I wrote this a few weeks ago and almost didn’t post it because it’s different than the kinds of things I normally write about. But in light of recent events, I feel compelled to share.
I’m in junior high. It’s some sort of dress up day, and I’m wearing a cheerleading uniform borrowed from one of the high school cheerleaders. A fellow student lifts up my skirt, without my permission, in front of everyone, and justifies this because there are briefs underneath.
I’m in junior high. The boys in my class snap my bra and think it’s funny.
I’m in high school. I don’t have the grades my parents required in order to try out for cheerleading. A male teacher offers to change my grade, even though I haven’t earned it, so that I can be a cheerleader.
I’m in college. I am catcalled by strangers.
I am grabbed in clubs by men I don’t know.
I am given nicknames based on my physical attributes by men I don’t know.
I am let out of a traffic ticket because I am wearing a skirt.
I am asked by a man I have never met if I am pregnant, and when I say no, he asks if I would like to be.
I am a self-supporting, independent adult. I am always looking over my shoulder. In parking garages. In stairwells. When I stay in a hotel alone. When I leave work after dark. I’m uncomfortable alone with a strange man in an elevator.
I am married. I am threatened and intimidated by workers I am paying to do a job in my house when my husband isn’t home.
I am a mom. Teaching my girls they have to set boundaries. That there are times it’s OK to scream and hit and yell and run. Trying not to teach them that their appearance defines their self worth.
I am a woman. I am not afraid of the person using the bathroom in the stall next to me. I am afraid of the person who will follow me into mine. Of raising my girls in a culture that treats them as objects instead of people.