I got up this morning. Read some blog posts. Ate some waffles. Felt pretty generally happy. Then.. then I went on Twitter and I saw this tweet from Annie-Marie McLemore. An author whose books I’ve desperately wanted to read for ages now and her tweet made my skin grow cold.
Her words.. that’s a reality for almost every girl out there. You talk to any girl and they have stories like this. Even me.
But, what really made me upset was not only her age, but the audacity of the teacher to tell her “Well what did you do to make him do that?” That made my blood boil. It’s an absolutely disgusting mentality to have. She was a child.. and your giving her that mentality that it’s her fault that a guy got the idea in his head to lay claim on her body. That it was ok. It makes me want to scream.
Victim shaming is the single most awful thing I have ever seen. Because sometimes.. sometimes the victim does start to believe it was their fault. When it isn’t. The answer to that awful question is always nothing. No girl ever asks to be touched like that. The only time that any sexual activity is ok is when there is mutual consent. That’s it. No touchy.. feely.. nothing unless it’s what both parties want. I don’t care if a girl decides that she wants to wear the shortest mini-skirt and just a bra to go out.. it does not give a guy permission to feel her up.
The whole “what did you do?” Mentality just gives men a free pass to do whatever the hell they want and not get punished for it. That shit is just that complete and utter bull shit and everyone needs to cut the crap. As much as the “what did you do” mentality suggests that men are animals… they are not. They have brains. They can have self-control. They are not controlled solely by the thing in their pants. They can keep their hands to themselves and show some respect. It’s all a stupid game. It’s this mentality that so many people wear as armor so that they can fool people into thinking that it wasn’t their fault. That they couldn’t help themselves. That they couldn’t register the girl saying no. That somehow the actions that they took with their own hands wasn’t their fault.
I thought I was done with the personal posts for a while, but as it turns out I’m just getting started.
I didn’t think I’d ever share this on here, but I’m fed up and these stories need to be shared.
I have a few stories actually.
The first wasn’t that long ago. Several months ago their was a boy that I worked with. We used to talk about music and whatever else and I saw him as a friend. He was one of those people who liked to give hugs and at first I didn’t think much of it. However, I started to notice that he’d give these side hugs where his arm would go around my chest and then one night I was bagging up food to go into the display and he was leaving and he thought it was a good idea to hug me from behind placing his hands by where my ovaries are. I immediately felt this rush of panic and anger. It didn’t matter that it was quick. It didn’t matter that we’d talked and were sort of friends. Touching me like that.. so intimately.. I was livid. Before he left I yelled at him, “That was the most uncomfortable hug I’ve ever had… don’t ever ever do that again I said… don’t ever think of doing that to any girl ever.. It’s not ok… I don’t know how you could have thought that that was ok.”
He had the sense to back off.. he apologized profusely, but I had my personal space violated. A hug like that is one I want from my boyfriend and from my boyfriend only. It’s a kind of hug that signifies trust and love and intimacy. None of which I had with that guy at my work.. not even close. It wasn’t just me though. He hugged the other girl we both worked with the same way. It’s not ok.
The other.. much longer.. story is this:
In high school there was a boy I was nice to. He wasn’t liked by very many people and when we would pass in the hallway I thought it was a grand idea to be nice and say hi. I would chat with him and treat him like a person and I didn’t realize that it would make him think I wanted anything other then friendship and I was wrong. During summer of sophomore year I took pre-cal at a university so that I could be ahead and take more advanced classes at school. Apparently, this was the same university where this guys sister was taking classes. One day, he showed up hours before pick up and found me where I was eating lunch. I didn’t think much of it at the time since it was simply a surprise to me and I didn’t have anything against him. I had thought of him as a friend. So when he asked me for my number I gave it to him. Except.. every single day after that he’d show up early hours before pick up trying to catch me on my break. So instead of confronting him like I should have I stayed in class to eat lunch. When he called asking to hang out I told him that my mom wouldn’t like it (I should have just told him I didn’t want to). For the next several weeks of an intensive pre-cal class I would eat inside.. run the fastest route to where my mom would wait for me in her car and I blocked the guys number. To this day I don’t understand how he didn’t get the hint. When we were at school again he’d ask me to give him a hug and I’d brush him off and go in a different direction. In truth.. the whole thing terrified me. I lived my life in school finding ways to always be absent from wherever he was. The thing is I was at work yesterday and I saw that very same guy pass by and it filled me with the same dread as I had in school. The thing is.. a lot of people weren’t nice to him, because everyone could tell that he was mentally off. But being me.. knowing what it felt like not to have any friends it was always important to be nice. I didn’t expect for it to end up getting me a stalker. To this day I get all in my head and even though I know I could defend myself if I absolutely had to.. it’s the wonder of not knowing what someone is capable of. I’m not in the business of underestimating someone because I could physically take them on… or because they look harmless.. in this world of knifes and guns and awful situations I can’t help but feel afraid sometimes. I hate that this guy can make me feel that way. That just one look at his face filled me with dread. It’s not even a violation of the sexual kind, but a violation on my ability to live my life freely.. of not feeling like I have to be afraid. Of wondering if someone’s going to do something.. of having spent a lot of time being scarce so that none of those things had even a remote chance of happening.
Then there are the smaller stories.. guys asking me if I wanted a bite of the food they just bought at my work (that’s happened several times and it’s the weirdest thing ever). A guy who called me babe out of no where also while I was serving him food at work. I hate being called babe or baby anyway (my grandmother used to call me by them). Being called babe within a minute of someone looking at you feels so degrading. The guy that saw me walking to work and decided to walk next to me and complemented my eyes and when I finally was inside the safety of my work he stood there for a few seconds staring at me and said that he just wanted to stare at my eyes for a while. All this.. it makes me feel like I can’t be seen as a person. That all a guy can see is my face, my eyes, and take any smile as an invitation. It isn’t.
Sometimes I get it. Two people have to meet somehow, but there are boundaries. A lot of the time those boundaries are crossed. It’s why it’s so important to me that I’m liked as a person first before anything more. That I’m respected. That if I say no I’m respected. That I can trust the person I choose to love. That I feel safe with them. There have been far too many times where others have made me feel the opposite.
One of the most powerful words I’ve heard someone say went something like this “most of the women I know have stories like these.. most of the men I know are good men.. but for every time a pass is made in a dining room 5 of the women in that same room could raise their hand and say me too.” The men that end up thinking that they can touch a women as much as they want tend to be repeat offenders. Most men are good men, but for the ones that take things many steps too far they hurt more the just one women. They touch multiple lives. Taint multiple lives. That’s a big part of why that tweet made me so upset. That boy who touched Annie.. how many more girls would he grow up to touch? What would he escalate to? Especially when he was taught at such a young age that he wouldn’t be punished for it.
Our bodies are our own. They are not meant for anyone, but ourselves. To be shared only with whom we choose to share it with. Our bodies are not meant to be claimed like that’s all we are good for. What we choose to do with our bodies is our choice and our choice alone. To have that taken away from us is a violation of basic human rights.
Thanks for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts down in the comments… I meant to put together my Most Anticipated post today, but this came about instead. I’m kinda glad though. It’s an important subject to me. I think we all should be able to speak up about these things.
-Till next time!