Yup, Me Too.

When I try to think back to when it first happened to me, I can still picture exactly where my desk was (front left corner of the room near the windows) and how my skin crawled having him sit behind me. It was rumored among all of us 6th graders that he was repeating the 6th grade for, like, the 4th time and that he was somehow twenty years old and drove to school.

I mean, he did have a mustache already.

While I am positive most of those rumors were false, he didn’t do much to discourage them. He was bigger than all the other boys in the class, he had longish black hair (plus that mustache), and he seemed to know a lot about S-E-X.

Which is probably why he was always touching us girls. I absolutely hated having my desk in front of his because it meant that at any given time, his pervy finger would slide down my back as he “checked” for a bra strap. The girls he found one on would get a snap. Whether he found one or not, he would be sure to make a comment about how “oh. you are so grown up with your bra,” or “going all loose, huh?”

It was disgusting and made me feel skeeved out and unsafe.

I was relieved he did not return to our school for 7th grade.

The first time I told this story was last weekend on my way to St. Louis with my friend, The Pastor’s Wife. I had never said anything before–not even to the girls who were in the class with me even though I knew it was happening to them too.

And I never told an adult for fear that somehow I would be told it was not that big of a deal, I must be mistaken, or–even worse–that it was somehow my own fault.

The adults in my life didn’t do anything to make me feel like I couldn’t come forward, but society had told me that somehow girls got what they attracted. And if the pervy kid was touching me–even if it was just my back–somehow it was my fault.

So I said nothing.

In high school and college it got worse.

I went to a lot of rock concerts (over a hundred, but no one is counting). Almost every one of them involved guys grabbing at me, trying to get in my pants, or saying lewd things to me. I even saw some of my own guy friends cop feels of girls as they walked by in tiny shorts or teeny tops. Guys I was supposed to trust. Guys I came with because I thought they would take care of me.

I learned very quickly I had to take care of myself.

My concert uniform was jeans, steel-toed boots, and an over-sized concert T-shirt (not of the band I was seeing though. I was not that crazy fan. And I never wore my new merch the next day to school. I didn’t want to seem like a fangirl. I was legit, yo. I washed that shirt a bunch and made it look old and like I didn’t care about it before I put a flannel over it, so if you asked when I got it, I could act all nonchalant. I did the 90’s attitude very well, my friends). But let me be clear: I could have showed up to every show in a g-string bikini and those guys had no right to touch me. But I was learning about taking precautions out of fear.

I developed a stance as I wiggled through the crowds of sweaty dudes to get to the front. I learned to raise my knee to crotches when I felt a hand, or to kick shins with my big boots. I learned to stick my finger in someone’s eye if I needed to crowd surf (which I only did if I felt unsafe and that I was going to get crushed or seriously molested because crowd surfing opened you up to so many pervy hands. And I always always stayed on my back. I never rolled to my front).

The dudes at these concerts had the idea that because the concert-goers were mostly male, if a female came along, they were somehow allowed–expected–to grope her.

And this is average guys. Not famous ones.

Do you know what the culture of celebrity is? Especially male celebrity?

Take what you want. It’s yours.

Including women’s bodies.

It’s all owed to you because you are so famous and everyone loves you and you have all this power.

Yes, it’s disappointing to see politicians and journalists and other celebrities get fired because they were pervs at one time (if not currently) in their career, but they made that choice. And they  made it because society basically told them, “it’s cool. It’s expected. You’ll never get caught or held responsible.”

 

I hope that norm is ending now.

I hope that all these allegations are going to make a real change in Hollywood and in all areas where men have power.

Guys who abuse their power and prey on women should be afraid that they might be next.

It’s not that difficult; don’t touch women. Have some impulse control.

This is why we teach our kids that you don’t get to touch anybody’s body without permission, and if they say “no,” you STOP.

It’s why when the boys are wresting and one wants to stop, we make a big deal about complying with that request.

It’s why when our kids don’t want to hug or kiss someone (even us), we don’t make them. They do not owe anyone their bodies.

And no one owes them theirs.

I never want to find out that Alice has these stories. I never want to find out Eddie or Charlie have these stories…or were the reason someone has these stories.

In the meantime, I pray that we change this culture of misogyny and sexual assault.

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