Is this really what teenage girls should expect to put up with?

(44 Posts)
marchart Wed 07-Aug-13 12:54:30

Dd is 15. She has a fair amount of freedom. Goes on shopping / cinema / day trips with friends. Always home well before dark.

This summer she has been inundated with really horrible male attention. A car with several young men has followed her for a hundred yards or so - calling for her to get in, only stopping when she reached home. On a train journey from Brighton to London with a friend, a middle aged man (with sad eyes, her description) sat opposite them, they were sitting one side of a small table, pulled his penis out and began masturbating. They got off the train, it hadn't even left the station.

Yesterday, on a bus, a guy yelled "oi blondie, come here, you're gorgeous" at her constantly. At the end of our road, just after she got off the bus, another man pulled his penis out and started waving it about.

Each time she has been with a friend.

She seems a mixture of "wtf" and angry. I have told her some men are just vile towards women when they think they can get away with it, and that it is wrong and horrid. But I want to make sure that I am giving her the right advice. For instance, for the man on the train, I said, instead of getting off the train you should have loudly shouted that he was masturbating in order to get peoples' attention. But I not sure what else to say. I am worried she will become worried about going out. I am worried that this is becoming the norm for her as a young woman. I am angry, really angry, that this is happening to a teenage girl. And sad.

Can anyone give me any advice please? Thankyou.

EdBird Sun 29-Sep-13 12:56:29

As a teen in the 80's, I was flashed at, had a man trying to watch me wee through through a grill in a train toilet (I kicked it towards hhis face really hard and he just laughed), probs about 5 men masturbating/willy waving at me, groped in swimming pools, groped one evening on the street (later a sexual assault there that night. I wonder...), mauled by lecturer in college, followed into and chased from taxi by stranger (taxi driver stalled him enough for me to run and hide behind some bins), chased down round at 13 by 3 boys (scary that) Probs other incidents not coming to mind too.
I wouldnt advocate anything other than not reacting and moving away unless in a vulnerable situation when shouting may help or just running anywhere for safety - thinking about it, two occassions when went up to unknown front door and knocked and spoke to householder until creep gone
Same old I am afraid :/

MarshaBrady Sun 29-Sep-13 10:36:08

That is horrible your poor dd. I think the best thinking is wtf? I remember a few sessions of feminism at university helped me and my friends very much.

It was a constant barrage. But wth? with all the penis waving. That is disgusting. We didn't get that, just verbal harrassment.

flow4 Sun 29-Sep-13 10:34:07

It's excellent that your DD's reaction is "a mixture of 'wtf' and anger", and not fear; that's exactly as it should be. Good for her, and good for you for helping her grow up with that sort of self-confidence. smile

This kind of behaviour is not a display of male power, IMO; it's a display of powerlessness. Inadequate men are, and always have been, threatened by women's confidence and beauty. Men like this harass women because they hope to get a reaction of fear or shame that will 'big them up' and make them feel more powerful, or at least less powerless. Wankers (sic) pick on young or otherwise-vulnerable women/girls because they think they're less likely to have the confidence to rebuff them, and more likely to give them the sort of reaction that will 'big them up'.

One of the most useful things for any woman or girl to remember in these sorts of situations, IMO, is that, for him, it's all about his own feelings of powerlessness, not hers. As soon as a man like this realises you're not going to give him a reaction that makes him feel better about himself, he'll move on.

Put-downs work if you know you are and will be physically safe. My mum's friend once said "Hmm, that looks like a prick, only smaller"! But ime you have to be careful about making inadequate men feel more inadequate, because sometimes they'll then attack.

Shaming works in crowded places, if you have the self-confidence to do it. I once made a groper run back down a crowded up escalator by turning on him and shouting "How dare you? Keep your dirty hands to yourself!"

I wouldn't recommend taking photos, personally. Firstly because stopping and obscuring your own eyes with a phone/camera potentially makes you more vulnerable, and secondly because you are giving the man positive attention and potentially 'bigging him up', which is what he wants.

IMO, ignoring is very often the best tactic, or treating his behaviour as if it's beyond the pale - the equivalent of "Did you mean to be so rude?!" These are, in effect, nasty little boys who haven't grown up, who use penises, words and whistling instead of worms to try to make girls scream. They need to be taken seriously because they're now big and strong enough to be dangerous; but it is always worth remembering that whistling, words and willies are in themselves no more dangerous than worms!

valiumredhead Sun 29-Sep-13 09:29:34

Sounds the same a my teenage yearssad

Wishfulmakeupping Sun 29-Sep-13 08:59:08

Your poor dd hope she's not too shaken up.
I remember being really scared when I was flashed I was about 16 and was walking to my friends house at teatime. I was just frozen didn't shout I didn't know what to do luckily another man came round the corner and although he couldn't see what was happening he could see my expression and shouted up the road 'are you ok luv' and the pervert ran off. Wish I'd reported him now but I didn't feel like I could but worry he's done it to other girls since.
When I told my friends about it they all had similar experiences esp on public transport.
Hope your dd is ok

OddBoots Sun 29-Sep-13 08:44:48

Please tell her and anyone else that the British Transport Police are specifically targeting this criminal behaviour under Project Guardian. If it is reported they will check CCTV and aim to get a prosecution.

link

magicstars Sun 29-Sep-13 08:23:20

Your poor dd, this kind of treatment is horrible. I was flashed at several times (5+) between the ages of 14& 21. I still cringe at the thought of a grown man making comments about my boobs when I was about 15 and out shopping with my dad. They would pretend to think I was older than I was making it 'ok'. I was regularly shouted at and abused in the street when living in France for a year as a student. Groped, trapped in a toilet, a man tried to hit me in a shop when I told him where to go etc...
I took to really covering myself up and avoiding eye contact with men When out and wearing a (fake) wedding ring helped.
It could be an unfortunate knock on effect of the stereotypical porn actress look- young, blonde with big boobs. Some men want to believe that all young women who look vaguely like that are, in their mind 'sluts' confused
She just needs to be very assertive with them and conscious of her safety, sticking with friends when out.

BadSeedsAddict Sun 29-Sep-13 08:13:18

It does sound like your daughter has been unlucky over a short space of time; really sorry you're having to go through this. I like the sound of martial arts and taking photos of license plates, shouting "I'm a minor" and so on. I remember having plenty of hassle when I was younger, and nobody having spoken to me about what to do about it. It's great that she's able to come to you about this and that you are getting help for her. I have two young DDs and this thread has made me really think about how they are likely to be treated when they get older, and what they need to know about how to handle it.

TunipTheUnconquerable Sun 29-Sep-13 08:07:09

I think it is very important to report it to the train company because they need to be made to acknowledge there is a problem with the behaviour of a few men making public transport feel unsafe for women.
It's in their interests to make it a safe space by making women aware that they will be supported if they report, and making the perpetrators realise won't be tolerated.

SanityClause Sun 29-Sep-13 08:02:28

Can I suggest that people report these incidents to the Everyday Sexism Project

TunipTheUnconquerable Sun 29-Sep-13 08:00:39

I was going to post same as Curlew.
I've heard too many stories of a whole carriage/bus full of people putting their heads down and completely ignoring women who try to name and shame, and then she ends up being more upset by the lack of help than by the flashing itself. Getting off the train was the right thing to do IMO, and I also agree that police are generally pretty good about flashers: I would think the best thing would be to either leave the carriage and find the guard, or get off the train and go to the police/people in charge at the station.
Once you're confident you can carry off shouting back in the face of no support it's more of an option.

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Sun 29-Sep-13 07:54:32

Thank goodness the police take it seriously now. I am shocked by how many of you have experienced this behaviour, I had but not as much as a lot of you.
My DD does judo, hopefully that will be good self defence if she is ever unfortunate enough to need it.

curlew Sun 29-Sep-13 07:49:08

I have a teen girl and this happens to her too. She's a red head which makes her a double target.

I'm going to go against the tide and say I don't think they should shout "fuck off" or "wanker" or anything like that. For a lot of reasons, some practical, some less so. Firstly, if it doesn't work, and the situation escalates, which it probably won't, but might, she is less likely to get support or help from others if she is perceived to be aggressive- sad, but true. Secondly, it's hard to shout things like that confidently if you're not used to doing it, and this is not the time to discover that it makes her cry or giggle because she's nervous. And thirdly, on the grounds of not letting other people make you behave in ways you don't want to. Why should the fact that a man is being a bastard make you shout swear words in public when you wouldn't normally?

I think you have to be super confident to rely on being able to "name and shame" and I don't think most 15 year olds are. Sadly, once you are confident enough to do that sort of thing you don't get the opportunity to shame the bastards because they will have moved onto younger, more vulnerable women.

If she feels brave enough, a loud, clear "Please take your hands off me" is good for a groper. For the train incident, find the guard. And for people following in a car, take pictures, making sure you get the number plate and tell the police.

Jenny70 Sun 29-Sep-13 07:26:08

Another with a me too tale, and not blonde or slim... I completely ignored it. when I told my mum (now 75) she had it too as a young girl, maybe 12, - she told them they had a small dick and laughed at them! The police were most amazed at her front!

TwllBach Sun 29-Sep-13 07:17:20

Oh it's so depressing. I was a teenager not so long ago and it happened to me too. It made me sad ad nervous and scared and self conscious back then, but it makes me livid now. How fucking dare they??

I wonder if your dd might benefit from seeing this thread? Certainly for me, I've benefitted over the last few years from reading mn threads along similar lines because it taught me it wasn't my fault and I wasn't alone.

satsumagirl Sun 29-Sep-13 07:00:29

Self defence course is a great idea. It'll give your daughter confidence. On a similar note, is there some kind of assertiveness course for teenage girls? Anything that makes her feel more confident and that she can handle herself will have a positive effect here. smile

Bloody perverts. I remember loads of things like this happening to me as a teenager. To the pervs I say 'jog on, bozos.'

Iheartcrunchiebars Sun 29-Sep-13 06:58:09

The police told me once that they take any case of flashing incredibly seriously as most rapists start off as flashers. So definitely tell the police. (And also remember that if you get flashed alone and somewhere not in public).

I think your reaction alone will have helped your daughter. I know people who've told their parents only to be told not to tell anyone and made to feel like its their fault and its had a serious impact on their lives.

It's about time people saw flashers as sex offenders and not in this wierd jokey way. It's refreshing to hear what people on this thread this as most people I know seem to treat it as a joke.

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Sun 29-Sep-13 06:43:57

My usual put down when I saw a willy on display was 'God,I've never realised how small they were'

borninastorm Sun 29-Sep-13 01:28:24

In my younger years I was groped on a bus, rubbed up against on a packed train and had several willies waved at me.

I dealt with it by doing nothing until the final time a man waved his willy in my face. I was abroad with a girlfriend and he walked past us on a quiet road at night and stuck his hand up my skirt. I immediately faced up to him and shouted at him. Then I noticed he was wanking and that made me even madder. My friend was standing in the middle of the road screaming while I shouted over and over at this man to "get to fuck you stupid wanker". He ran off pretty quickly.

That's the one incident that doesn't bother me when I picture it.

So I've taught my DD who's 14 now to shout and shame in any situation like that. I've told her if she's in a public place and a man gropes her to shout at him "did you mean to grope my boob/arse, etc?". If a man waves his willy at her in a public place where there are other people to point it out to everybody as loudly as possible.

However if she is ever alone in any of these situations I have told her to run away cos that's what the police advised us all to do when I went on a self defence course.

And now I'm going to tell her to use her phone to obviously take pictures or video them.

It is so wrong that our daughter's still experience this.

lrosemurray Sun 29-Sep-13 01:07:47

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

mathanxiety Tue 13-Aug-13 06:30:34

What VenusRising said. Does she have a phone?

She needs to make it very obvious that she is taking photos and also photos of licence plates, and to make it obvious that she is calling someone to report right there and then.

I would be very worried that a car full of wankers now knows where she lives. If she could duck into a shop or some other place that would be safer than going straight home if this happens again.

When DD1 and DD2 were approached by creeps trying to lure them into cars (separate occasions) the police told them to use their phones and to shout 'I'm a minor' plus any other stuff they cared to shout. When perverts in cars are caught their defence is they had no idea the girl was a minor. So DD1 and DD2 were told to shout that they were minors. Neither one of them had enough presence of mind to whip out their phones and the police were disappointed they had no reliable vehicle description or plate number to run through their computer. Men in cars know what they are doing when they follow someone and lure them. Potential victims need to know what they should do too and should rehearse it and not be afraid of being loud.

Martial arts are absolutely no use and it should never get to the point where your DD has to be involved in any physical confrontation. She will lose against a fit young man no matter how good she is unless she is Olympic champion. Young men are simply a lot stronger than most teenage girls. Even older men are. Even older men with sad eyes and pathetic lives.

Pachacuti Thu 08-Aug-13 20:34:47

But remember, everyone, we "don't really need feminism any more".

Encourage her to be angry. This behaviour is not OK and she doesn't need to put up with it.

marchart Thu 08-Aug-13 12:40:48

Thank you all for the replies.

To be honest, it's a depressing read. But it has given me some thoughts of possible ways forward.

I am going to contact dd's head of year at school, explain the situation, and ask if a police officer can visit the school and give some advice about what to do in this sort of situation. I don't want to advise dd to take photos etc if the police suggest that this could actually put her in danger. I am also to encourage her again to be far more vocal next time this happens to her.

I shall come back and update this thread. Thank you again.

PaleHousewifeOfCumbriaCounty Thu 08-Aug-13 12:10:08

This is really sad sad
Why do almost all women have a tale to tell?

LynetteScavo Thu 08-Aug-13 12:06:01

Just to give you all a bit of hope, I was whistled last year, which I obviously ignored. I then heard the mans friends say "You shouldn't do that. Women don't like it." So maybe we are getting somewhere. [hopeful]

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