Thursday, October 26, 2017

Me too

The first time I remember getting sexually harassed was in sixth grade. Overnight, it felt like, I grew the boobs I have now. Huge. Not only huge compared to the other flat chested girls in my class, but huge compared to grown woman. I hated them at the time. I hated being different from my other girl friends; I hated having to wear a bra when my friends weren't there yet.

And I hated the attention from the boys in my class. And Jeez Louise, there was a lot of it. I was the first girl to really get boobs, and the boys were obsessed.  They would follow me around asking if they could touch them. One boy asked if he could try to "palm" one of them. I still am not sure what that means.

While the boys were obsessed with them, the mean remarks from girls were just as bad. One girl who I thought was a friend downright bullied me, I realize now. She would follow me home from school just making fun of the fact that I was wearing a bra.

The teachers in school had to have known what was going on. But I didn't say anything to anyone, not even my parents or siblings. What were they going to do? It's not like anyone could make my boobs go away.

With the social media movement last week (woman putting "me too" on their social media if they had, too, been harassed), it got me thinking of that experience as a kid. Of course there was other examples of sexual harassment that I have been through...including one from a much older man in high school in which no one believed me and I even went to the police about...the one in sixth grade is different, though, because I know I should have just stood up for myself. I should have told those boys off, or told on them, or told my dad, or something. Those boys were young, and it was their first experience being disgusting sexist pigs. I'm hoping they changed (I think most of them have).

But this movement on social media has got me thinking about just how unfair it is. As a sixth grade girl, why was I even in the position where I would have to stand up for myself like that? And now, as a grown woman, I can't even go for a run down my street without some guy hollering out me from his car window. Or, when my coworkers and I walk to Walgreens over a lunch break, we get catcalls several times during one five block walk. NOT OKAY. Why are we put in that position where we have to awkwardly ignore those kinds of things? I would be willing to bet that every single day I encounter some sort of interaction where I am uncomfortable with what is going on but I just ignore it, or giggle and walk away, as to protect the harasser from being embarrassed about his behavior.

In high school when I had the issue with the much older man, I was told to just be quiet about it because it would get him in legal trouble and he was foreign. I was 17 and told to let him continue to be inappropriate with me because he would be forced to leave the country. And guess what. I shut up about it. Then, when he started doing the same thing to my sister, I couldn't deal and I went to the police. I'm honestly not sure what happened after that. But again, as a woman, I was told just to deal with it.

This entry is getting away from me. Maybe I should have just left it as this: Me too.

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