Thunder Thighs and Other Insults

Trolling and the treatment of women on and offline has been big news this week thanks to the Twitter Silence and events which proceeded it. My own encounters with such abuse have been in the ‘real world’ have been considerably milder, but still and have been very unpleasant. In truth, I am in awe of Caroline Criado-Perez and so many others for the strength and courage that they have shown in recent weeks, and no doubt continually before in their lives. As my own story shows, I would not have been able to cope.
Back in June when it first started to get sunny I wore a dress to work with bare legs. The sunshine, unsurprisingly, made me feel happy and as I listened to music on the walk, I barely heard the guy shouting “thunder thighs” out of his car window. He shouted it again though, for good measure, so there is no way I misheard him. I kept my control and managed to keep my facial reactions to a raised eyebrow and (I really hope) a look of icy amusement. I went home and after dinner ate quite a lot of chocolate in that automatic, untasting way where there is no pleasure to be had from it at all. The next day I shrugged it off, because how cool do Thunder Thighs sound? But it felt personal and like misogynistic random woman harassing all at once.
Then on the following Friday night I was walking home from work after an extremely hectic and tiring week. A young boy, young enough to not yet be sprouting hair in surprising places, leant out of his car window and shouted “Sweat it you fat fuck”. It was loud, there was no way I was going to mishear this one, even with my headphones in. I thought the car was driving away from my route so felt really horrified when it turned the corner I was going round and the boy shouted it again. I maintained the same icy look I had practiced the week before, but I felt persecuted. I felt persecuted by the fact that he was the second person to do this. I felt persecuted by the fact that the car now appeared to be driving in this direction simply in order to insult me. I felt persecuted because the insult was inherently misogynistic and was not in the least motivated by any real feelings about figure. Had I been model slim no doubt he would have insulted me by critiquing my skinniness. For the rest of the walk home I desperately wished I could jump on the bus, because I was now crying and would not be able to look icy cool if I saw them again. And seeing them again was a very real fear for me.
So I would like to say thank you to the woman who have shouted back, and shown that they will not be silenced by threats and insults.

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