Sit Down and Listen

Young men and men in general have not been held accountable by the same standards as women. Period. End of story. You can scoff and joke at the #metoo movement but then, you’re just part of the problem. I’m not going to argue with anyone about it. Don’t try and defend the Brock Turners of the world to me. I will not listen any longer about how they are just boys being boys. Don’t tell me that it was unfair that he had to be a register sex offender for a few minutes of ass. Just stop. The news today reporting assaults, rape and abuse and the perpetrators walking away with slap on the hand and a stern, “Don’t do that again” sickens me. Women coming forward, finally trying to find justice for being violated are being shamed, called a liar or an attention seeker. They are questioned on why they didn’t say something back then if that is really what happened… FEAR. Obviously, that’s why.  This cannot continue. So, sit down and listen for a bit. Here’s a few little ditties that I’d like to call, me fucking too.

I was 7 years old when I learned the hard way that boys “can’t help themselves”. I went to a catholic grade school from kindergarten through 4th grade. From 1st grade on, you wore regulated uniforms. Girls in jumper style skirts or plain skirts depending on your grade and boys in slacks all wearing white button down shirts. I’m not sure who started it or how it started but one friday, the boys in the older grades started flipping up girls skirts over their heads yelling “FRIDAY FLIP UP DAY!” then running away laughing and slapping high fives with their nitwit friends. It only happened outside, before school started, recess or walking home after. It didn’t take long for the younger boys to start emulating their older counter parts. That’s how things work, the younger ones look up to their older brother, cousins, friends siblings etc and want to be as cool as them and follow along. Every Friday if you were a girl and not in the safety of the halls, under the watchful eyes of the nuns and teachers, you had to be vigilant about watching your surroundings and holding your skirt down or you ran the risk of every one around you seeing you underwear when some asshole sunk up on you to flip your skirt as high as he could get it before you shrieked and awkwardly slapped it back down.

The first time it happened to me was at recess and I ran to the closest proctor on the playground and told her. She told the boy to stop it and that was it. It happened several more times over the next couple of weeks. It was embarrassing and the adults I told on the playground literally just kindly told the little shits to “cut it out.” It was mortifying as a little girl to have the entire school see your underwear. Lesson 1: Girls’ embarrassment and public humiliation didn’t warrant a boy getting in real trouble. Seriously, what in the fresh hell?

At recess one day some poor dip-shit flipped up my skirt for the last time. Sadly it was one of the nerdier kids that was usually quiet and avoided getting sucked into the melee that most the other boys participated. Unfortunately for him, my fiery little self had had enough of the embarrassment. I spun around and kicked not caring who or what I connected with and screamed “STOP IT!” Sadly for the little jerk, it was his balls that caught the brunt of my hard toed saddle shoe. He doubled over on the blacktop groaning and crying. A proctor came over and physically dragged me aside and asked me why I would do that. Then promptly dragged my ass to the principal’s office. I was forced to apologize to the boy. I complained that it wasn’t fair. That all the boys kept flipping up my skirt and they didn’t have to apologize. I was told, “The boys were not physically hurting you. You attacked that boy. It’s completely different.” Lesson 2: My complete emotional hurt and embarrassment did not warrant a boy getting reprimanded and it was not equal to his physical hurt. Ok. I understood violence was never the answer. I accepted that but, I still didn’t understand how the boys were not getting in trouble for exposing us. Like, my little seven year old brain even understood that it was wrong. I was like, “Hey, I feel like I’m being attacked too so…. What the fuck gives adults?”

All the girls banned together and decided to wear our gym uniform shorts under our skirts. But they looked bulky and occasionally showed when we were sitting. We didn’t care, they hid our underwear. But the nuns were having none of that. It was a breech of school uniform. If they allowed that then, how long before we tried wearing colored socks and random sweatshirts? We were made to take them off and wear our uniform “appropriately”. Lesson 3: My comfort was not as important as being dressed “appropriately”. Utter bullshit but, fine.

The skirt flipping continued but, the next little asshat that flipped up my skirt? I retaliated by walking up behind him when he wasn’t paying attention a few minutes later and yanking his pants down exposing his little tighty-whities to the the playground and yelled “HOW DO YOU LIKE IT?” as I ran away laughing and my friends all cheering for finally having some small bit of vindication. Again, he cried and a proctor dragged me to the principal.  I was lectured on how inappropriate my actions were. How a proper young lady doesn’t behave that way. That it was very upsetting to little Johnny Snotface… Blah. Blah Blah. Lesson 4: Boys feelings were more important than girls. Girls had to behave better than boys. Girls had to just deal with the boys acting like little assholes. I cried. I snot-running-down-my-lip-hiccuping cried. Not because I was afraid of that evil Nun we had as a principal (I mean, I was) but, because I was so frustrated. My seven year old self could not understand how this bitch was lecturing me about that little asshat’s feelings when for over a month I had been begging to have MY feelings of exactly the same thing taken seriously. I remember saying “It’s not fair,” over and over.

From that point on, every Friday, all of us girls started wearing our little backpacks really low on our back. It acted as a barrier so that your skirt had to really be pulled hard to show your butt. It usually bought us just enough time to slap out skirts back down. At recess we played along the wall never turning our backs to the playground for fear of letting our guard down long enough to let those little vultures attack. Eventually, Friday Flip Up Day went away. I don’t remember the boys getting in trouble. Maybe some of them did eventually. Maybe the boys in the older grades got in more trouble. I have no idea but, it’s popularity wound down and finally stopped. Even when we noticed it had stopped, it took us young girls weeks to trust that it wasn’t a ploy for us to drop our guard. I was seven years old and for what I am sure was only 3 or 4 months I literally acted like I was battling guerrilla warfare at school to protect my underpants because, boys will be boys.

I was 12 or 13 when I realized that boys were disgusting pervs that thought they could get away with anything. We had moved just a couple years before this to a rural suburb. I was attending a nice public school that was mostly filled with kids from pretty wealthy families. Most adults would equate this to being better, safer, and above average. Whatever. I was sitting in my English class in the back row writing or working on something when the fucker sitting next to me whispered my name. I looked over to him pointing at his dick which he was methodically pulsing up and down using just his pelvic muscles. “It’s doing push ups. Ha ha ha…” He was so proud of himself. I made a gross grimace and went back to my work. 2 more times he whispered my name and I ignored him. I didn’t want to see what he was doing to up the ante to try and shock me. I know how this works. I wasn’t buying into his stupid dick game. Finally, on his third attempt to get my attention, I said in a loud I-want-everyone-to-hear whisper, “I don’t give a shit about your fucking tiny dick!” The teacher literally yelled my name and told me to go into the hall. I did begrudgingly. She met me out there and asked what was the problem. I, for whatever reason was embarrassed. I had no control over that little assholes actions yet I was the one embarrassed. But, I told her. Explicitly. I could tell she was confused on why the hell some little shit would choose to do that in public in an afternoon english class by the look on her face. She shook her head and said, “Just ignore him. He won’t keep doing it if you don’t react.” To which I told her I HAD been ignoring him and he had continued to bug me until I said what I said… Her answer to the problem? Go get your things and you can sit out here in the hall to finish your work so he can’t bother you. Yes, rather than approach the fucking perv that was actually causing the issue and have the difficult discussion with a young boy about inappropriate sexual behaviors in class, I got to sit on the floor in the hall, like I was being punished to finish my work. He was never even approached or talked to by that teacher or any other one. He continued to do shit like that all through middle school and high school. Good job.

I was 16 when I realized for sure that boys thought they would never have repercussions to their vile moments… and they were right. I had walked into my Social Studies class early. There were maybe 4 people already in the room and at their desks. The teacher was not in the room. There was a big sign on the board telling us to pick up several handouts laid out on the back table. I set my stuff down at my desk and walked to the back to get my papers. As I was leaning over the table collecting them, unbeknownst to me a boy in my class, the tallest largest one in our grade if I remember correctly, walked up behind me and slapped me on my ass and said, “What up Raymer, nice ass.” He slapped me so hard that my hips hit the table edge and I almost hit my head on the back wall had I not caught myself with both hands on the wall. I spun around and hissed, “Don’t you ever fucking touch me.” And stormed out of the room. Looking back, I wish I had punched that fucker but, in the moment, I knew I’d be in trouble for lashing out physically. I had already learned that lesson almost 10 years prior. I left because I started to cry. The hit had HURT. I went in the girls bathroom and stood in the stall trying to see my ass cheek with tears rolling down my face. When I finally went back to class, I was close to 10 minutes late. My teacher didn’t say anything but, a few minutes into silently reading she stopped by my desk and whispered, “Are you OK?” I nodded trying not to cry in class. She asked if I wanted a pass to the rest room trying to give me an out to collect myself. I said no. She looked concerned the entire class anytime I caught her looking at me. I sat slouched over leaning to one side because my butt cheek still hurt. I should have told her. I didn’t. He was a varsity football player and and I think basketball player and honestly, I didn’t think telling anyone would really change the fact that my fucking ass hurt. I knew at most what would happen was he’d be told to apologize, which would not be sincere and is nothing really. After that, I would be targeted as a bitch that will narc on anything. I didn’t need to deal with those repercussions and being made miserable for the rest of the long year. By the time I got home that day, when I looked in the mirror at my butt cheek, there was a dark purple bruise roughly in the shape of a hand. It lasted over a week. I lived for a week with some assholes uninvited hand print on my ass and never said a word because I knew, nothing would happen to him and that I would be punished for it in the long run. Let that fucking sink in.

When I was 17, I learned a harsh reality about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I drove two friends to a house party. I’m was not a fan of house parties in High School. I just always felt out of place and didn’t have much fun but, they wanted to go and I didn’t feel like staying home so I went and I drove. Everyone was wasted; drunk, high and/or doing whippets. I enjoyed none of the above and plus I was driving so, even if I had a penchant for getting stoned or drinking  Mad Dog 20/20 and Boone’s, I wouldn’t have. The party was in a huge fancy house so, I quietly disappeared to snoop and see of the other half lived; an excuse to avoid all the drunk idiots. I didn’t know that while I looked at family photos on the wall in one of 7 bedrooms, that I would be stumbled upon by a very drunk boy that was older and liked to get black out drunk. Apparently he had “always found me cute” which he slurred in what I’m sure he thought was a seductive manner as he leaned one hand against the wall. I was immediately uncomfortable. I went to walk away and he leaned his other arm on the other side of me. I have never felt more trapped and legitimately terrified. He was close to twice my size, so fucking drunk he could barely function and had me trapped. I froze and flattened against the wall so hard that I knocked a few pictures down with my head. Just as he leaned in to my turned head for some horrible attempt at a (gag) kiss, a male friend of mine burst in the door looking for the very dude that had me prisoner. That moment of distraction that made him turn was opening enough that I ducked under his grasp and practically ran out the door. As I rushed passed my would be assailant, he reached out to me and snagged part of my shirt and it tore at the sleeve seam. I kept power walking right on out of the room. He could have torn the sleeve clean off and I wouldn’t have stopped. I vaguely remember hearing, “Raymer….?” from my drunk clueless friend as I picked up speed down the hall and down the stairs. I spent maybe 5 minutes finding my friends and telling them I was leaving. They didn’t want to leave but, I said it’ wasn’t up for discussion. They never asked me what was wrong. They barely looked at me other than to be irritated that I wanted to leave less than an hour into being there. I told them if they needed a ride home just to call my house but, I was leaving. They chose to stay and I left. I drove around for almost 2 hours trying to get my mind right. There were no tears. Just that panicked numb tingle you get when you narrowly escape rear ending someone or missing a step walking down stairs. That rush of fear based adrenaline that makes your skin prickle and your fingertips go numb. I needed that to go away before I went home. I didn’t want my mother asking me how my night was, why I was home so early or seeing my face and asking what was wrong. I was embarrassed and ashamed. If my fiend hadn’t walked in what would have happened? Was I being dramatic? But, if I was just over reacting why did I feel sick still? How had I let myself get in a sketchy situation like that? I don’t drink. I don’t do drugs. I hardly ever even went to parties and yet, here I was driving around random country roads taking deep breaths and replaying the 5 minutes in that room over in my head. I stopped hanging out with those two friends after that. I avoided my would be assailant but once, shortly after that night, I ran into him. He said hello like nothing. I asked if he remembered the last time he saw me at so-and-so’s party and he just said, “No.” It made me feel sick all over again. He didn’t even remember something that had been making me feel ill for days. I avoided him everyday possible for the remainder of my high school time. I never told anyone about those 5 minutes in that room until years later with a new college friend driving around on those same country roads trading snippets of shitty stories that helped make us into the neurotic people we had become. She reassured me I wasn’t over reacting and that she knew first hand what that feels like.

I have more stories. These few just happen to be ones that stuck out to me. Ones that I still remember clearly and always will. But, I was a lucky one. All my cases were minor altercations and one narrow miss. Unlike a friend in high school who I worked with. She sought me out during a lull on a Sunday when we were both working the same shift. She confided in me that she had lost her virginity the night before at a party. To an upperclassman. A much lusted after upperclassman. She said it kind of sucked. That she has a couple drinks and kind of didn’t really want to go that far but, you know it happened and she didn’t think he was that cute anymore… I didn’t understand. He was so hot and the way she was talking… I was confused. Looking back on it now, I’m pretty sure he coerced her or even forced her and she didn’t know how to say it and I was too young and dumb to read between the line and understand.

Or a college friend who during her first year  went to a bar with a group of friends and after only 1 beer and a couple sips of the 2nd doesn’t remember anything else other than waking up feeling terrible in a strange bed nude from the waist down and sore. Apparently a supposed guy friend had “helped” her home but really, he helped her to his home and then took advantage of her… blacked out possibly even roofied. She didn’t report it. She was afraid and ashamed. She had a beer so who would believe that she wasn’t willing. Plus she didn’t remember anything so… She went home and took a scaling hot shower and scrubbed her body until her skin was raw.

I can go on. Other girls I was friends with in high school and college had conversations eluding to boys that pushed them too far. That did things that made them uncomfortable. Took things farther than they wanted. Hurt them. That were harassed and physically smacked, pinched, poked and groped in hallways and stairwells. Like me, none of them ever came right out and said it. Not to us, their friends and definitely not to adults or police.

We were afraid.

We were ashamed.

We were embarrassed.

We didn’t think anyone would care.

We didn’t think anyone would do anything for us.

It needs to stop.

Ladies, I hear you. I see you. I believe you. Because #metoo.

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