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A reporter’s experience of sexist abuse

“She looks like a prostitute,” was a comment aimed at me by two men as I was walking out of my local supermarket.

It was about 2pm on a Saturday and I was wearing a suit that I wore to work. There was a group of them in the shop causing a fuss by throwing items around from the shelves and in the company of some younger girls as they said it.

Jenny Beake, Lynn News reporter
Jenny Beake, Lynn News reporter

I thought about saying something but just thought ‘what’s the point, do I need the confrontation,’ but I felt alarmed by it.

‘You stuck up c**t’.

These were the delightful words that greeted me one morning at 8am when I was at a bank machine near to where I live.

Woman hiding her face and showing gesture stop (IStock)
Woman hiding her face and showing gesture stop (IStock)

I was in a rush and on my way to work and not concentrating on anything other than getting some money out.

There was a lot of noise around with people saying good morning and a loud lorry delivery behind me.

Not realising that a man was saying good morning to me I turned to get into my car and there he was at the entrance to the shop, shouting those very words at me.

Shocked and upset, I confronted him and went in to the shop to report to the staff, who said there is nothing they can do as it was outside.

I said I would call the police and he became loud and aggressive, saying ‘call the police then, call the police’ as if he wanted some extra drama.

As it would make me late for work, I considered it and
decided against it. I got into my car and drove to work, promptly burst into tears and told my boss.

I have always regretted not phoning 101 to report it as I worry that if this man is able to say it to me is he also using this aggressive sexual language to younger females?

I wonder if he would say this to a man in the same circumstance.

I truly believe it is because I am female and that I was on my own.

Other experiences include being touched inappropriately by a male colleague at a previous job, ‘return of sex toys’ being written on my wage slip and bank statement, ‘show me your pussy’ shouted in the street when I was with an older female family member on a Sunday at 3pm, and being followed in daylight by a man on my way home from work.

I have received abusive text messages from an ex who is now married with two children.

Some may feel I need to toughen up and may feel these are just things we need to put up with.

But when added up it paints a picture of what it can be like as a female.

Why should I and other females have to tolerate it?

I welcome the action from the police in taking steps to realise that women and girls deserve more respect and safety.

It is welcomed that there is a law change regarding this type of behaviour which we have for too long passed off as innocuous.

It is welcome to see Norfolk Police taking a hard stance against this behaviour. It is time for girls, women, boys and men to all take this stance.

I am always up for a laugh and an innuendo here and there, and I recognise that I may too have to adapt my own behaviour, but let’s wherever and whenever possible start calling out unwanted behaviour.

STOP abuse by using this approach:

Say something: Calling out the behaviour if safe to do so.

Tell someone: You can report the behaviour to someone in charge, for example a member of bar staff

Offer support: You can support the victim and others intervening

Provide a diversion: You could create a distraction to interrupt what’s happening.

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