This is what it’s like to be a tween girl and realize that in our culture, your body doesn’t belong to you.
I understood this when I was in the 5th grade and noticed adult men leering at me, even when I was with my mom or brother, people that I was supposed to feel safe with, I didn’t. I felt exposed and embarrassed.
I have taught self-defense for seven years now. I feel safer to walk alone at night and in shorts. Yet, even just two weeks ago when it was 90 degrees and I chose to wear shorts, I was sexually harassed by a much older man. He was DISGUSTING. I had headphones in my ears to appear as if I wasn’t listening, but I could hear all the gross things he mentioned wanting to do to me. This was not a safe area. I did not feel safe in telling him chinga te. So I waited for the light to change and crossed the street. My stomach felt sick and my heart was so angry. I so wanted to hit that man, but I knew that if I did, I could be considered the assaulter and be arrested. Or worse, he could have hurt me. He was a large man. So I ignored him.
On the same walk at the same time, another younger man was following me on my scooter vying for my attention trying to start a conversation. I ignored him. He wasn’t saying anything rude. but it was clear by the third block I wasn’t talking to him. So at that moment he said ” I know you can hear me” and scootered off. It was annoying, but I wasn’t in the mood to have a conversation with him about how to leave women alone when they are not interested.
It is exhausting being female in this sexist culture we all contribute to creating. This is why I rarely say hello to men when I am walking. It’s why i always try to make eye contact with other women. It’s why I was uncomfortable and often fearful for most of my life to be alone in public. It’s why I don’t have any close straight male friends. I just don’t trust men. Why would I after decades of being sexually harassed?
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