The Vagenda

15 thoughts on “Questions From a Sixteen Year Old Girl

  1. Well said, Grace. I’m in my 40s and I still don’t know the answer to those questions. But you can resist and there are lovely men and women who will support you when you do.

  2. Not being funny, Buuut, this doesn’t really ‘go on’ unless you want it to… you take your blokes name, if you WANT to… you are just picking at answered questions that have been gone over for years since before you were born. Just calm down, forget about it, and realise you’re being a bit OTT as you only have to have these things if you want to…. Basically, don’t winge about age old things that there’s no point in winging about…

    • That is just rude, dismissive and patronising.

      Of course you don’t have to take your husband’s name these days but it is still seen as the traditional thing to do, which is what the writer is questioning.

      Not to mention all her other incisive questions – clear and simple and straight to the point.

    • I have no intention of calming down when I walk off the tube and some guy thinks it’s acceptable to grope my tits on his way past me. at 6pm. In MAIDA VALE. (They are my tits. Tits that will eventually be used to feed a loving child. Or Balance my breakfast. Whatever, they are not your tits to comment on. Fuck you.) I do not want to calm down when my body, and my friends bodies, get treated like public property on a minute by minute basis by the general public. There is every point in ‘winging’ about behaviour that is so totally unacceptable, and acceptance of said behaviour, or ‘forgetting about it’ only leads to its encouragement.

      And Grace I think you are awesome. Please keep writing. Smileyface.

  3. Yes yes yes Grace!

    And Rachael, I think that Grace is probably switched on enough to know that she doesn’t have to put up with all of these things if she doesn’t want to, she isn’t whining, merely pointing out that all of these things happen still and most women do put up with it all. And some of it we have little or no control over, it’s going to take a lot of time for people to finally accept that wearing a short skirt does not necessarily mean you want to shag anyone you see.

    SO Grace, don’t ever calm down and don’t forget about it! If no one ever questioned things they thought were wrong the world would come to a standstill.

  4. Some interesting qs but regarding the surname thing, the name you think of as ‘yours’ isn’t at all, it’s actually your Dad’s (unless he took your Mother’s name). So I don’t think there’s much ‘feminist merit’ in keeping your Dads name over changing to your new Husband’s, it’s a name that originated through a male line.

  5. I thought we might have a few more original questions too, though. Without wanting to be patronising.

    You don’t have to accept drinks at a bar, a nice smile and a “thank you, I prefer to buy my own drinks” is enough (and wise if you think about date rape drugs and so on)

    You don’t have to take your husband’s surname – I know at least 3 men who have taken their wife’s surname, and 2 other couples who combined their existing surnames into something new.

    If you walk along a main road, you might be being beeped at if the car drivers think it’s dangerous. On the other hand, they are probably just unreconstructed men beeping their horn at a pretty girl. Ignore it. But if you are out on your own and cars beep at you, there is a very small chance that you might encounter that car at the next traffic light or something. Remain vigilant and safe.

    If someone gropes you, grab his wrist (don’t look, don’t react in any other way) raise it as high as you can and as loudly as possible shout “does anyone know who this hand belongs to? I found it on my tit/bum” (on the other hand, you have to be scarily confident to do that. I’ve only ever needed to do it once)

    Short clothing is a difficult one. I have teenage daughters (14 and 15) and we’re treading this line with them. On the one hand you should be allowed (haha, free is the right word) to wear what you want. Your clothes are a way for you to express yourself. On the other hand: it is a simple fact that the more of your legs/clevage certain men see, the more of an invitation they consider it. There is nothing we can do about that except persevere with educating the men we know and just keep on and on with it. And, much as it pains me, a lot of how people behave towards you has to do with the way you behave yourself. It’s a tightrope a lot of us have spent all our lives walking, but it does get easier to handle as you get older.

    Our number of sexual partners is a stick that we will be beaten with for many more years to come. I’ve always advised my girls that discretion is the better part of valour and never ever to get into those discussions about how many people you have slept with, no matter who is asking you (unless it’s me, “but I’m your mum and I love you anyway”)

    Feel sorry for men who call you a dyke or a lezzer or frigid or whavever. I was a soldier, and I lost count of the fat, ugly, sweaty drunk men who propositioned me and when turned down shouted to the world at large that I must be a lezzer. It’s an “affront” to their maleness to be either turned down by you, or to realise that you find them underwhelming, or – worse for a lot of men – that you believe that everyone is equal whether their reproductive organs are internal or external. Brush it off with a laugh if you can. Or work out a withering reply (I’ve never managed to work one out though)

    Keep on chipping away at equality. Because we’re worth it ;)

  6. thanks, Keith.

    From a male point-of-view (because it’s a discussion I’ve been having elsewhere on the internet) can you shed some light on this sending-over-drinks thing? I’ve been in bars and people (I sometimes have never found out from whence they came) have sent drinks over but then not actually come over to talk or anything. I don’t feel that it’s always nefarious :)

  7. Re the clothing thing – some commentators are missing the point. It’s being inferred that skimpy clothing will attract unwonted attention. I was followed last Sat while wearing a maxi dress with my jacket buttoned up to my neck. It’s not the clothing, it’s the fact that you are a solitary woman walking home so, QED, you’re asking for it. So Grace, stay angry (a bellowed FUCK OFF worked in my case) but unfortunately it carries on whatever the age. I’m 48 & I’ll see you on the next Slutwalk/Reclaim the Night march sister!

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