Skip To Content
  • International Women's Day badge

25 Times Literal Children Dealt With Sexism Because That's The Society We Live In

Welp, now I'm pissed off.

Recently, we asked the women of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us the first time they experienced sexism. Here are some of their responses!

Warning: Some submissions contain topics of sexual harassment.

1. "My fourth grade teacher told me that he couldn't help me with math because girls' brains weren't capable of doing math."

contestant on The Bachelor saying "Wait, what?"


2. "My teacher stopped me from playing with the Legos in class, because it was 'The Boy Legos.'"

Warner Bros. Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

"She then handed me a box of 'Girl Legos,' which was mainly just green boards for grass, trees, and an assortment of flowers. I think the most we were allowed to do was build a pink house and put curtains in the windows, then make a pretty garden."


3. "When I was in first grade, the school office had to call a parent because I was sick and needed to go home. At the time, it was much easier to contact my father during the day."

Donna saying "Excuse me" on Parks and Recreation

"I didn't even know an office number for my mom. At first, they simply wouldn't believe me that my mother worked full-time and didn't give me or the school her number. Then they asked if I had the number of an aunt or grandmother or literally any female relative to come take care of me. According to my school, my father couldn't properly be trusted to come take me home when sick, and my mother was a bad mother for assuming he could."


4. "I was regularly beat up in elementary school. The teacher and principal did nothing, telling me that I was 'being dramatic' and needed to stop 'antagonizing the boys.'"

Deborah saying "That's sexist" in Making History

"I didn't understand why I was called bratty or attention-seeking when I hit back, but the boys who shoved me into garbage cans and gave me black eyes were 'just playing around.' It wasn't until I was in middle school that I made the connection that as a female, it was my duty to put up with harassment because boys weren't expected to control themselves. I'm still horrified and disgusted by my elementary school so-called teachers to this day."


5. "It’s a classic, but the teachers, from when we were 6, would ask for 'strong boys' whenever they needed something carried to another place."

Erica saying "Really dude?" on The Goldbergs

"This is particularly infuriating because there is no biological difference in strength between boys and girls until puberty. I was stronger than all the boys because I did swimming training and later competitive swimming from the age of 5, but they continued to ignore the girls."


6. "The summer after first grade (I was 7), I went to Vacation Bible School. We had our picture taken, boys with a baseball bat and girls with a fairy wand. I asked to take my picture with the baseball bat instead but was told no. My expression is completely deadpan holding some ribbon wand."

girl holding plastic wand with no expression
Laflor / Getty Images

7. "I remember my dad telling me when I was younger that women are just naturally bad drivers so I had to be more cautious than my brother driving, because I was more likely to get into an accident when I got my license."

Cher driving and looking back, grimacing
Paramount Pictures

8. "In my house growing up, we didn’t talk about periods and had to hide our period products from my stepfather."

Walter on Blunt Talk saying "It's natural, it happens"

"I couldn’t even ask my mum for painkillers because I had cramps without being told we don’t talk about ‘those things in this house.' At school, you asked a friend for a pad, painkillers, or tampon and half the room would offer you them, even teachers. I got my period at 10, so I spent 10 years hiding my period because it offended him somehow."


9. "I wasn’t even cognizant for it, but apparently when I was an infant, my dad’s friend came to visit and said to him, 'You’re lucky she looks like you and not your wife, otherwise I’d have to call dibs on her when she’s 18!'"

Cady looking grossed out in Mean Girls
Paramount Pictures

"Like...he said that about a BABY. He and my dad aren’t friends anymore, suffice to say."


10. "A boy in my class took it upon himself to 'explain' how basketball is scored to me. I played basketball in the local YMCA league; I was pretty clear on how the game worked."

Veronica saying, "I beg your misogynistic pardon?" on Riverdale
The CW

11. "In kindergarten, I had the best behavior that week."

Snow White being pulled by birds

"I got to take something from the prize box, but I had to close my eyes. I ended up picking a kazoo with a picture of Mater from Cars on it, and I was happy because that was my favorite movie. But then my teacher took it back and gave me a Snow White one because 'those were for the boys.' I had never seen Snow White."


12. "Asking for the Matchbox cars instead of the dolls at McDonald’s and being told that those were 'boy toys.'"

contestant on "Married at First Sight" looking annoyed
Nine Network

13. "In middle school, when there was construction going on across the street from us...our crossing guard noticed the workers regularly catcalling and hitting on us 13-year-olds."

Cam on Modern Family saying, "That's messed up"

"She told the school. Our school then made girls who were in tanks or anything that 'showed too much skin' wear a baggy shirt from the lost and found. Probably the first time I realized men could really do anything without consequences while we had to 'cover up.'"


14. "When I was in middle school, I used to be stalked by this boy. He’d go everywhere I was, and even when I hid in the girl’s bathroom, he’d be outside waiting for me."

Grace on Manifest saying "Just stay away"

"I knew about three other girls he followed, but I was the only one who said anything. I told my parents, who told my vice principal, to which the VP told my parents that I was the one enticing the boy! Saying I would mess with him during lunch...So for a whole year, I would starve myself and not eat lunch just to lessen the chances I had of running into him."


15. "I developed earlier than some girls. In the sixth grade, the boys ganged up on me and snapped my bra straps until they broke."

girl with her head down on her desk
Luminola / Getty Images

"I went into the bathroom and put the bra in my coat pocket, but the boys attacked again when I came out...and stole my bra and hung it on the monkey bars. None of them got in trouble, but my friend that tried to help and I both got suspended and I was told not to wear a bra for the remainder of the year because it was a temptation."


16. "I was 5 maybe and I had just gotten back from getting a haircut so I could donate my hair, and I was super excited, thinking I was gonna help someone."

Harley cutting her hair in Birds of Prey
Warner Bros. Pictures

"Got to my Mawmaw's and her first words were, 'What did you do with my pretty granddaughter? Little girls have to have long pretty hair.' Then she tried to give me and my mom the cold shoulder. Eventually, she kinda eased off me but refused to speak to my mother for weeks. So I didn't get more than the shortest possible trim until I was like 13 or 14? And when I chopped it off that time, it was more a desperate, 'Well, maybe I don't always like being a girl if this is what I get' moment and I didn't want to be a 'pretty proper lady' anymore. I was terrified and cried a lot when it was done because I loved it, but knew my Mawmaw would freeze me out again."


17. "I wanted to play flag football with the boys at recess, but the recess monitor said girls weren't allowed to."

girl playing football
Kevin Dodge / Getty Images

"She let one girl play because she was 'tough enough' to keep up with the boys, but I was too skinny. When I did play, I was agile enough to score and evade 'tackles,' but that wasn't good enough for the monitor. It taught me early on that because I was viewed as weak, I would never be allowed to be level with the boys. I then pursued being smart instead of athletic, even when I had potential."


18. "At 11, I walked down the street with my father. A car passed. My father nudged me and said see, he couldn't stop looking at you. He did this when I was catcalled too."

Ilana and Abbi getting cat-called and called pretty on Broad City
Comedy Central

19. "I was about 12 years old and my mom and I went to a home improvement store to pick out new carpet for my room. We found what we liked and told the salesman. He asked if my dad was with us, and when we told him no, he refused to put in our order."

woman pointing to carpets at carpet store
Valeriy_g / Getty Images

"He then gave us a sample square of the carpet to take home and told us that we needed to go have 'the man of the house' approve of what we picked out. When he approved, we could come back in and he would put in the order."


20. "I was the first grandchild, and then the next four grandchildren were boys. When we’d all get presents from grandma, they’d get scooters, Hot Wheels toy cars, and mini footballs, and I’d be given Barbies and Polly Pockets."

two girls playing with Barbies
Yvonne Hemsey / Getty Images

"I wanted the cars and scooters SO bad because all the boys were playing together and having fun and because I was raised with boys, so I was more interested in cars and sports and scooters anyways. But I never was given 'boys' toys no matter how much I asked, because I was a girl."


21. "When I was like 8 or 9, I really liked Captain America and had posters and action figures all over my room."

Captain America
Zade Rosenthal / Disney / courtesy Everett Collection

"I had multiple family members tell me it wasn't girly, but my grandma actually tore them all down and put up posters of Barbie and Justin Beiber. Then, when I was around 11, I wanted to get a pixie [haircut] but wasn't allowed because men like girls with long hair. It's no surprise that I grew up to be gay and a huge activist lol."


22. "Kindergarten, NJ 1994: We were doing a dress-up thing for future careers. I wanted to take the doctor outfit and was told by the teacher girls couldn't be doctors; only nurses."

female nurse
Luis Alvarez / Getty Images

23. "I was 9 years old and I was at Walmart with my mom. I was in the bag/jewelry section and my mom was in the women’s. A man came over and said 'nice ass.' I ran to my mom and told her what happened. My mom went and slapped him and called security."

Gru looking shocked in Despicable Me
Universal Pictures

24. "When I was in eighth grade, I got a chance to go to the US Court of Appeals to see a case."

Stanley saying "What is wrong with you?" on The Office

"I was super excited because I was thinking I wanted to be a lawyer at the time. My conservative Catholic mom helped me pick out an outfit that would be appropriate for the hearing: a white blouse, a plaid pencil skirt that was about an inch above my knees, and black flats. Before the hearing, we met up with the lawyers and I sat in the corner as they went over a few things with my dad and one of his coworkers...During the meeting, one of the lawyers stopped, turned to me, and said, 'I'm sorry, but your outfit is very distracting. Next time, don't dress in such a revealing manner. Your skirt is much too short for someone your age. Oh, and don't wear a blouse that brings attention to your chest.'

I was 13 and a grown-ass man was sexualizing me even though I was dressed fairly modestly. Not to mention he had no comments for the son of my dad's coworker who was coming to the hearing in jeans and a black T-shirt. My dream of wanting to be a lawyer died that day."


25. And finally, "Anytime someone added 'for a girl' at the end of a sentence (for example, you play this video game well for a girl, or you're really smart for a girl)."

Ham shouting "you play ball like a girl" in The Sandlot
20th Century Fox

Submissions have been edited for length/clarity.

BuzzFeed Daily

Keep up with the latest daily buzz with the BuzzFeed Daily newsletter!

Newsletter signup form