The above picture/post came up in the facebook feed several days ago. I shared it and commented and a couple of my friends who are girls, commented as well. Since then, the more I've thought about it, the more it's really hit home how common place this really is and that's not okay. These moments start small and can escalate into something much large before we even know it. Most of us are told to ignore it or that 'he's just teasing', or 'that means he likes you'. None of that is acceptable or right. In effort to illuminate some of small to larger things, I'm sharing some of my own experiences.
The earliest memory I have is from when I was 3 or 4 years old. My male cousin liked to shove and lock me in the closet with him to show me his penis. I didn't like that. Not only was I afraid of the dark, but being in there with him made me feel gross.
The second earliest memory is of me playing with the boy next door. We were both Kindergarten age and he liked to come over and trap me under a blanket and hump me. It happened three times before I told my Mom. She said if it happened again, punch him in the nose. It did happen and I did punch him, hard enough he got a bloody nose and went home crying. At first I was in trouble, but I told my Mom I only did what she said and he never came over to play again.
Next up was first grade. I made friends with a boy who liked Ninja Turtles at school. We'd play Ninja Turtles at recess and it was a lot of fun until he'd start pinching my behind. He seemed almost obsessed with doing so and would pinch so hard he'd leave bruises. Eventually, after telling teachers and my Mom, he stopped. However, in High school I was having lunch with some friends and he showed up. Everything was fine at first, we were getting along and then he decided to kick me out of no where. A couple of years ago he found me on facebook and I learned that he was 1. bitter and angry and 2. Gay. Apparently I was his anger outlet over the years?
Back to being a kid. My Mom's step father made me uncomfortable from as early as I can remember. When I was around seven, I asked my Mom why I couldn't stay the night at her mother's house like I did at my Dad's parents house. My Mom explained that her step father had abused her physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually while she was growing up and there was no way in hell she'd ever leave me alone with that man, even with her mother being there. horrified, I remember asking why we went over there at all. She said, she had forgiven her mother for what happened but not him, and she was trying to let her have a relationship with me. And until that man died, neither of my parents ever left me alone in a room with him. There was one time, I went to put something in Grandma J's kitchen and he managed to break off from my Mom and Grandma J but he didn't get one word in before both my Mom and Grandma J were right there. It wasn't until after he died that I got to spend the night at Grandma J's house.
When I was in Grade school my Aunt Laura had some unsavory people living with her. There was someone living in every room of her house, all friends of her of course. There were 3 men in particular that bothered me at her house. Allen, I just never liked and liked even less when he thought my Aunt should spank me before getting the glass from a broken beer bottle out of my foot. Barry used to walk around in his underwear around us kids and really just gave me the creeps in general. That wasn't unfounded, I was right to be afraid and creeped out by him. He told my youngest cousin- at the time- she could go outside and play. Shortly after, he changed his mind and stormed after her. She was going out the driveway gate and he yanked back and somehow got her stuck before dragging her back inside. She was screaming and crying. Her brother told him he had to be careful because she had a blood problem. Barry got pissed, shoved him down on his bed and dug his knee into his groin. I saw all of it and screaming to which Barry began cussing me out and telling me to shut the fuck up. My screaming brought my Mom and Aunt from my Aunt's room. My Mom packed me up and we went home. Somehow my Aunt married Barry and she put up with physical abuse from him for several years before finally kicking him to the curb.
But my Aunt's worst roommate was a man named Mike. He and his girlfriend used to live in my Aunt's attic. At some point when I was still in grade school, they got their baby taken away from them because of shaken baby syndrome and someone it was all his girlfriend's fault. Only I don't really think it was. Mike remained a roommate clear up until us kids were all in middle school. My cousin Shi-chan thought he was so handsome. I didn't get it. He gave me the creeps and made some lewd comments that I didn't fully understand at the time. He liked playing truth or dare or spin the bottle with us and wanted to watch us kiss people on the TV. Later, after he'd been kicked out and arrested for stealing computers, we learned that he'd molested my male cousin.
In middle school my best friend's boyfriend shoved a table into my breasts because I called him an idiot.
In freshman year of high school a guy on my bus grabbed my breasts for fun. I kicked him in the balls and told him if he ever did it again I'd kick him until he squeaked. I got reported to the school office. I did not, however, get into trouble because one of the vice principal's husbands had worked with my Dad and called him up to tell him about the incident.
Sophomore year of high school a guy in my English Lit class told me I should wear shorts and dresses. And another guy, someone I thought was a friend, in the same class asked me for a hug and decided to grab my breasts. This time I didn't have a snappy come back because this guy was in a local gang. I was scared to do anything and had to call my Dad at lunch to ask what to do. While I was on the phone, in tears, my boyfriend at the time, was standing behind me praying. Dad said to report the kid who copped a feel that the school administration would take care of it. So, I did. After school, in the study group I was in, my boyfriend told me I was "a lost soul and he was sent from God to save me". Really? Because another guy grabbed my breasts? I broke up with him then and there. The next day, the guy who grabbed my breasts gave me a formal apology and he never anything but polite to me there after. Apparently his mother ripped him a new one. I think I came out of that lucky. It could have gotten ugly.
When I was 18, I spent the night a friend's house for a video game/ D&D party. Several of us from high school liked to get together when we could to game. One of my friends had a friend who I didn't particularly like but put up with. I fought sleep until that guy left. However, when I woke up the next morning, not only was that guy back, not only had he somehow climbed up to the balcony and let himself in during the middle of the night, but he'd drawn penises all over my face with sharpie before anyone else was awake to stop him much less kick him out.
When I was 19, I went with a friend to one of her friend's houses. We got high and although her friend was married, he wanted to sleep with me. I told her I wanted to go home and stupidly drove back to her house stoned (weed). I also got high with my cousin when he got his first apartment, again weed. He asked me if getting high made me horny. Apparently it made his girlfriend horny. Since he had recently told me 1st cousins could get married in Arkansas, I was unnerved. He's reminded me of that fact repeatedly since then. He also told me he's waiting for me to wake up from being a lesbian and come back to the world of screwing guys, again following it up with 1st cousins can get married in Arkansas.
Also at 19, I was really stupid and got black out drunk at a tiny New Years party with the two guys I played D&D with at the time. At some point I passed out and woke up with the guy I liked pushing his penis in my face. I don't remember much after that because I passed out again. I had to get tested to STD's just to be safe afterward.
Since then I've been cat-called, whistled at, old men have made kissy faces at me while sitting in traffic. Doctors have dismissed me and a neighbor called me a 'fucking cunt" once for putting out the cigarette he tossed over his balcony into the dry grass while we were under a fire watch.
Over time I've tried to forget these things, move on and passed them, and for the most part, I have. I still remember them, they still bother me- of course some more than others- but in my head I've just chalked them up to 'things that just happened'. I don't think that's right. I shouldn't have to "chalk them up". None of them should have happened in the first place. Not to me, not to any of the people around me. No one, not male nor female or non-bianrily gendered persons should ever have to put up with any of this at any age whatsoever!