Tag Archives: sexism

Fright night

Walking home at night

So I was walking home last night after a trip to the cinema with my gal pal Becky. Pretty late to the party, I know, but we’d seen Magic Mike, the feminist themes of which make for an ironic backdrop to my forthcoming tale – even more so as a pigeon then shat on her as we left the cinema lauding the film’s positive attributes (and of course many, many negative ones – lern to script, Hollywood).

ANYWAY, I got off the Tube and engaged ‘walking home in the dark’ mode. Women, you probably know how this goes; men, I’ll lay it out for you:

  • If I’m wearing shoes with laces, I make sure they’re tied tightly.
  • If I’m carrying a bag I’ll wear it across my body.
  • Earphones out and phone away, obviously.
  • Keys are pushed between the gaps between my fingers.
  • I choose the streets with the best lighting, the fewest trees and the fewest alleyways, even if this takes longer to get home.
  • As I’m walking I make a mental note of houses with lights on.
  • I make a mental note of the registration plates of any cars that cruise past slowly.
  • I keep my head up and look forwards, walking confidently but constantly alert to anyone else on the pavements, glancing down under streetlights to look for any shadows behind me.
  • As soon as I encounter someone else I run a quick analysis of the following: their height, their build, whether I could fight them, whether I could outrun then, etc etc.

It’s a pretty exhausting business, to be fair, but this is life for a lone woman on the streets at night. Think it all sounds a bit melodramatic? Go find a woman right now and ask her how many of the above she does on the reg.

Yup. It’s that many.

So I’m walking home, and as I come to the crossroads by my street I see a man up ahead, walking in the same direction as I am. He’s got his hood up, his head down and I can hear the tinny blaring of music coming from his shitty earphones. He might as well be wearing an Oculus Rift for how engaged with his surroundings he is. But he’s quite short and thin, and I don’t really view him as a risk.

The problem is, he’s shuffling along in such an apparently stupefied state that I’m soon going to catch up with him. I could cross the road (which to be fair is something I’m always grateful blokes do if they find the roles reversed in such a situation) but then I’d just have to cross back again to get home and there are four men on the other side of the street having a lot of loud banter and it would be dumb to walk straight into them. RISK ASSESMENT, see?

So I decide to just pick up the pace and overtake Shuffles (doing so on the outside of the pavement, of course), but as I do, he apparently changes his mind about where he’s going, spins around and in his surprise at seeing me lets out an almighty yell, which startles me so much I scream and step back into what I like to think was a Mortal Kombat pose but probably just looked like a cat having a sneeze.

“Jesus Christ!” he shouted at me. He couldn’t have been more than 21. “You need to be a bit more considerate when you’re walking around at night. FUCK.”

And then he walked off, leaving me with my keys in my shaking fist, my eyes dancing around the shadows and still a long way from home.

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Rachel and Becky’s Monster Adventure

Saturday night in London

Once upon a time there were two girls, called R and B.

R and B lived in a great sprawling city – the grandest and most expensive in all the land – so the girls had to work long, tiring hours in order to survive. R and B had been friends for many years, but because they each worked so hard they didn’t see each other as often as they wanted to. They looked forward to their meetings a great deal, knowing that their time together was special.

This is the story of their latest meeting, and of a group of nasty trolls far more sinister and dangerous than any you’d find under a bridge in other fairy tales.

R and B had been for dinner, and were in a bar discussing their long, tiring jobs, when the first troll lumbered into their conversation.

“I really like your hair,” it slurred at R, without so much as an introduction. “Are you too, like, together?”

The girls told the troll that while they were indeed at the bar together, they were not together in the way that very often agitates such trolls into an excitable frenzy. They resumed their conversation, and the troll briefly disappeared.

Suddenly, R was aware of a great looming presence behind her, and as she turned around, the troll thrust a piece of greasy paper into her hands, before scurrying away. On it, in illegible, childish handwriting, was the troll’s name and a phone number, followed by the request: ‘Let’s go for drinks as friends even’. The girls laughed in disbelief, and decided to go to another bar.

But as they waited patiently at a bus stop, chatting comfortably about many things, another troll appeared, shouting and flapping and making a terrible noise at the girls. R and B tried to ignore it, but when the troll’s loud squawking became too intrusive, they politely asked the troll to be leave them be, since they were talking.

“You girls can talk on your own time,” screeched the troll. And as the girls expressed their displeasure at such a bewildering notion, it yelled, louder still: “BUT IT’S NOT MY FAULT YOU’RE BOTH SO BEAUTIFUL.”

Exasperated, the girls left the bus stop and decided to walk to their destination, leaving the flapping troll barking desperately in their wake.

They walked along, talking about the trolls they’d encountered, and trying not to let it spoil their night, when they heard shouting. Both of the girls suddenly felt very uneasy, because this shouting was familiar to both of them. Their hearts sank as they looked up and saw yet another troll, hanging out of a lorry, yelling.

“Go away!” the girls shouted back. “Don’t you have anything better to do than shout at girls on dark roads?”

But the troll simply smirked, and kept shouting.

Angry and upset, the girls flagged down a passing cab to take them to their destination. The driver asked them all about their night so far, and the girls told him about all the trolls they’d had the misfortune to come across. The driver was sympathetic, and the girls were relieved.

But their relief was short-lived, because the driver then looked in his mirror at one of the girls, licked his lips and said: “I suppose this is because you’re single?” And with a great rush of horror, the girls realised that he, too, was a troll – the worst of all the trolls, for on the outside they appear to be just like normal people. But how they fool everyone!

R and B quickly left the cab, and went to another bar. They ordered their drinks and sat down, relieved to be away from the horrible trolls that were ruining their night. But before they could relax, another troll reared its ugly head.

“Do you like Sean Paul?” the troll inexplicably asked R.

“No, I actually really don’t like his music,” she replied, and with that the troll turned around and announced to his troll friends: “Don’t bother with this one, she’s a massive bitch.”

R and B did their best to ignore the troll gang, and tried to change the subject, but they soon found that all they could talk about now was the trolls, and how sad they felt about them, rather than the things they had wanted to talk about originally.

Eventually, the bar closed, and R and B decided to go to one more place. After all, they’d not had much of a chance to talk since they’d spent so much time battling all these horrible monsters!

They arrived at their destination and sat down, once again talking between themselves and not doing anything at all to attract the attention of possible trolls. But oh no! There was one in the corner, staring at the girls. And there was another one, dancing far too close to the girls and making them feel very uncomfortable. And there was another! And another! The whole place was full of trolls, and when R returned from a brief visit to the bathroom, B told her a horrible story about how while she was sat by herself, one particularly nasty troll wouldn’t leave her alone despite her asking him to go away six whole times! B even asked the security guard – who is supposed to assist those in distress – to help her, but he did nothing! R and B thought that he was probably a troll too.

And so the girls, angry and upset, decided to go home. And as they sat on the bus they found that they hadn’t talked about very much at all apart from the trolls, and then they found themselves apologising to each other for all the nasty troll business – which doesn’t make very much sense at all, does it!

R and B then decided that next time they have a meeting, it will be somewhere far away from the trolls – like on top of a mountain, or perhaps on the actual fucking moon! The girls thought that maybe there wouldn’t be any monsters there.

The End.

Discussions for reading groups

What is the significance of the simplistic language used throughout the story? Does the writer intend the story to be a cautionary tale for young girls? Or is the story meant to be understood by the trolls themselves, who would perhaps benefit from basic, accessible language? Or both?

Notice the writer never makes any reference to the girls’ appearance, beyond the terms used by the trolls. Why is this?

Some have condemned the writer’s inclusion of a profanity at the end of the story, claiming that it’s unnecessary and indicative of an overreaction on the writer’s part. Do you agree?

Is it misleading to underscore the story with ‘The End’, given that the tale will likely continue for many years to come?

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