On the soapbox and a question for you

Okay, I know everyone is getting tired of hearing the ongoing saga with Hannah, and when I get up on my soapbox about the whole issue I am sure eyes are rolling and heads are shaking and people want to say “Just get over it already!”  but I have to share this.  I really do.

There is a boy at Hannah’s school who has been grabbing her ass.  More than once.  A tit-starer (and don’t EVEN tell me “that’s just what teenaged boys do,” because knowing that to be true in no way makes it okay.  Just sayin.’), an ass-grabber, a dirty-joke teller.  So Hannah came home from school on Monday quite upset because despite her having told him to stop, he did it again, in the lunchroom, and people laughed at her for getting mad at him.  She talked to me about it and told me that she was going to talk to Mr. K about it the next day, and she and another girl who is also a target for this boy went in to talk to him together.  The first thing HE said was, “I will address it, and if it happens again he will be escorted off of the property by his probation officer.”  The boy was waiting outside Mr. K’s office and promptly began saying things like, “Hey, baby, why you want to get me in trouble?  I’s only tryin’ to be nice to you (and okay, I don’t know if he really sounded like that but it was something to the effect of “what the fuck did you tell on me for?”).”  So understandably she was both pleased at Mr. K’s response and scared/upset by the boy’s behaviour all the way around.

But this mama?  This mama is furious.  Oh, about the situation, of course, but also about the fact that this boy put his hands on my daughter without permission and had the balls to get angry with her for attempting to stop it.  I am furious that people-other girls and boys-laughed at Hannah’s reaction. And I know that there are other people, even women, who feel the same way; “Oh, it’s just boys being boys,” or “come on, it was just a grab of the ass, it happens to all of us,” and that’s what I am mad about.  Yes, it happens; we get touched and grabbed and stared at, ogled and whistled at and have obscene hand and tongue gestures made at us, so that somehow makes it okay that it is happening to our daughters?  It makes me feel so angry that we have all been put down and made to feel like pieces of meat, that our only value is that which is between our legs, that I want to scream.

Yes; he grabbed her.  In the big picture, it isn’t the worst thing to have happen; she has already been through that.  I found myself, for an instant, thinking, “Of course she is upset about it, after everything that has happened…” kind of mentally being condescending to her, but I quickly changed my thought process because it shouldn’t EVER be okay to be touched without asking for it.  EVER.  Regardless of what has happened.  Her body, my body, your body, they are ours.  That’s it.  We should get to say whether or not we want someone not just touching our butts but even hugging us or putting their arm around our shoulder.  And every time we allow it to happen and excuse it, or simply ignore the fact that it makes us feel uncomfortable, or simply try to avoid the person, well, aren’t we implying that it is, in fact, okay?

I told my daughter that while she should try to avoid this boy, she also did the right thing by talking to Mr. K; and that if it happens again, she needs to tell, again.  I told her that she never has to put up with anyone touching her, no matter how innocent a gesture it might seem.  I told her to trust her gut, and if ANYTHING makes her feel uncomfortable, she needs to tell someone.  Because it just.isn’t.okay.

And for me?  There is a guy I know who is Mr. Touchy-Feely; I have excused his behavior, or rather tried to tell myself that it isn’t that important, not a big enough deal to make a fuss over.  He is getting old, he is basically harmless, all of those fucking lies we say because we don’t want to make waves.  So in honor of my daughter, and every other woman who makes excuses and tamps down feelings of discomfort (including myself), the next time he comes over to give me a hug I am going to say, “Stop.  That makes me uncomfortable.”  And I vow to not care if he gets mad or embarrassed, because it is my body, not his.

What will you do?


32 thoughts on “On the soapbox and a question for you

  1. Amen!

    One night after a little drinking at a bar, some friends and I went to a diner and a random, super drunk guy sat down next to me in our booth. I had been drinking so I was feeling friendly and was like, yeah, join us! My friend said something to me, and I leaned toward her, and away from him, to hear. He grabbed my ass when I leaned away, and I immediately turned around and started yelling at him – loud enough for the entire restaurant to hear. I said, “Get away from me. You do NOT touch me! Ever! GET OUT!!!” And THAT is how I handle unwanted touching.

    And by the way, yours and Hannah’s life is not just “the ongoing saga with Hannah” and I hope no one is tired of hearing about it… It’s your life and your blog and you should write whatever the hell you want. And I do want to hear about it because I want to know, and I CARE to know, how you guys are doing.
    .-= Julie´s last blog ..Another Meme – 7 Things =-.

  2. I think you already said it. We’re constantly told by that organism known as society that we, the females, should get over it. Can we talk about the fact that Chris Brown didn’t get jail time, while Vicks got jail time for beating up at DOG?!? Not that I don’t think he should’ve, but I think it says a lot about our society that we value dogs over women. I’m glad you’re standing up. And I’m so glad that Hannah stood up. And while some girls may have laughed, maybe they’re re-thinking that now. It starts with each one of us; who knows where it can go?
    I love you.
    .-= April´s last blog ..Seeking safety in a dangerous world =-.

  3. Anyone who says, “That’s just what teen-aged boys do,” is the reason teen-aged boys display such disgusting misogynistic and demeaning behavior. The fact that he’s continuing to do this in spite of Hannah telling him to stop is sexual harassment. If the school does not intervene to put a stop to it, they should face a lawsuit.

    It infuriates me that Hannah is the one to have to modify her behavior (avoiding the boy) when it is his behavior that is unacceptable. Any woman who is not outraged by this…damn, it makes me so mad I can’t even form a coherent sentence. And the fact that young women Hannah’s age are not supportive of her? What the hell has happened to Third Wave feminism?
    .-= Dingo´s last blog ..Pound Of Flesh =-.

  4. I think you are 100% absolutely correct. The more women discourage this kind of behavior, the less “acceptable” it will become. I really hope your daughter and her friend continue to speak out if someone is touching them without their consent.

  5. You keep talking about Hannah til your blue in the face. We are NOT tired of hearing it. And as far as the grabbing? You tell her that she is a RIGHT, he is WRONG. End of story. And also tell her that we are proud of her for doing the right thing.

    Hallie 🙂

  6. It’s completely politically incorrect, but my first response as the mother of a girl child is to say “Knock his fucking teeth in”. Needless to say, I’m not a proponent of violence, and I’ve never hit anyone in my adult life. It just gets me so mad that boys/men still behave that way, and it’s permitted to whatever degree. A girl should be able to put a stop to it once, and once and for all.

    There have been times of late when men have hooted or whistled through their teeth and I’m just not in the mood. I stop in my tracks and raise an eyebrow and give them my best don’t mess with mommy look of disdain and they look at the ground in sheepish embarrassment. Dumb guys

    The problem is that sometimes is just stupid and disrespectful, and sometimes it’s really threatening and potentially dangerous.
    It’s crazy that this is still an issue women have to deal with.
    .-= michelle´s last blog ..Fragments & Freewrites =-.

    • @michelle, I had thought that, too, about telling her to just hit him as hard as she could. However, in the school she is in, there is zero tolerance for any kind of violence, and it would have meant her being escorted out by the police. There is ALSO a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment, and this boy is already on probation for whatever, so at least if it happens again, HE will be escorted out. but iagree; we should never have to put up with this kind of crap.

  7. Kudos for your advice to her. I’d be furious if some asshole grabbed one of my girls and made her feel uncomfortable. I don’t remember guys being so openly piggish back in my high school days; women have been portrayed to be objects through so many outlets – movies, video games, some hip hop and rap music and videos – just to name a few. And the sick part is that so many girls are letting themselves become objects, so these guys start feeling powerful. I can imagine it leaves girls like Hannah who aren’t having any of it feeling in a tough spot. It’s a shame that women and girls couldn’t band together and have none of it together. That would be a force not to be reckoned with – but it’ll never happen. It’s going to be crusaders (for lack of a better word) like your daughter to stand up to that shit and be a role model for other girls who KNOW that they are uncomfortable and that it is NOT okay.
    .-= Huckdoll´s last blog ..friday fragments: the google search edition =-.

  8. Boys will be boys? Fuck that. My boy will NEVER be like that. Regardless of what Hannah has been through, that boy’s behaviour is unacceptable! In fact, it doesn’t matter how old she is, that is sexual harrassment. It makes me sick that other kids laughed at it.

    When I was in 8th grade, a boy in my homeroom who my friends were friends with used to make me uncomfortable. One day he grabbed my textbook and rubbed it on his crotch and said jokingly “look, Rachael, I’m fucking your book.” I was so upset. No one else thought it was a big deal but when I wrote a note to the teacher asking him to never assign me a seat next to this boy again it went to the school counselor and was taken care of. It didn’t happen again, but I remember how hard it was, I was embarrassed and it just felt BAD.

    And he didn’t even TOUCH me. I don’t think Hannah’s reaction to it is an over-reaction at all and I hope they stick to their word and that boy has to leave.
    .-= Rachael´s last blog ..Thursday Thirteen: Praying for Change =-.

    • @Yaya, I think they will; they are VERY strict, very, and if it happens again I believe the principal when he sayd the boy’s probation officer will be called and he’ll be punished.

  9. I have more than a few memories of assholes touching my ass; times in which I laughed uncomfortably and maybe said something passive-aggressive, but I didn’t have the confidence I do today to be assertive. I was just telling Mark that I think we should have Kendall take a self-defense course, even though she is assertive. She’s just so innocent; I want to make sure she has all the tools she might (unfortunately) need one day. I love your challenge.

    I would love to grab that asshole by the balls, but something tells me aggression would turn him on. I hate pricks like that. Would it be okay if you teach her how to hurt him (physically) next time? I would love to read a post about how she kicked his ass. I know, I know…not good, but I can fantasize….
    .-= Mrs4444´s last blog ..Weekly Winners/Sundays in My City =-.

    • @Mrs4444, I have thought that, too, about a self-defense class. If nothing else, I think it would be great in terms of self-esteem, too, to know that if something happens, you CAN defend yourself.

  10. Here’s another thought–That guy you say that to might get so defensive that he deflects the blame on to you being “hyper-sensitive.” Might he take it better if you said something privately (even ahead of time, if possible), like, “Hey, I feel I need to tell you something that I should have said a long time ago. I think I’ve sent mixed messages about how I feel about you grabbing my ass in the past. I’ve always laughed, because I’m uncomfortable, but I should have told you a long time ago that I really don’t like it when you do that; it makes me uncomfortable, and I don’t want you to do it ever again, okay?” What do you think?
    .-= Mrs4444´s last blog ..Weekly Winners/Sundays in My City =-.

  11. Yeah the schools definitely are NOT able to deal with this issue. I’m not sure I blame the guys especially if they’re watching any kind of shows on VH1 or MTV. They get the idea that women are okay with this. You definitely have to take charge of the situation. I would make sure his parents knew about it and if they don’t do anything I’ll move right on up the totem pole.

    • @Shiona, Well, this isn’t a “normal” school, it is the alternative high school, so they ARE equipped to deal with it. And since most of the kids there are in trouble with the law, I doubt going to their parents would do any good. And I disagree; I DO blame them, and anyone (male or female) who touches someone if they don’t want to be touched. They know right from wrong.

      • @kori,

        This comment came out completely wrong. I was trying to excuse the behavior and say what you already said about thinking women are okay with it. As for the what will I do I thought you were talking about the situation which you weren’t. So since my comment has nothing to do with your post you can delete it since I can’t. Sorry again.

      • @Shiona, I don’t think I need to delete it; I think it is really good that we are talking about it, discussing it, getting this kind of stuff out in the open. and of course it had something to do with my post! jsut because I personally don’t think that we can blame it on anyone but the people doing it doesn’t mean there isn’t some component of that out there.

        By that I mean exposure to different media sources that also portray men women as objects also furthers the problems. Men see TV ads with half-naked women on them, they read about the whole chris Brown/Rhianna situation where he basically got off with a very light slap on the wrist, and sure those things have an effect. However, just because they see it on tv doesn’t mean they should think it is okay.

    • @Shiona, I have to reply to this real quick also. I blame the guys and their parents. MTV, VH1, video games, and hte internet, do not ever replace parenting or common sense. If a kid does something wrong, and someone blames it on a TV show, then the parent (the real live person living with them, influencing them everyday) is getting off without so much as a slap on the wrist.
      .-= Caitlin´s last blog ..A great movie, and a bad one. =-.

      • @Caitlin, Unfortunately, this school where Hannah goes is an Alternative school, and I would be willing to bet that better than half of the kids there have little or no parental involvement, or what involvement there is, isn’t the kind that is concerned with raising their kids to be better than they are.

        I am NOT saying that every time something bad happens it is the parents’ fault; sometimes trouble comes from the very best of families, families where I have no doubt that the parents are good, kind, loving parents. I just do think that attitudes toward women and sex can be and are greatly influenced by what kind of an example is set by the parents, and what kind of guidance they are getting (or not) at home.

  12. Why anyone would laugh at this, or make excuses for the boy is beyond me.

    Women are not play toys. If a guy touches me at all without asking, I am usually ready to backhand him. That is extremely disrespectful. If you are in a relationship with me, or if you’re a good friend, that’s different, but if you’re a stranger or someone I don’t know very well, stay the fuck out of my bubble.

    This makes me very angry too, obviously. I’m a girl (a short small one at that) and guys do this shit to me a lot. I also have a lot of tattoos and guys (even girls sometimes) will often grab my arm and start twisting it around and rolling up my sleeve to see my tattoo WITHOUT EVEN SAYING A WORD. Since when does stuff like this become okay? I would never, ever, dare to touch someone I don’t know, but it seems like everyone else thinks we’re freaking play-doh or something.

    Just thinking about it, I’m getting frustrated.
    .-= Caitlin´s last blog ..A great movie, and a bad one. =-.

    • @Caitlin, I, too, get frustrated by things like that. I remember when I was pregnant and people would-without saying a word-come touch and rub on my belly. It would make me SO mad, and even though in those cases I knew it was well-intentioned, it was still a circumstance when people were touching me without my permission.

  13. Good for Hannah for standing up for herself and telling you and telling Mr. K. This is not “just what boys do.” It’s what boys who were never taught to respect women do. I went to a public high school and I worked in a restaurant for 4 years, and nobody ever grabbed me or touched me in a manner that I felt was inappropriate. (Granted, this was years ago, but still). So there ARE boys out there who know better and are able to restrain themselves, and, theoretically, these boys should now be men who are raising respectable boys…but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    Regarding the whole VH1/MTV/video game thing-I agree that boys are learning things from these videos that aren’t good, but so are the girls. They see all these women being half-naked, bumping and grinding and generally doing whatever it takes to please “their” men, and I’m sure that sort of thing contributes to the attitudes that Hannah ran into at school, where the other kids were laughing at her. “It’s no big deal, that’s what women do, why are you so uptight about it?” Hopefully Hannah’s actions will encourage other girls not to go along with the crowd though and to stand up for themselves as well. I’m sure there are probably lots of girls who feel like Hannah but don’t feel like it’s OK to say, “Hey, I don’t like what you’re doing. Stop.” It’s a lot easier to sit and laugh with the crowd than to stand up and risk being the one laughed at, so, I know I already said it once, but good for Hannah! I’m so proud of her!
    .-= Dreamybee´s last blog ..What recession? =-.

    • @Dreamybee, I believe you are right in that girls, too, have gotten the message that this is what women do to get attention. My feelings are that we as a nation have turned sex into simple satisfaction of biological urges rather than something special, too, and also if we as women don’t respect our bodies and our sexuality then we are allowing men to do the same thing. In my opinion, lol. 🙂

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