When I was in junior high, the boys snapped our bras and commented on our bodies and made fun of the girl with the largest breasts, relentlessly. (I remember her with perfect clarity.)
We never said a word about any of it to teachers or parents or administration because it was simply “the way boys were.”
It never even crossed my mind to complain, though I hated it, and was terrified, and hated the feeling of their hands on my back, their fingers on my skin. I hated the humiliation and the feeling of wanting to protect myself but never knowing who and when the wrong boy would come around.
We pulled our shoulders in to hide. It didn’t work.
How many teachers saw it? How many didn’t care? Why wasn’t our humiliation enough?
At my job in high school as a busser, when the restaurant manager cornered me at 11pm against a wall and said, “There is one way you won’t get fired,” pressing his dick against my thigh, I shoved him as hard as I could and ran.
I reported him to the owners.
It didn’t happen again but the man was not fired, because men will be men, I guess, and “he had been there a really long time.”
I spoke to the other female employees and he had done it to all of them, too. They said, “You just have to avoid him, but don’t complain again. If you do, they’ll fire you.”
It was the way it was, again.
I learned how much I mattered, fast.
One night in my 20s I was sitting on a barstool when a man walked up to me and slid his hand up my skirt and between my legs but I didn’t say anything because boys will be boys and I believed my humiliation wasn’t enough.
The night I was almost raped in the cellar of a bar I didn’t say anything either because boys are that way and I was drunk, you know, and I shouldn’t have believed the bar owner when he said he had something to show me, some fine wine, something – I should have known better.
A teacher in my daughter’s class was chatting with another teacher about a fifteen-year-old girl who got drunk at a party and was sexually assaulted and the teacher said, “Well you can’t fix stupid.”
My daughter is fifteen.
My daughter heard that.
You better believe that teacher will be handled. Nobody is going to snap my girl’s fucking bra, literally or figuratively, and SHE WILL SEE US CARE.
But it ain’t much in the larger cesspool of this nation right now, as hordes of white men systematically deconstruct women’s healthcare. Guess it makes sense though. I mean, given history, or the other day, when I was talking to a man about Trump’s pussy grabbing comment and the man said “it wasn’t enough to dismiss him entirely.”
Oh. How strange. I thought it would be.
I wonder why we’ve never been enough.
I wonder why the violation of our bodies has never mattered to the world enough to speak out against its objectification and use and destruction.
I wonder why a pussy-grabbing president is alright with us, even 53% of white women voters.
I wonder when we, as women, started believing we weren’t enough either: to fight for, to protect.
And boys are “just that way.”
I wonder why we sit by and let this shit slide, why we all grew up getting our bras snapped and our tits groped and our pussies grabbed and aren’t setting this whole motherfucking place on fire.
We will never be enough for them.
We better become enough for ourselves.
We better raise daughters and sons who give one single fuck about the safety, dignity, power and value of a woman’s life, body, health, mind.
It won’t come to us from them. It will only come through us ONTO them.
But hey, you know, women are like that.
We keep fighting.
I’m tired today though. Words of my daughter sent me down my own little history of pussy-grabbing and I didn’t even tell it all, and I’m 38 years old in a nation that doesn’t think pussy-grabbing is a deal-breaker, and is enacting laws to prove it, and I have daughters who still aren’t enough.
But you know what?
At least she thought to complain, and at least I am willing to burn the motherfucker to the ground, even if my fire barely reaches beyond my fingers.
These are dark days for the likes of us, but keep going. I see you.
See me. See our daughters. See tomorrow, possibly in flames.