For me personally, it began at birth.
I was identified as a female, by being clothed in pink, ribbons, bows and frills.
I was an attractive ornament whilst still in nappies. And this is when I was first sexually abused by my Uncle.
As a toddler. I wasn't allowed to play in the mud (Unlike my brothers) in-case I got my dresses dirty.
Every adult around me- only ever commented on how pretty I was. My mother taught me domestic duties,cooking,washing and cleaning. This was my role- as it was my mothers. Whilst my brothers relished their freedom, from such drudgery. My mothers kitchen was my prison, as it was hers. At school, I was berated for drawing horror, unlike the boys. I was told that girls should only paint 'nice things'. When I asked my Dad about the car engine he was working on- He told me that 'I shouldn't be interested in engines because I was a girl'. I was not allowed to ride a motorbike, because I was a girl. Only my brothers were allowed.
Between the ages of six and eight, I was sexually abused by my mothers boyfriend. He told me that it was my fault, because I was so pretty. It was also the first time that anyone had told me that I was a good girl. As I grew, lots of older boys sexually abused me. When I became a teenager, mother would urge me to 'marry a rich man' To be looked after- In return for my obedience and his sexual gratification. I was surrounded by gender roles. My mother, the women and older girls around me. The advertisements on television,radio,newspapers and magazines (including teen mags).
The local porn cinema and shop, where only the 'dirty old men' would go and jerk off. Became popular with young men who took their girlfriends to 'Be taught- how men like to be gratified. The Sun newspaper had begun it's daily breasts. Which birthed millions of other sexualised images of women. The movie 'Deep throat' began it's rounds. Porn was becoming mainstream and normalised. Male strangers would lust over the 'page 3 lovelies' And project those sexualised images onto girls like me. "Get your tits out!" "I bet you wished you had jugs like these!" "Take your top off!" "You know you want it!" Are just some of the disrespectful comments that were directed at me by builders and the like. If I ever complained. I would then receive insults. "Lighten up you frigid bitch!" " What's up- you a lesbian or something!" "You know you love it!"
This 'Humour' was verbal abuse, used as a controlling method to shut me up and deflect the blame onto me. It was my fault that I was receiving these unwanted sexist remarks. Because I was too sensitive and easily offended. This was 'Sexualised oppression' This was being silenced by the masses of men that could enjoy the male privilege openly. Because these sexualised images of women were being normalised into society. Therefore it must be legitimate. It must be validated and permitted to sexually harrass females. Because here they are- bare breasted, sexually explicit, wanting to gratify men sexually. So we can justify harassing women in the street - They are all the same.
When I was sixteen years old, I was persuaded to get into modelling by a man. He said that I was too pretty to be wasted. I applied to a model job advert that he gave to me, and subsequently got an interview. Unfortunately, I was duped. I was trafficked into pornography and prostitution. The men thought that they had the right to beat, threaten and rape me, in order to control and force me to do these horrendous acts. I was helped to escape by a man who raped me and tried to make me his property.
Years down the line, I have suffered sexism and still do. Now, pornography has seeped into every media possible. You cannot read,watch or listen to music,without sexism rearing it's ugly, oppressive head. Good female role models like athletes, inventors, mountain climbers,astronauts, scientists etc.. Are pushed into the background or never heard of. I have to actively seek them out to demonstrate to my Granddaughter. But young, sexualised images that often depict pseudo gang rape,fellatio or domestic violence. Are being glamorised and crept into adverts for shoes, handbags or cars. Many young girls are imitating 'Role models' Like Miley Cyrus or Beyonce. In mainstream movies, rapes only usually occur on young, nubile women. And sex scenes usually comprise of naked young women and clothed/semi clothed men.
Girls play with sexualised dolls and are sold padded bra's and slutty clothes. Many girls are only valued for their looks and not by their talents, intelligence and attributes. And of course there is an innumerable amount of pornography on the internet, which is glamorised and often- A child's only source of sex education. In reality, pornography is prostitution. And many of the performers are trafficked,drug addicts and child abuse victims. Pornographers feed the lies that women enjoy sexual violence and being degraded and abused.
Even now, as I am in my fifties, I suffer sexism. Whether at work, online or only recently in a shop, where I chose a newspaper.
Standing next to me were two builders holding the sun newspaper, opened at page 3. And as I felt their eyes on my body, I was overwhelmed with personal memories. The degradation and disrespect of being leered at and being only viewed as a sexual object. I do not want my daughter or my granddaughter to have to feel this. To expect this..To accept this.