When I was 11 it wasn’t referred to as rape culture, it was called being a distraction.
I hit puberty at 11, it had actually begun a few years before that, but age 11 was when I started my period for the first time. I developed breasts, my hips got wider and my butt got bigger. It seemed like it was overnight, but really it was over the summer. I was headed into middle school for the first time and I had a body, I hadn’t known before.
I was excited to be moving up in school, I was a big nerd in school. I loved it, I loved learning new things, I was prideful about being teachers pet, I just loved everything about learning and education. I even wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.
When I first started in school things were fine, I went to my classes, did my work and moved on to the next one. It wasn’t till the end of the day rolled around and I went to what I thought was going to be my favorite class, Language Arts/Writing. First thing after role call the teacher Mrs. White told me that I needed to go to the office because my outfit was not appropriate to be wearing at school. I was confused, but I obliged and went to the office. The secretary took me to a room that was full of clothing. I believe it was a lost and found of sorts, that had collected masses of clothing over the years. She helped me pick out a shirt that would fit, and was high on my neck and sent me back to class.
I was embarrassed, I cried all the way back, I even went to the bathroom before returning to class, because I needed to stop crying, and wash my face before I went back. I didn’t want to be teased about being a cry baby. I felt like I did something wrong and when I feel like that, there is no changing my mind. I went back to class and ignored everyone and did my work. I was ready for the day to be over.
Through out 6th grade year this happened, I had to do the fingertip test with shorts and I wasn’t allowed to even wear a top with any sort of cut besides a crew neck or t-shirt neckline without being sent to the office. After a while my crying started the moment I left class and almost every damn day I would cry in front of the office secretary.
I was 11 for god sakes, 11. I kept being told that I was distracting the boys or that what I wore was not appropriate for an 11 year old. I just didn’t understand because other girls could wear spaghetti straps with scoop neck or v cut, they would wear shorts that were just below their butt cheeks, but if I wore a shirt that had a bit of a u shaped neck with shorts that were 2 inches above my knee, I was sent off to the office.
The harassment continued when I went to 7th grade, but it was by a 8th grader. He would put his hands on me when I told him to leave me alone, he would make sexual gestures at me, that left me feeling disgusted and dirty. When I talked to the school councilor about it, he decided it would be a brilliant idea to get both sides of the story, in the same room, at the same time. By the time I finally spoke up about it I was petrified of this guy, one time at lunch he chased me around the building, and when I fell he held me down, sat on top of me and tried to kiss me.
When they brought him in the room they asked did you do these things he said, “No, I was just some younger kid that had a crush on him, and was mad because he didn’t like me back.” The most messed up part is they believed him! They couldn’t believe that this bright young man would sexually harass this fat, 12 year old little girl. He got away with it.
We can’t let this keep happening to our little girls. We have to teach our boys right from wrong. I’m so tired of boys will be boys. I’m tired girls and women being taught from a young age that our body is nothing but a sexual object. I’m tired of rules put in place to oppress girls and women all while “protecting” the young boys and grown men from us nasty women and our bodies of “sin.”
It needs to end now, and it will start with me and with my son. I will teach him right from wrong, he will know how to treat women, he will respect them and defend them, and he won’t let others get away with it like they did when I was 12.
Rape Culture Stops With Me!