the guy who thinks he’s being nice, but only ever compliments me on my outfit, and only ever when I’m wearing a dress.
A man tries to explain a report to me that I have been running longer than he has been with the company. After telling him three times that I know what I’m doing I end up snapping at him, and he jokes to a colleague that it must be that time of the month.
There is training out on site; I step from the car and the first man I see asks if I’m a secretary. The training takes twice as long as planned, because they interrupt constantly to ask questions that would be answered if they would just listen until I finish speaking.
Back to the office and I take out my afternoon snack. A manager leans over and loudly asks, “are you still eating??” When I refuse to dignify that with an answer, he also mutters about my time of the month.
Finally time to go home. On the way, a randomer stops me and tells me to smile, I would look so pretty if I smiled. When I answer “you bloody smile” and walk off, he calls me names, screaming them down the street until I turn the corner out of his line of sight. If I’m lucky. If he doesn’t grab me, hit me, stab me, shoot me, rape me for not doing as I’m told.
A group of teenage boys are hanging round at the end of my street. They spread out across the pavement when they see me, thinking they can stop me. I have had more than enough so I just keep walking, banging against their shoulders, pushing through. They call me a whore, slut, cunt. They follow me home. Tomorrow I’ll have to come home a different way.
I barely even noticed the billboards and adverts I saw all day long, using skinny, half-naked women to sell anything and everything from beer to clothes to holidays to burgers.
No, I am not imagining it. No, I am not making it up. No, I am not being over-sensitive.
If I had actually been on my period every time my feelings have been dismissed as PMS, I would have bled to death years ago.
If I had a pound for every time a man has assumed the right to command my facial expression, I would no longer have to work.
If I added up all the extra distance I have walked in my life to avoid males who make me feel unsafe, it would reach to Crewe and back. Several times.
Yes, you’re damn right I’m a feminist. Yes, we still need feminism. Because yes, we still have such a long, long way to go.