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It’s Become The Norm For Women To Feel Unsafe At The Gym And Here’s Why That’s Not Okay

Forgive us for stating the obvious, but women have to go through a lot of bullsh*t. Whether it’s unequal pay in the workplace, discrimination or sexism in the workplace, having to constantly deal with unsolicited advice about our bodies, getting cat-called out on the streets, being slut-shamed or whatever-shamed — women just have to deal with A LOT.

This is not to sound like we’re complaining (even though we have the right to), but it’s exhausting to have to navigate our daily lives this way.

So you can see why it’s even more infuriating that we can’t even feel safe when going to the gym because men always feel entitled to stare at women, try to make passes at women at the gym, or just be downright creepy.

Lately, more women have shared on social media their thoughts about feeling unsafe at the gym and how they cope with these feelings.

Twitter user @clarisa_leona shared on the platform that while she was at the gym, a girl came up to her and pretended to know her, gave her a hug and suggested she play along because she had overheard two men plan on following her to her car. “We need to stick together ladies,” she added in the tweet.

It’s experiences like this that leave a bad taste in a woman’s mouth and almost make us not want to step foot outside because of the fear that men will continue to make us feel uncomfortable and unsafe.

FIERCE also shared the tweet in an Instagram post in August and many women opened up about their own similar experiences. Many women commented that they too had also been approached by a random woman who was simply trying to look out for them at the gym, grocery stores, or just out and about. In some cases, men stood up for these women too.

“When I was pregnant some dude at the grocery kept following me around talking loudly about pregnant porn,” one Instagram user commented. “Two big high school football players in letterman jackets came up and said ‘hey mom, can we go now?’ and walked me out of the store. They told me their dad was also in the store and was making sure we weren’t followed.”

On Twitter, many women are constantly sharing their feelings about men approaching them at the gym or making them feel uncomfortable.

One woman on Twitter wrote that men should mind their own business and “stop staring at women that are just trying to have a regular workout.” Behavior like this makes women feel unsafe, uncomfortable, and men need to learn to just let women live.

Another woman on Twitter reversed the roles and tweeted that she wonders if men who also wear “tight pants” or “muscle tops” feel unsafe at the gym because they might be sending the “wrong sexual message to women.”

Women should be able to wear whatever it is they want when at the gym without feeling sexualized. Point blank.

Twitter user @zul_franchesca said in a tweet that she leaves places “IMMEDIATELY when [she] feels uncomfortable.”

“Never make eye contact and never say a word,” she wrote in the tweet. “I cannot go to the gym without getting looks and smiles. fuck this. I should never have to feel unsafe or scared. be very aware of your surroundings! & not just women!”

Men also go as far as taking photos of women working out at the gym which is downright disgusting and completely wrong.

“Enough is enough…. women should not feel uncomfortable or unsafe leaving their house to do everyday tasks,” Liera Bender wrote on Twitter. This is so true, it’s one thing to stare but to take photos and videos of women at the gym or to follow women around in other public spaces is just not OKAY. In what world is this ever okay?

But alas, the audacity of men is outstanding and we feel like a broken record trying to make our concerns heard.

“No one should have to feel unsafe while just trying to work out,” one Twitter user wrote.

Sometimes it gets so bad for women we even decide to switch gyms because they feel “unsafe” and “very uncomfortable.”

This woman shared on Twitter that she switched gyms because she was tired of dealing with the “same creepy-ass male stares and getting followed around the gym.”

Another Twitter user even shared the importance of being to communicate through sign language to gesture people to help you out if you ever feel uncomfortable at the bar or the gym.

“This is one sign I think everyone, especially women, should know,” the woman on Twitter wrote. “It’s a simple gesture that anyone can do when they’re feeling uncomfortable/unsafe at the bar, gym, etc.”

A woman on Twitter also shared that she has to go as far as asking the manager at the gym to let her know if the “coast is clear” for her to go to the gym.

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again, it’s not OKAY for women to feel this way. Hold yourself accountable, men,

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

A Latina Firefighter in Boston Says the Department Retaliated Against Her When She Reported That She Was Sexually Assaulted by a Colleague

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A Latina Firefighter in Boston Says the Department Retaliated Against Her When She Reported That She Was Sexually Assaulted by a Colleague

Credit: Screenshot via CBS/WBZ

A former female firefighter was just given a settlement of $3.2 million by the city of Boston for what she characterized as a culture of sexual harassment, shaming, and silencing. Nathalie Fontanez says she was retaliated against by the Boston Fire Department for reporting a sexual assault she experienced at the hands of a colleague.

In 2018, Fontanez says she was sexually assaulted by fellow firefighter David Sanchez.

It all began when Fontanez joined the Boston Fire Department in 2011. The department was looking to hire fluent Spanish speakers, and Fontanez considered the opportunity a “golden ticket”. It was an opportunity for her, a single mom, to provide for her daughter without the assistance of welfare. And, she could prove to her daughter that women can do anything.

But Fontanez’s dream soon turned into a nightmare. After joining the department, she faced an inordinate amount of hazing and harassment because she was a woman and a Latina.

“I’m not a veteran. I’m not a man. I’m a Latin woman. If there was a totem pole, I was at the very bottom,” she explained. “I felt that I had to tolerate anything that came my way, because I was lucky to be there,” she said.

Per Fontanez, the incidents escalated until the day in question when she was assaulted at the firehouse by Sanchez.

After reporting the incident to her superiors, she says that her colleagues turned on her.

In a recent press conference, Fontanez explained the experience in more detail. “Incidents began to escalate and I was then shamed and labeled a trouble-maker,” she said. “The guys that I once relied on for my life’s safety now turned against me.”

While Sanchez was convicted of assault and battery and sentenced to two years of probation, Fontanez says that she was harassed and isolated by her station mates. According to her, the retaliation also included being denied a promotion and being ignored at social events.

“I was often reminded by some of my colleagues that I had taken a job from a man who could have been providing for his family, even though I was a single parent providing for mine,” she said.

Last month, the city settled with Fontanez for $3.2 million. But Fontanez says it’s not about the money–it’s about changing the toxic culture of firehouses. 

“I’m breaking my silence because I believe that women firefighters deserve equal treatment in the Boston Fire Department,” Fontanez said during the news conference. “However, at this point that is the dream, but not the reality, for many women firefighters. The department is overdue for change, and the time for change is now.”

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Women Share The Moments They Regreted Staying Silent In Uncomfortable Situations

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Women Share The Moments They Regreted Staying Silent In Uncomfortable Situations

Ponomariova_Maria /Getty

Sexual harassment and assault of women is rampant across every country, culture, workplace, and industry. Sadly, it’s common for women to have to endure harassment and for comfort sake’s or a desire to remain safe, stay quiet. Recently, women on Twitter shared what it’s like to have to be quiet in uncomfortable situations they realize are harmful or unsafe.

 *Trigger Warning: the stories in this piece deal with sexual harassment and assault.*

They’re also sharing their personal, horrifying stories.

Check them out below.

“This is a terrible feeling. A couple years ago I went into a neurologist’s office for an EEG, which involved attaching dozens of electrodes to my scalp. The tech who was attaching them told me how silky my hair was. Began asking me questions about whether I was single, if I ever planned to have kids. Later, he asked me my weight. Told me I was too thin (I had a BMI of 22-23) and that men liked women with more weight on them. I was 33 years old, and for the first time in my life—after growing up in a highly abusive, silencing household—I spoke up. Told him how unprofessional he was being, and that I would file a complaint. He said, ‘Do what you need to do.’ And then I did. I filed that goddamn complaint with shaking hands. It felt awful and uncomfortable and I have no regrets about doing it. I hope it made a difference.” –ennovahs

“This is the worst part of being a victim. The urge to make it go away, you want to believe if you move on, you can’t be upset by it. But it doesn’t work like that, it just hits the snooze button. Enough shitty moments like that and your jenga tower comes down and you turn into a salty bitter person that loses faith in humanity and it’s so much harder to heal from later than if you do something and process it now, enforce your boundaries now. It also like, primes you to let it happen again the next time. You let this one slide, and then someone else does something else inappropriate later and it’s like “where do I draw the line? I didn’t say something that other time”. And then when you finally reach the limit, all the other times you let people violate your boundaries without saying something haunt you and you can’t tell if it’s your fault or theirs Take care of yourself by honoring and enforcing your own boundaries. Don’t create additional pain you’ll have to heal from later with your own self-betrayal. You are worth the effort it takes to file a report, even when it’s exhausting. Is there a way you could offer to help her file? Like figuring out how to do it and helping her fill it out? If she says no, that’s her right. But I feel like so often we get betrayed twice, once by others and once by ourselves.” –valicat

“I got felt up by my masseuse and then he asked for my phone number. I just froze said I have a boyfriend and went to pay. Later I was telling my friend about it in a haha can you believe that happened and my friend looked at me all serious and said, so you were sexually assaulted, tipped him for it then want to laugh about it. I started crying and then went through the hell of having to report him and getting his license revoked.” –pulchritudinousss

“We should complain, though. For our sisters. My company offered an in-house massage therapist. Nothing like saving up coffee breaks for a proper massage! But he was … personal without being sleezy, like, “Nice breasts for a woman your age” said in a neutral tone of voice. He also liked to be rough when massaging. I like a hard massage, but the other stuff wasn’t right. When he offered to give me massages as his private office (elsewhere in town), my gut instinct kicked in and I said no, and I also stopped seeing him at work. A month later, he was gone. Somebody else had complained. I was disappointed in myself for not speaking up. I hadn’t overreacted about him and it wasn’t just me.”-ThinkbigShrinktofit

“As a woman who kept quiet when people did or said things to me that made me uncomfortable until I was in my 40s (all in the name of avoiding confrontation, not upsetting the other person, wanting to be liked, etc.), it took one really bad experience to finally realize that enough was enough. People are going to be shitty and there isn’t anything I can do that will change how shitty of a person they are. But, I can actually start telling them how unacceptable their behavior is and if it continues to happen, remove them from my life. It’s been rough, trying to speak up when warranted. Sometimes, I come off as pretty harsh. But, people are starting to realize that I’m not going to allow that type of behavior anymore. It has cost me some ‘friendships’ but my life is actually much better off without them in it.” –idreamofgin

“Speaking from experience, I can understand your friend not wanting to do anything. I was getting a physical for the military. The last person I see is this old guy. We are told to strip down to our underwear. This guy is asking all these medical questions, poking and touching. Turn your head and cough stuff. I can’t remember how, but at some point he called me cutie. I later said something to the military person running the facility and it turned into an investigation into me. After being repeatedly told my entry would be delayed, but if I withdrew my “comment” I could ship for basic training. My experience is nothing compared with what a lot of what women go through in similar situations. Every time I hear of a rape, I think about how much more horrible it would be. Any woman that comes forward and presses charges is braver than I ever could be.” –Barbuckles

“Went to take my husband to work and the man at the check station pointed out my tongue ring and made vaguely sexual statements about it like how I ‘must be fun.’ Insanely inappropriate. I was a little bitch so I cried when I got home. I did report him but he still worked there through the season.”-hattallb1tch

Uncomfortable Situations
Five women of different nationalities and cultures standing together. Friendship poster, the union of feminists or sisterhood. The concept of gender equality and of the female empowerment movement.

“I had a similar experience. I’d been having intense lower abdominal/pelvis pains and went to get an ultrasound because my doctor was concerned. Went to the place and the guy was being super rough with the thing, and it hurt. I let out a gasp of pain because it had been painful even without someone mashing an ultrasound thingy right in the painful spot, like it felt like someone just stabbed me; and he just laughed and said ‘Don’t get so excited, I haven’t gone that low down yet.’ and winked. Turned my stomach. Like, okay I am no longer comfortable being in a room alone with you, with your hands at hip level. But he seemed so comfortable making such an inappropriate joke that it’s like… this shithead probably gets away with doing it all the time. My boyfriend was furious and just couldn’t understand why I was apathetic about it. It’s something you get used to. Those casual threatening sexual jokes.”- cinnamonbrook

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