Being A Girl: A Brief Personal History of Violence

3 Dec

1.

I am six. My babysitter’s son, who is five but a whole head taller than me, likes to show me his penis. He does it when his mother isn’t looking. One time when I tell him not to, he holds me down and puts penis on my arm. I bite his shoulder, hard. He starts crying, pulls up his pants and runs upstairs to tell his mother that I bit him. I’m too embarrassed to tell anyone about the penis part, so they all just think I bit him for no reason.

I get in trouble first at the babysitter’s house, then later at home.

The next time the babysitter’s son tries to show me his penis, I don’t fight back because I don’t want to get in trouble.

One day I tell the babysitter what her son does, she tells me that he’s just a little boy, he doesn’t know any better. I can tell that she’s angry at me, and I don’t know why. Later that day, when my mother comes to pick me up, the babysitter hugs me too hard and says how jealous she is because she only has sons and she wishes she had a daughter as sweet as me.

One day when we’re playing in the backyard he tells me very seriously that he might kill me one day and I believe him.

2.

I am in the second grade and our classroom has a weird open-concept thing going on, and the fourth wall is actually the hallway to the gym. All day long, we surreptitiously watch the other grades file past on the way to and from the gym. We are supposed to ignore most of them. The only class we are not supposed to ignore is Monsieur Pierre’s grade six class.

Every time Monsieur Pierre walks by, we are supposed to chorus “Bonjour, Monsieur Sexiste.” We are instructed to do this by our impossibly beautiful teacher, Madame Lemieux. She tells us that Monsieur Pierre, a dapper man with grey hair and a moustache, is sexist because he won’t let the girls in his class play hockey. She is the first person I have ever heard use the word sexist.

The word sounds very serious when she says it. She looks around the class to make sure everyone is paying attention and her voice gets intense and sort of tight.

“Girls can play hockey. Girls can do anything that boys do,” she tells us.

We don’t really believe her. For one thing, girls don’t play hockey. Everyone in the NHL – including our hero Mario Lemieux, who we sometimes whisper might be our teacher’s brother or cousin or even husband – is a boy. But we accept that maybe sixth grade girls can play hockey in gym class, so we do what she asks.

Mostly what I remember is the smile that spreads across Monsieur Pierre’s face whenever we call him a sexist. It is not the smile of someone who is ashamed; it is the smile of someone who finds us adorable in our outrage.

3.

Later that same year a man walks into Montreal’s École Polytechnique and kills fourteen women. He kills them because he hates feminists. He kills them because they are going to be engineers, because they go to school, because they take up space. He kills them because he thinks they have stolen something that is rightfully his. He kills them because they were women.

Everything about the day is grey: the sky, the rain, the street, the concrete side of the École Polytechnique, the pictures of the fourteen girls that they print in the newspaper. My mother’s face is grey. It’s winter, and the air tastes like water drunk from a tin cup.

Madame Lemieux doesn’t tell us to call Monsieur Pierre a sexist anymore. Maybe he lets the girls play hockey now. Or maybe she is afraid.

Girls can do anything that boys do but it turns out that sometimes they get killed for it.

4.

I am fourteen and my classmate’s mother is killed by her boyfriend. He stabs her to death. In the newspaper they call it a crime of passion. When she comes back to school, she doesn’t talk about it. When she does mention her mother it’s always in the present tense – “my mom says” or “my mom thinks” – as if she is still alive. She transfers schools the next year because her father lives across town in a different school district.

Passion. As if murder is the same thing as spreading rose petals on your bed or eating dinner by candlelight or kissing through the credits of a movie.

5.

Men start to say things to me on the street, sometimes loudly enough that everyone around us can hear, but not always. Sometimes they mutter quietly, so that I’m the only one who knows. So that if I react, I’ll seem like I’m blowing things out of proportion or flat-out making them up. These whispers make me feel complicit in something, although I don’t quite know what.

I feel like I deserve it. I feel like I am asking for it. I feel dirty and ashamed.

I want to stand up for myself and tell these men off, but I am afraid. I am angry that I’m such a baby about it. I feel like if I were braver, they wouldn’t be able to get away with it. Eventually I screw up enough courage and tell a man to leave me alone; I deliberately keep my voice steady and unemotional, trying to make it sound more like a command than a request. He grabs my wrist and calls me a fucking bitch.

After that I don’t talk back anymore. Instead I just smile weakly; sometimes I duck my head and whisper thank you. I quicken my steps and hurry away until one time a man yells don’t you fucking run away and starts to follow me.

After that I always try to keep my pace even, my breath slow. Like how they tell you that if you ever see a bear you shouldn’t run, you should just slowly back away until he can’t see you.

I think that these men, like dogs, can smell my fear.

6.

On my eighteenth birthday my cousin takes me out clubbing. While we’re dancing, a man comes up behind me and starts fiddling with the straps on my flouncy black dress. But he’s sort of dancing with me and this is my first time ever at a club and I want to play it cool, so I don’t say anything. Then he pulls the straps all the way down and everyone laughs as I scramble to cover my chest.

At a concert a man comes up behind me and slides his hand around me and starts playing with my nipple while he kisses my neck. By the time I’ve got enough wiggle room to turn around, he’s gone.

At my friend’s birthday party a gay man grabs my breasts and tells everyone that he’s allowed to do it because he’s not into girls. I laugh because everyone else laughs because what else are you supposed to do?

Men press up against me on the subway, on the bus, once even in a crowd at a protest. Their hands dangle casually, sometimes brushing up against my crotch or my ass. One time it’s so bad that I complain to the bus driver and he makes the man get off the bus but then he tells me that if I don’t like the attention maybe I shouldn’t wear such short skirts.

7.

I get a job as a patient-sitter, someone who sits with hospital patients who are in danger of pulling out their IVs or hurting themselves or even running away. The shifts are twelve hours and there is no real training, but the pay is good.

Lots of male patients masturbate in front of me. Some of them are obvious, which is actually kind of better because then I can call a nurse. Some of them are less obvious, and then the nurses don’t really care. When that happens, I just bury my head in a book and pretend I don’t know what they’re doing.

One time an elderly man asks me to fix his pillow and when I bend over him to do that he grabs my hand and puts it on his dick.

When I call my supervisor to complain she says that I shouldn’t be upset because he didn’t know what he was doing.

8.

A man walks into an Amish school, tells all the little girls to line up against the chalkboard, and starts shooting.

A man walks into a sorority house and starts shooting.

A man walks into a theatre because the movie was written by a feminist and starts shooting.

A man walks into Planned Parenthood and starts shooting.

A man walks into.

9.

I start writing about feminism on the internet, and within a few months I start getting angry comments from men. Not death threats, exactly, but still scary. Scary because of how huge and real their rage is. Scary because they swear they don’t hate women, they just think women like me need to be put in their place.

I get to a point where the comments – and even the occasional violent threat – become routine. I joke about them. I think of them as a strange badge of honour, like I’m in some kind of club. The club for women who get threats from men.

It’s not really funny.

10.

Someone makes a death threat against my son.

I don’t tell anyone right away because I feel like it is my fault – my fault for being too loud, too outspoken, too obviously a parent.

When I do finally start telling people, most of them are sympathetic. But a few women say stuff like “this is why I don’t share anything about my children online,” or “this is why I don’t post any pictures of my child.”

Even when a man makes a choice to threaten a small child it is still, somehow, a woman’s fault.

11.

I try not to be afraid.

I am still afraid.

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The author, age 7

 

1,149 Responses to “Being A Girl: A Brief Personal History of Violence”

  1. The Melanin Lady December 13, 2015 at 10:07 pm #

    Totally makes sense and moves me, especially because I recently started remembering indecent assaults that happened to me when I was as little as 4…I still don’t have the courage to share my stories…maybe one day I will find my voice:-(

  2. morselsandscraps December 13, 2015 at 10:46 pm #

    What a document of abuse. Thank you for spelling it out so clearly.

  3. Sahar December 13, 2015 at 10:51 pm #

    Thank you for sharing! I find these stories very disturbing, not because you shared them, but because they happened to you. And I think it’s inspiring, how you are afraid and yet here you are, still sharing, still trying to contribute to changing things for the better. Thank you for that.

  4. paganhomemaker December 13, 2015 at 11:05 pm #

    Reblogged this on thepaganhomemaker.

  5. doodlynn December 14, 2015 at 1:44 am #

    I love this so much! All I could do was cry, scream and whisper “yes!” to this.

  6. Liss December 14, 2015 at 4:04 am #

    Thank you for writing this. It made me realize something that happened to me long ago was inappropriate, but I shook it off at the time. I truly appreciate your thoughts.

  7. Meg December 14, 2015 at 4:23 am #

    1. I am four. My godbrother and my sister are seven. We are playing Atari in his bedroom. While we wait for my sister to finish her turn he says he has something to show me under his doona. He gets in an awkward position and puts something soft in my mouth. My sister asked what we were doing and he said it was a secret. Despite the fact that he continues initiating these confusing games, or perhaps even because we play secret games, he continues to be my favourite person to play with.

    2. I am five or six. My godbrother and my sister are about eight. We are having a bath together. Our mums are in the kitchen chatting. I can hear their voices. My sister gets out. My godbrother asks me to bend over so he can like my ‘browneye’. I say I don’t want to. It is naughty and we might get in trouble. He falls me a chicken and says it willbe fun. My mum enters the bathroom and starts yelling. I told her I was looking for the bathplug. She may or may not have believed me. The secret games stop and I am relieved relieved.

    3. I am eight. My mum asks my sister and I if we like our uncle’s teenage step son and if we would feel safe with him babysitting us. We say yes. Before we leave she gives us a big lecture about personal safety and making sure we understand we have to stay together the whole time he is babysitting us and not to let him touch us, undress us or make any secrets with us. It dawned on me that my godbrother did very bad things with me and maybe I was going to be damaged because of it. I felt confused and sick in the stomach and I didn’t sleep for the rest of the week in the lead up to the day the teenage boy was going to babysit me. I certain my babysitter will try to molest me. I am extra kind to my sister so she might feel inclined to protect me from him. He turns out to be great. He teaches me me how to my sister’s hair.

    4. I am ten. My mum is in tears because my Uncle Stephen’s ex wife has accused him of molesting his step daughter . Mum asks my sister and I if he ever touched us inappropriately. I said no. I loved my Uncle Stephen and I am sad I won’t see him while he is in prison. She goes to court with him to hear the evidence against him. She hears his defense: he was just tickling the girl, with her brother, while they both had their shirts off. She decides he is innocent and she takes us to his low-security prison farm to visit him in a show of solidarity.

    5. I am fourteen. My drug-addicted godbrother is seventeen and in a group home for delinquents. He is charged with gang rape of a girl in their group home. He insist it was consensual group sex, and the girl cried rape when the social worker walked in and caught them in the act. My mother and my sister believe him. I do not. I didn’t know people could have group sex. I had heard of rape but not of gang rape. I am suddenly very frightened of him. I ask my Mum not to give him our new address when we move next month. I tell her I am afraid of him. My sister defends him and refuses to abandon him. My mum tells my sister she can see him but she cannot give him my new address. I feel safe.

    6. I am a sixteen year old exchange student at a festival in Germany waiting in a line for the toilets. Two men make small talk with me about kangaroos. Later I see one of them at the bar and he hands me a drink. My friend asks me why I bought two drinks and I tell her one was given to me. She tells me to tip it out. I feel stupid.

    When I return to the toilet an hour later, someone grabs me from behind, covers my mouth and drags me into the woods. It is one of the kangaroo men. He tries to take off my clothes with one hand while he holds me down, but he wasn’t counting on me wearing thermal underwear and doc martin boots. He is wearing a thick jacket that I can’t bite through, and wedges his forearm into my mouth so I can’t scream. Or breathe. I wish for a moment I had drank his drink so maybe I wouldn’t be awake for this part. My head is freezing cold in the snow. My neck aches. My jaw aches. I resolve to stop fighting for breath, and try to die. After a little while he freaks out and jumps up to see if I am alive. He starts speaking English again. “Hey. Are you waking up?”. I take my opportunity to kick him hard with both feet and I run away through the woods, pulling up my pants. I don’t know if he is chasing me. I don’t know which way is out and I cannot hear the music of the festival anymore. When I run through town everything is closed on a public holiday. When I finally make it back to my host family’s house hours later, nobody is home. I go to the neighbour’s house but their door is locked and they are out too. I go inside my host family’s house and try to phone to call the police but I don’t know the number. I go upstairs and have a shower to warm up. I don’t know anyone else on the street and suddenly I am so tired from fighting and running that I cannot bare the thought of trying to communicate with a stranger. I go to sleep.

    I wake up with a sore jaw, wobbly teeth, some sprained groin muscles and what feels like broken ribs. I go downstairs to tell my host family and I realize that life has just been ticking on as usual. They are smiling and the house is full of chatter. I feel rude interrupting the breakfast conversation with her children. I wait for the right time. I open my mouth. It is never the right moment. I realise if I tell them what happened they’ll tell the police they will tell my mum in Australia. My mum will forever feel responsible for having let me go overseas on exchange in the first place. I’ll have to go home to Australia. My friends will ask why I came home 11 months early from my student exchange. I will never learn german. I decide it is not worth the sacrifice. I am safe now. They can’t help me and he didn’t actually rape me so even if they find him he probably won’t go to jail.
    I develop pneumonia and the next month is spent sleeping upright against a cupboard and wincing every time I cough with broken ribs. I consider this pain karma for not speaking up. Then it all gets better.

    7. I am seventeen. I am in the year twelve common room during a free period at school. I overhear a guy struggling with his homework. He asks his friend for help but his friend doesn’t know the answer. He is an Albanian guy and they have a reputation as tough guys in my school. They are pretty intimidating but I’m a confident girl and I’m not going to be afraid of them because of their reputation. I offer to show him how to find the answer. He is very appreciative and we have a friendly chat. The next week I walk into the common room and it is only him and his friends there. Some of them have spent time in refugee camps overseas and it interrupted their schooling so they are a bit older than the rest of us. They have full beards and they look like the kind of men you wouldn’t want to pass in a dark alley. I almost turn around but my new friend greets me and we start a conversation. His friend asks me my name and I tell him it is Meg. He asks “Do you fuck Meg? If you do, get on the table and spread your legs. If you don’t, get the fuck out of here”. Our mutual friend defended me and said “She’s cool bro”. He apologised for his friend. I slowly backed out of the room. Ironically, I ran to the girl’s toilets to calm down and gather my thoughts.

    8. I am seventeen and walking alone to the bus stop after language school. A drunken hobo starts walking alongside me making conversation. I politely converse with him and try to cross the road. As I wait for a break in traffic, he asks me if I’ll come with him to Coles. I say no, and lie about meeting up with my father. He pushes me to the ground and tries to drag me by my schoolbag in the direction of Coles. I freak out and stop thinking rationally. He is frail and feeble and I could get up and run but I feel frozen. A boy from my school walks past me and looks at me battling with the hobo but he keeps walking. I pull the man onto the ground, grab my Impulse body spray from my Country Road bag and spray him in the eyes. He started crying and shouts “You’re not a nice girl!”. I realise he was very mentally unwell and the spray in the eyes was probably overkill. I run back to my school. I find the Albanian boys hanging out the front and I tell them everything that happened. They all run off and leave me alone. I am worried they might bash the hobo to death. They don’t. The next week at school I find out that they bashed the boy who witnessed it but didn’t help me. I have an enemy I didn’t ask for and protectors I don’t trust.

    9. I am nineteen at university. My mother phones me from work, she is hysterical. She has learned that my Uncle Stephen has taken off with his 16-year-old step daughter from his second marriage. Apparently they are in love and have been in a secret relationship for four years. My mum apologises for putting me at risk. She feels sick about it and begs me to tell her the truth. I told her the truth. My Uncle Stephen never touched me inappropriately but my godbrother did many times when we were little. She said was referring to more serious matters, not child’s play. I said no, there was nothing like that.

    10. I am twenty-one and bringing my partner of three years to home to my Dad’s farm over Christmas. My Dad refuses to let us sleep in the same room, even though we live together. Meanwhile, my Dad allows my 16-year-old brother and his 14-year-old girl friend to have a room to themselves.

    11. I am twenty-three. I have just ended a five-year relationship and have been single a few months. I meet a fun guy at a street festival. He invites my friend and I back to an after-party at his house and we kiss for hours. I leave and we exchange numbers. I am very excited about him. A couple of weeks later we meet up again at a house party for pre-drinks. He and his friends are snorting lines. I decline. We go to a nightclub and they dance so freely. I try to drink fast to keep up with his high. I decide to go home because I’m feeling a bit sick and I can’t seem to have as much fun as them. He says he’ll take me home. We make out in the cab and go back to his house. This is it. This will by my first (and last) one-night-stand. We are rolling around on the bed having a great time. I am very excited. Then he produces the hugest penis I have ever seen. Huge. Almost the size of my forearm. He tells me not to be scared of it but I am. I try to back out but he laughs it off and assures me it will be ok. He pins me down. I want to leave. I look to see if the door is locked but I can’t tell. I am naked. I don’t even know where I put my phone or my bag. If I fight him, will he just do it anyway? I think so. It hurts a lot. He asks if I am on my period. I say no. Afterwards I pass out. I wake up to the sound of him playing guitar on the deck with his friends. There is quite a lot of blood on the bed. I go to the toilet and vomit. I get dressed and delete my number from his phone. I open the notes app on his phone and type “I’m sorry but I value my pelvic floor”. I get a cab home and make a five-point plan to prevent myself from ever losing control of a situation like that again. That five point plan holds me back from doing many fun and probably harmless things in my twenties that my friends were doing.

    12. I am twenty-five and at a music festival with friends. I am walking to the toilets and a guy asks me if he can have a photo with me. I think it a strange request but I know it is best not to argue with drunk men unless it is necessary, so I awkwardly comply. His friend points the camera and says “say cheese!”. Suddenly he unzips the front of my dress, exposing my bra.
    I call him he a dickhead and kick him. They both laugh and run away. I give up on music festivals after that.

    13. I am thirty and at a conference. I meet a lovely man who is married. He arranges to meet up with me at the conference gala dinner so we don’t sit alone. After the dinner he says he’ll walk me back to my hotel room. I insist I am fine to walk alone, and point out the road is well lit. Truthfully I’d prefer to be escorted back, but I don’t want him to misinterpret my acceptance of his escort as an invitation to stay the night in my hotel room. He walks alongside me all the way home and I’m sort of relieved he is there. He compliments me on my dress and my shoes and my figure. I try to talk about my boyfriend and his wife and kids as much as possible. When he gets to my hotel he tries to take both of my hands in his and lock eyes with me. I awkwardly wriggle my hands away and turn around, calling my goodbyes back to him on my way in the door. I double-check that the door is locked when I go to bed. He adds me on Facebook the next day. I accept. I get it. If you don’t talk about it in never happened.

    14. I am thirty and a male friend has posted an article on his wall called “Being A Girl: A brief personal history of violence”. I admired him for posting it and I was inspired to write one too. I wondered if I could get recall 10 points. I got to 25. I decided to cull some points because aint nobody got time for that.

    I deleted point 6 because I thought once a man reads point 6 he’ll misjudge me and think he understands my why I’m a feminist (as if you have to experience a random and direct violent attack in order to be motivated or qualified to speak about your personal experience with gender inequality and sexual harassment). Then I pasted the point 6 paragraph again because I reminded myself that self-censorship was what makes people think sexual assault is so rare. Then I deleted it again because I was worried someone might screenshot my story and share it, and that my mum would see it and I’d get another hysterical phone call and the ensuing self-blame and mental anguish would ruin her Christmas. Then I pasted it back again because I thought the chances of it reaching her are slim, but there was a good chance it might change someone’s opinion of sexual assault survivors. Not all women who survive sexual assault are sluts, or emotionally fragile, or even scared.
    One thing that all women do every day is risk assessment. It is a tiring “damned if you do/damned if you don’t” exercise. There is no handbook to help us get it right, but there are always people quick to criticise us if we get it wrong.

    • Georgia Luca Patrick January 14, 2016 at 3:57 am #

      Your story is very moving, but please, don’t call women sluts. You’re implying that there IS a type of woman that DOES ask for sexual assault and no man or woman is every asking for it.

  8. Jo-Ann December 14, 2015 at 4:51 am #

    So moving! This is wonderful and I wish more people would read it and KNOW what it really is like growing up a woman while being told to be a “lady”.

  9. poshbirdy December 14, 2015 at 2:27 pm #

    Accurate, honest, sickening. Why can we not break this cycle?

  10. fictitiouserika December 14, 2015 at 3:48 pm #

    wow. thank you.

  11. Katie December 14, 2015 at 5:15 pm #

    This is really well written. So often we close our eyes and don’t realize or try to forget. Thank you.

  12. Christina Marie Labs December 14, 2015 at 6:38 pm #

    Now, I understand my fear. I feel pain. I am not as trapped as others but I still was asulted, When I was 13 I was in Civil Air Patrol. We were beibg trained to do searce and rescue. On a camping trip everyone else went into the woods. A girl came out and started talking to me. Then in sjock she said I was really a virgin. She sat with me the reat of the night to keep the boys away. The next day we were packibg. I was packed and sitting in a car waiting for others. A man was our shaperon, he was the older brothen to my oldest’s best friend. He was 22 and I was 13 he started snapping my bra. I turned around and he stopped. There were other times I was sexually abused by members of the CAP I just can not write about them right now. They make my head hurt remembering them.

  13. cheekygigglesonapumpkintummy December 14, 2015 at 9:29 pm #

    I got chills as I read this. May the almighty protect all women! This does not mean others don’t need protection- women, especially ones who speak up for themselves and for others, need it more.
    Such a sad world.

  14. Tess December 14, 2015 at 11:30 pm #

    this post brought tears to my eyes. it reminded me of all the little indignities and a few HUGE trespasses that only became clear when I thought about them after the fact. I hate that I’ve been conditioned to be complicit in these situations and wish my wit extended to those moments when I was scared.

  15. Lydia H December 15, 2015 at 3:06 am #

    this really hit home.. Most women have gone through at least one thing on the list. And other things not mentioned. I’m happy to see your experience didn’t involve sexual assault. And what about, “you’re a girl. You can’t do science”

    Great article.

  16. Lydia H December 15, 2015 at 3:11 am #

    Reblogged this on Whyteferret's Blog and commented:
    Powerfully written. Sadly, all women have experienced at least one thing on this list. And others, the author didn’t mention sexual assault. I’m happy that wasn’t one of her experiences.

    Some men think cat calls and wolf whistles are ok. “Showing appreciation,). Many women experience them as insulting and possibly frightening. How do we know if this will go further.

  17. blankgoeshere December 15, 2015 at 5:33 am #

    Reblogged this on Blank | Here and commented:
    First time reblogging someone’s post, but after I read this it would be wrong not to share. Any woman can relate to at least some portion of this lifetime account. It’s too close to reality because it is reality.

  18. dbstewart December 15, 2015 at 6:03 am #

    Powerful. Compelling. Sincere. I feel like it should be a film. Emailing it to my daughter and my son.

  19. maaikekhoukhi December 15, 2015 at 8:01 am #

    Wauw, this sounds so familiar. Some men just don’t get it. Thinking they can get away with anything, just because we are woman…. They should learn to behave like humans and not like animals! Threatning children, how sick could you be?

  20. No Victim December 15, 2015 at 5:43 pm #

    So you have internalized every bad and discouraging thing that happened to both you and other girls/women during your childhood, developing full-blown victim mentality by early adulthood. At the same time, you have discounted inspiring influences – e.g. not believing your amazing teacher when she said that girls can do anything.

    Inequality and sexual aggression exist, but victim mentality is just such a non-productive way to live one’s life. Many people have had negative experiences in childhood, many as a result of aggression by a specific other child or adult. In my own childhood, I was hit in the face with basketballs on purpose, bullied a little and treated unfairly by my elementary school teacher, but I am no victim. I’ve also had a lot of positive experiences playing with childhood friends, exploring nature and learning both in and outside the school; and these outweigh the negative by far. If a five-year old boy showed me his penis when I was six, I hope I would be able to put this behind me and focus on my current goals and relationships.

    • Ryan December 31, 2015 at 1:30 am #

      Beavo

      • Ryan December 31, 2015 at 1:31 am #

        I meant bravo

    • Sandra J Brower January 14, 2016 at 3:38 am #

      To: No Victim
      I really hate that you responded this way when it is obvious that you have never had her experience and you are not her. A factual accounting and honest monologue about the things that happened in her life was never up for your approval or disapproval. The fact that she lived through these experiences and can recount them in a forth right way to try to help others is testament to not being a victim or having a victim mentality. You can say all the “if this happened to me I would have done” but until you have been exactly in her shoes in her environment at that exact time means you just don’t know. What you would have done instead could have gotten you hurt or killed depending on the situation. It does not make you a victim if you decide to live another day when things turn violent. It makes you smart and adaptable and cognizant of the dangers that a woman can find herself in. You final comment about putting it behind “you” helps no one, it only mosses over the problem that has always existed. If you never speak up then nothing changes. Education and getting rid of the “blame mentality” will change things.

      To All: The behaviors of these boys and men are wrong and some of the responses from trusted authority figures as well. Let us encourage the dialogue and put the responsibility of these situation squarely on the shoulders of the ones doing the behaviors or the ones accepting the behaviors as boys will be boys not the on ones it is inflicted upon. Until there are real consequences for these acts there is no forward movement and putting it behind you without at least an acknowledging the wrong of these acts puts the blame and responsibility onto the person (I will not call them victims) that was wronged. Women should not have to sacrifice the way they want to enjoy their lives. Even as stated in the Preamble of the Constitution, we all have the right to pursue happiness, not one gender over the rights of another. They are equal rights. Having to forgo our own personal happiness or choose something “less provocative” infringes my rights in that pursuit. To believe that men have the right or privilege to ever molest a woman with their touch or intimidation is against the very rights we are given in the Constitution. The requirement should be that boys and men control their own behavior and be accountable when they don’t. Let’s not whisper or judge. Let’s talk about the problem and try to find the solution. Let’s make it okay to speak up and speak out!! There is more support out there than you know, sometimes it might take conversation for someone that has not been there to understand the problem and maybe to help find a solution. I applaud the monologues this is inspiring and encourage more. Thank you so much for posting!

  21. Melissa December 15, 2015 at 6:30 pm #

    Thank you so much for your post. My sister shared it with me and I have too silently endured similar experiences. I was wondering if I could email you with an idea I had to make this post into a theatre piece with some of my students.

  22. Jen December 15, 2015 at 6:33 pm #

    Reblogged this on I Chase Boys.

  23. chrissyq December 15, 2015 at 6:36 pm #

    Keep writing. Social norms will only change if we normalize something new. One voice is not enough to normalize, but society is made up of individual voices. Keep on it.

  24. Sandy December 15, 2015 at 6:41 pm #

    Powerfully written and, sadly, all too relatable.

  25. diablodiac December 16, 2015 at 12:02 am #

    Sorry for that lifetime threat of yours… People can be horrible. Just don’t be afraid, life got lot of good surprise too!! I’m with you for that feminist ideas and actions. Be yourself, be proud of all the good you did and be careful, every actions have reactions as you seem to know. Everyone make choices! (Seems like you are considered a beautiful women with children!!🙂 men can be jealous of women for many reasons, one of these reason is their spiritual strength and endurance, another one is their beauty, be happy)

  26. IG. December 16, 2015 at 1:59 am #

    Profoundly heartbreaking. Sadly it took fatherhood for me to recognize my own subtle yet very inappropriate behavior towards women. I was never a cat caller or blatantly disrespectful but I clearly didn’t consider a woman’s perspective the way I do now.
    I am sorry it took so long.

  27. Crystal Richardson December 16, 2015 at 2:41 am #

    It’s sad that this is what women have to deal with on a daily basis. Thank you for speaking out because so many are afraid to. .

  28. Peter December 16, 2015 at 3:09 am #

    I’m a man and I found this incredibly moving. I just wanted to tell the author to keep doing what she’s doing and don’t give up.

  29. starry wright (@starrywizdom) December 16, 2015 at 4:09 am #

    Unqualified support for you & yours. Never shut up!

  30. deathsquadmuffin December 16, 2015 at 6:39 am #

    Love this. Thank you

  31. Kerry Q December 16, 2015 at 5:54 pm #

    I read a few comments the other day on a youtube video from people who are anti feminism. They were talking about a woman who doesn’t hate men, loves sex, believes everyone should be equal & calls herself a feminist. They said she doesn’t understand feminism, that feminism is about hating men & wanting women to rule the world. This woman has a great youtube channel & her posts are very educational. She talks about topics such as “victim blaming” & “slut shaming” & does a lot of good in this world to help all people, not just women. But because she identifies as a feminist, people that would have been fans, now hate her, they decided that all her good works mean nothing now, because feminism is “evil”.
    I don’t know why I felt compelled to post this comment here. I juse remembered those comments after reading this post.
    The really sad part was that more than half of those comments were from women. Women who’ve been taught that feminists are man hating “dykes” & if they identify with feminism they might as well go shave their heads, dump any men in their lives & get a girlfriend.
    If anyone responds to this comment, I might not be able to read it. I can’t seem to get the comments to show up. I can post a comment, I just can’t read any of the other comments.
    Thank you for writing this post. It’s very familiar to me & even though it’s sad & terrible that this happens to so many women, it’s kinda nice to hear I’m not alone in dealing with this.

  32. Jessica December 16, 2015 at 8:48 pm #

    Very powerful text! This is a reality for many girls! It is important to speak out, thank you for speaking out. Please do not let other people stop you from raising awareness. It is not about hating men, it is about equality, being heard. Everytime I cross a parking lot at night I keep my keys between my knuckles as a weapon, this is not fair.
    Thank you for empowering women,
    Jessica

  33. claragm2 December 17, 2015 at 2:55 am #

    Thank you for re-living this for us so that we can relate and not be ashamed because we aren’t alone. Thank you for being a voice for women, especially for those of us who haven’t yet found the courage to speak, or even to own, our experiences of sexism, sexual aggression, gender based violence, and the current of fear that is a thread running through our lives so steadily that we internalize and normalize it.

  34. Mike Montaña December 17, 2015 at 10:42 pm #

    Its pretty sucky to feel powerless and without worth.

    I struggle with similar “nuances”.

    If i bring it to the attention of people…then I’m victimizing myself…as opposed to being an actual victim.

    Lol

    Excellent description of the apathy society holds as acceptable social behavior.

    I am a “Black” male… (i use the term Black loosely, because it doesn’t give an accurate account of national origin…just a visual description to aid in immediate segregation or “assessment”.)…and i am far less powerful than you…and worth so much less…in societies askew and myopic perspectives.

    I empathize.
    You aren’t alone in your fears.

    I worry too.
    What will i teach my children as responses for contact with the idiosyncrasies of antiquated mindsets?

    Do i teach them to fight? Or to surrender?
    Will they be gunned down because of a muscular build or choice of clothing?

    Lol…yeah, its hard out here for all of us.

    The way to fix it is to talk about it and have compassion, use philanthropy and love.

    But…lol…good luck with that!

    We aren’t completely doomed as a society …but we’re heading into it, head-on.

  35. vfleming December 17, 2015 at 11:01 pm #

    Hits home for me…I cannot even begin to tell others what I have experienced in my life regarding encounters with males, growing from a girl to a woman. I admire your voice. More please…!

  36. Chloe December 17, 2015 at 11:59 pm #

    How do you even know the gender of the person who sent you a death threat though… I understand where you come from but be careful not to become paranoid, either.

  37. lunamoth December 18, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

    Very powerful…you are a strong woman.

  38. B December 18, 2015 at 3:43 pm #

    I’ve never really given much thought to why I don’t get along very well with men.. I mean, as an adult, I’ve been deemed as confrontational which I’ve never agreed with. It’s usually a man who will push my buttons & it’s usually a man I have no trouble putting in their place. I’ve gotten the occasional, “you need to learn your place” comment. I find it comical that “knowing my place” would suggest that I should accept the things I feel are wrong and not correct them. I suppose I’ll always be “confrontational”.

  39. Jose Jimenez December 18, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

    This is beautifully written and as the father of two daughters, I feel for what women have to put up with. I hope I can teach them how to address this type of harassment. I should point out that the shooter you reference did not “walk into a Planned Parenthood and start shooting” – in fact the shooting took place in the street and then he went into the Planned Parenthood clinic. There is no indication that the shooter was targeting Planned Parenthood, abortion, or women. He was a deranged killer. I mention this because the misrepresentation gets in the way of a very moving and poignant article. Thank you.

  40. ipreferlemonpie December 18, 2015 at 4:54 pm #

    Thank you for writing this, it’s incredibly powerful. At my last job, there was a man who I didn’t know which one day came by gave me a rose and kissed my cheek, he wasn’t mean, some would even say he was nice but while I hadn’t seen this man once in my life, he had seen me and somehow new my name, and that terrified me more than all the catcalling and leers and slurs and touches. Because while on the streets my persona changed completely and I became detached and unfeeling, at my job I was not, because I was meant to feel safe there. I changed stores afterwards, but before I did, the man came four times and I wasn’t able to talk back while on the streets I could. So I understand your fear, I think every woman does.
    I once told a man who grabbed my wrist and told me something similar to what that man said to you, I told him “A woman gave you life, do not forget, and another may take it. So watch how you speak to me.” He backed off afterwards. I do not condone violence, but I had to get him off me.

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