Here's the thing... you guys the #EverydaySexism hashtag makes me feel bad. About myself. Page 3? Nah, doesn't apply because I never wanted to be a Page 3 model (unlike some girls in my secondary school yearbook, at the time I thought it was a joke but now I think it was sincere). Fashion? I love it and it never occurred to me I would or should look like a model. Lads mags? Nope, their content and attitude maybe makes me feel sad but not about myself.
I rarely feel guilt, but I wonder if I should feel guilty about this. Does this reduce me to those annoying commenters who were so kind as to wonder in comment form why Ellie Cosgrave didn't simply elbow her sexual assaulter in the ribs, or yell, or ask for help from her fellow passengers? Oh you should be flattered!
Any person who has been flashed or assaulted in such a way can tell you that at least one person, on hearing the story, laughed. They will make you feel silly for minding. They will tell you what they would have done, the incredibly snappy one liner they'd have cracked out. Right before they kicked him in the nuts and you are silly for not doing as they would have done. And then they would have felt flattered.
There is also the discomfort people would rather experience than help you. I was once chased down a narrow lane and across a road and, well, I guess people thought we were playing a game of It and helping me would have spoiled the fun.
I think there's value, if you feel frustration, in being able to air it in a safe space
Do I think it is bad manners to shout anything at a stranger - unless it is something along the lines of 'mind that car!'? yes. Do I think it is bad manners to pass comment on someone's body, complimentary or not, or sexist? Hm, I think it is sexist when the comment is rude and a result of a sexism in society even if it is flattering. It is a sign that, even though the intention might not have been to intimidate, that men believe it is up to them to pass judgement.
Yes, some of these #EverydaySexism quotes are vulgar and nasty. It would fair put the wind up me if someone did shout about their salty intentions for me, or announced their appreciation of a body part (usually my elbows, they're darling) from across the street. However if a guy yelled I was beautiful I'd think nothing of it, other than how am I going to milk this story for another year or so. I still tell people about the time I walked into a gay bar in Bradford and a man crossed the bar to inform me I was beautiful. I'm telling you now. I'll tell you again.
"As far as our bodies go, I think The only sexist problem is the media...Men and shouting lusty comments in the street...I don't think that should cloud the debate. That's not about them being sexist, it's about them being oafs; and all we can do is plan to bring our own sons up with better manners."
I think there's value, if you feel frustration, in being able to air it in a safe space and right now #EverydaySexism is that space. But Victoria Coren is right, we do need to bring our sons up with better manners, with concern over consent, with an ability to see sexism and a willingness to take responsibility and criticism.
And not wang their members about on public transport.