Another realisation I did when reading everyday sexism.
I would rather not go swimming. I love swimming and I used to do it all the time, but I have not done it in years. The things around swimming are tricky: my eyes get irritated from the chlorine and it takes ages for my hair to dry and it takes even longer for my hair to stop being a crow’s nest… Those things are all legitimate reasons, but there is also something else. I would rather not go to a pool or to the beach…in a swimsuit or bikini.
When I was twelve I already looked pretty mature and when I was about fourteen years old I was pretty much done growing. Even back then there were guys – whom I did not know – who would approach me and ask me questions: How old are you? Where do you live? What is your phone number / msn? I would sometimes answer the first question, but the other stuff was none of their business. I did not realise it back then, but I later knew that they were flirting with me.
Okay, that is not too bad. Except that those guys were often much older than me and that they did not leave me alone when I asked them to. When I was older I started to see what was going on and I would notice it more often. One time I was at the pool with a friend when a group of three guys kept following us. They kept bothering us and when we walked to another pool they followed and started jumping over our heads from the edge of the pool. We walked off and went to sit in the grass somewhere. Another time I went with my family. Some middle-aged guy was following me and kept staring at me. He did not approach me, I did not even give him the change, because I had run back to my mother. Even that he kept hanging around until we went home.
I get approached at other places. It is usually unwanted attention. It is just that is happens way more often at the swimming pool and at the beach than anywhere else. When I am at the pool or at the beach, wearing just my swimsuit or bikini, I feel vulnerable… and I feel so dirty when I am being stared at. That is why I would rather not go swimming.