When I was in high school or middle school I was walking on a path across a park with my friend, Carol. It was a beautiful day and we were talking about whatever teenaged girls talk about. A group of prepubescent boys approached us and as they passed us one reached out his hand and grabbed my crotch. He and his friends laughed. I remember feeling ashamed, embarrassed and angry at the same time. Carol and I didn’t speak of it then nor any time after that.
I rarely took our dog for walks, but one night when I was about 16 decided to take Franz for a walk around the block after dark. It was a chilly night and I wore my red winter coat. I was approaching my house and as I did a person in a green snorkel parka (the kind with an orange lining) passed me near a tree that grew close to the sidewalk. I may have nodded hello to the person, I may have not but just after the person passed me he grabbed me, said “Hi there, how are you?” while feeling my breasts through my coat. I was stunned, embarrassed, and again ashamed.
It was Christmas eve. I wore a red turtleneck sweater and long skirt. I was 16. We were at my mother’s youngest brother’s house. At some point I went upstairs to use the bathroom and my mother’s oldest sister’s husband walked out of the bedroom where the coats were. I might have said “hi”. He grabbed my arm and pulled me into the doorway and leaned against me. I pulled away and ran downstairs. I felt it was my fault because my sweater was too tight and I went upstairs by myself.
I was about 17. Our neighbor was a guitarist in a local band that played country and western music. My brother and I wanted to learn how to play the guitar so we took lessons from the neighbor. The lessons were usually done in the basement — and my brother and I were usually at the lessons together. One time, however, the lesson took place in his bedroom because the basement was being used for something else. Now he was married to a really sweet woman. I babysat their kids, so it didn’t seem that weird and while my brother didn’t attend this lesson, there was another student in the room with us, so I was ready to learn more on the guitar. At some point the other student left the room to wait in the living room. The neighbor asked if I liked the student — a guy about my age. I said I didn’t know him enough to know if I liked him and besides, I was not that into boys or dating. The neighbor then walked over to me and kissed me on the lips. I was stunned. He must have known I was upset because he left the room. I picked up my guitar and walked out of the bedroom. The other student looked up but I just kept going and walked out the front door. I never went back for guitar lessons. I never talked to that neighbor again.
I told no one about these incidents at the time. When I did, later, mention them to people who were supposed to be outraged all I got were pats on the back and phrases like “he was drunk”, “he makes passes at everyone”,”don’t tell your dad”. The walking dog incident got me scolded for going outside by myself after dark. I learned that these are the things guys do. No big deal.
Each of these incidents still make me angry. The fact that both adults in these incidents, the neighbor and uncle, died tragic deaths does not lessen my anger.
It’s NOT okay.
7 thoughts on “Not okay x 4”
Definitely not. I remember a doctor touching me inappropriately when I was a teenager and I didn’t tell anyone about it because sexual touching wasn’t talked about back then (at least, not in my world). I’m glad things have changed, although of course, there’s still lots of room for improvement.
That should not have happened to you, Helen. Yes, I am also glad things have changed. I know my son is hyper-aware of this. My daughter has had some experience with verbal sexual harassment, but I don’t think physical.
Wow. Not OK. And it seems like a lot of incidences, which is even worse. What the hell? Aaaaargh!
You know, I’d forgotten about the first incident until women began talking about their own experiences.
Ugh ugh ugh. I think I’m going to start crying again.
#yesallwomen. And we always first wonder if somehow we caused it. Propaganda on a global scale. I still haven’t openly talked about being sexually attacked by two boys – neighbours I had known since I was five years old – and who only backed off because I fought furiously. I was so embarrassed I never told anyone, until I referred to it in my x365 blog.
I keep hoping that we are moving away from these types of bad behaviors as a society, but in my opinion it isn’t happening quickly enough. The double standard for males v females is not okay. It never was, but it was accepted for so long it has virtually become a tradition. I am glad there are many males in the world that do NOT subscribe to these bad behaviors. As you posted above, the adults or people that should have cared and put a stop to bad behaviors, just blew it off! That is outrageous! I support you and am trying to make a statement in a series of books named Excruciating Patience, Excruciating Patience: Paradox of Pain… I made contributions to these publications. I hope people will read them and provide feedback. They are located on Amazon and Createspace.
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