I didn’t want to post this anywhere else because my experiences are comparatively minor and I don’t want to take up space. The thing is, I would never tell any woman or anyone else of any gender that, if they have had similar experiences to mine, that those don’t count and they shouldn’t take up space. I just generally know better than that, and it’s hard not to know better than that as I’ve scrolled through all the different hashtags as they happened (#metoo #beenrapedneverreported #yesallwomen) as well as the harrowing blog i believe you | it’s not your fault. But I guess I’ve internalized different rules for myself.
To try to combat that, I figured I’d at least write a blog post.
I am very, very lucky. I got one degree and one diploma, and both of those programs (English Lit and Veterinary Technician) are female-dominated. I work for an animal non-profit: animals = female-dominated industries; non-profits = female-dominated industries. My bosses are all women. I did work alone behind a counter in a dry cleaning storefront for a few years but male customers were generally decent to me. My male relatives are good people. My male friends are good people. Both grown male predators I knew who in theory may have acquired access to me did not because they were scared of my dad. I’m lucky.
I was 6, they were 6
It was a stupid kid thing. We were on a soccer team. I was the only girl. The thing is, I really liked soccer. Not that I wanted to do it for real ever, but it was fun just for fun. But I assumed, maybe wrongly, maybe rightly, that the boys didn’t want me there because I was a girl. I wished there was just one other girl on the team, but there wasn’t, so I barely tried and just waited for my parents to say I didn’t have to do it anymore.
I don’t know if they didn’t like that I barely tried, or if they really just didn’t like that I was a girl, but once, after a game, they cornered me and were trying to kiss me. Sometimes, the story gets told as if it was cute. I don’t really know, maybe it was cute. I don’t remember it. I remember playing soccer, losing another game, and I remember right afterwards, when my dad and the coach (a really nice guy, genuinely upset about it even though I barely ever tried) talked about how I wasn’t coming back. I remember that I was just kind of like, “Oh good, I don’t have to come to soccer anymore.”
I don’t know, but I still kind of know, that they did it out of cruelty. They were pretty young, but they still somehow decided the way to punish the girl for being there was to use a PG version of sexual violence.
I was 8, he was 8
He was my friend. Someone offered him money from Barbados to beat me up. He took it.
I ran the entire length of the playground twice, looking for a teacher at first, and eventually just settling on some other friends when I couldn’t find one. He didn’t really hurt me, but when he did catch up to me what he was doing was, I know now, pre-sexual weirdness. It was humiliating (it still is, actually) and really scary because I didn’t know how to make it stop. He was my friend, and he wouldn’t stop.
When we were 12, his best friend and my cousin blurted that he (my friend who “beat me up,” not my cousin) really liked me and had been wanting to ask me out “forever.” I said no out of shock and then felt really bad, and then thought about it some more and was like: holy shit.
How could I ever trust him after that? Yeah, we were young, but we were friends and his weird pre-sexual urges trumped our friendship and his own ability to just be commonly decent. He was barely sorry after it happened. I remember his non-apology, and turning my nose up at it.
Being screamed at by teenagers in cars. (“You’re a slut!” once at 10:00 pm in a mostly empty campus parking lot – I burst out laughing, but it was less funny when they circled back.) Being leered at since age 12. (Men – and women – can look at me all they want, shit, I look too. Leering is what a lion does to an antelope it’s planning to kill and the difference is clear to the leerer and the person getting leered at.) I went clubbing exactly once and got groped a lot and also the music was terrible so there was no saving that evening.
I like emotional intimacy but goddamn if I don’t have trust issues, and they get in the way, and it frustrates me to no end. I have always, ALWAYS avoided male-dominated spaces like the plague. Guys who are mostly harmless but who aren’t paying enough attention to my “please leave me alone” vibes freak me the fuck out, and it’s often a waste of my energy.
I don’t make eye contact. I try to stay away from dark places when I’m alone. I’m not going to go clubbing again but honestly that one is no real loss.
I don’t want to be afraid of men. Can they stop acting scary? Can they stop with the sexualized violence, and all of the violence? Can they stop screaming from cars or across the street or across the mall? Can they make sure someone wants to be touched before they do any touching?
When people talk about raising sons to not become adult male predators, I so rarely think of my own experiences with young boys who were already committing acts of sexual violence. I don’t care how minor those acts were. They sucked. They were scary. They were traumatic. They didn’t need to happen. I did nothing to deserve it. Those boys should have been taught better.
One other thing
I am almost positive that one of the predators I knew would have done something to me at some point if not for his respect for and fear of my father. I repeat this here because my father, who scared a predator off me and my sister just by being large and present and male, didn’t know if he was allowed to feel violated by his. He was. He is. It was a stupid little thing, just like all of my stupid little things, but it was still a violation.
Can we make it all stop now.