‘It is unnerving and unfair’: I was bet on by multiple men on holiday

Seriously, am I a horse?

I am angry about the conversations  we are still needing to have about the treatment of  women and their safety in society.

After the high of International Women’s Day we saw the vindication of Meghan Markle, the tragic death of Sarah Everard, and the scenes at Clapham Common. All before rounding it off with celebrating Mother’s Day.

It sadly doesn’t end with the stories we see on the news, as a Sheffield student I have experienced harassment and it is something that should never happen to anyone.  

In Barcelona, summer 2019, I was 18 and enjoying a night out having a drink in a few bars.

It started with unwanted attention from a 25 year old man, then a more aggressive conversation with an even older man who made it his life mission to make me and my friends about as uncomfortable as possible.

We decided to leave. 

As we were leaving the 25 year old pulled my arm and demanded that I kiss him and proceeded to say: ”Oh but please I have €20 on you in a bet with my mates” 

Initially, I brushed the experience off but talking about it with friends, I found it was common. Durham student, Rosie*,  told us her similar story: “There were comments made in a group chat of Durham students that made me worry about my safety.

“As a woman it is unnerving and unfair that we are made to seem like a game, or a prize to be won, by fellow students”. 

Another woman Emily*, who also wished to remain anonymous, came forward stating that she had men bet £5 each on whether any of them could have sexual contact with her: “It made me question my self worth” she said. 

Anna*, yet another woman impacted by these bets, said: “At a party in sixth form two boys were fighting to talk to me and being overly friendly” despite not being ‘close friends’ she later found they had a £10 bet on who could kiss her first. “I was fuming, I confronted them and they just laughed, they had no idea that at that moment they reduced me to an object.”

There is only one thing for us women to do… it’s time to behave like the objects we are being reduced down to. I suggest we do the following things to stop men treating us this way anymore. This is both empowering AND fun.

Firstly, we should gallop in all public places. If this horse-like approach doesn’t deter them, even slightly, then I’m not sure what will.

Second, we should neigh at random points in conversations. You’ll have their head spinning at this point.

Then if you ever witness betting conversations again, if you feel safe to do so, wade in and state what is wrong with their view, in the hopes of them changing their views. Tell them that women are never to be bet on because we are people not objects. Before turning around and swishing your ponytail at them and trotting away. 

My comical approach to this is to highlight how ridiculous this is. I never want this to happen to anyone ever again. Degrading women to objects is just simply sexist. We are not your game, currency or object to be used and abused. 

Men, we need you with us, not betting against us.

*Names changed upon request for anonymity.

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