At what point do women simply burn it all to the ground?

by Janelle Hanchett

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.

To fight.

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.

A majority.

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.



102 Comments | Posted in feminist AF | May 11, 2017
  • Sherry

    The bra snapping!!! My God, I’d forgotten how much I hated that. How fucking humiliating and painful and shitty that was.

    And no, we never thought to complain. I mean, we’re the ones who chose to have breasts and all.


  • Shannon

    I recently left an abusive marriage, and moved in a house with roommates, male that a friend vouched for. I was grabbed and my nipples pinched in three days of getting to what I thought was a safe place. This particular column speaks to me. I had to explain to my male friends why this was so upsetting. Not until I asked if they were ok with their daughters being handled like this did they have any empathy.
    Just because I have boobs a man likes does not mean he gets to touch them. My body, like every other woman’s body belongs to her. We should not have to plead our case in order to be heard. I shouldn’t have to scrub myself raw in the shower trying to erase the feel of a sexual predator and then have to justify my pain, disgust and revulsion. The man that did this has a daughter. I wonder how he would feel if it happened to her. I hope she never knows.

    • Josie

      “The man that did this has a daughter. I wonder how he would feel if it happened to her.”

      Could you ask him? I wonder if he would be ok with it… I suspect not.

      • Cheryl

        Yeah I suspect he’d not be ok with it considering how quick dads are to joke about “I’ll be polishing my shotgun when he comes to pick her up for a date. Hyuk hyuk.” Smh.

        There are good men out there it’s these few that think it’s ok to use women as objects that end up as part of our fear, judgment, and humiliation. I’m proud to stand up with my kids and show them how to respect themselves and others. And fight.

      • Katie

        what about the fathers WHO DO IT TO THEIR OWN DAUGHTERS.

        • Cyndia

          Mine did.

  • Rose

    “Always keep fighting”. It’s on all of us everyday t

  • Lee

    Your fire definitely reaches beyond your fingertips…and as long as it reaches the next woman’s flame we’ll light it all up.

    • Kitten

      I don’t know you, but right now you’re my favorite.

      • Bobby

        Mine, too.

  • Denise

    My favorite is “It’s because he likes you.” Oh, ok, I guess that’s what we are taught boys, who grow into men, do when they “like” us. Touch us in ways we don’t what, disregard our feelings, and have rights and control over us. Got it. But listen you need to stop making a “big deal” out of this stuff because it means you don’t have a sense of humor and jeez, you’re just a bitch.

    • Anouk Hebert

      OH YES! THIS! “Because he likes you!” Why, now, as an adult can I not see when I do things (like talking too much) that others are uncomfortable with???
      Or “sticks and stones will break your bones but words will never hurt”. Fuck. My aunts words, who I was living with, regarding bullying towards me. I do not remember the exact comments of my peers, but I sure as HELL remember her reaction… (one of many cases where a girl did nothing to prevent it..)

    • Maryrose

      I was all ‘hell no!’ On that. My daughter told me some boy was being mean to her & I told her it was because he was a little asshole & unless she was a paid therapist it was not her job to figure out why. I told her to never start a fight- but encouraged her to finish one.

      So when the day came that a boy shoved her & she threw a water bottle at her head, when the teacher called, I told her that I would be congratulating her for her good aim.

      • Heather

        The one and only time I’ve been called in for a meeting with the school’s administration was when my daughter punched a classmate. He wanted a toy they were playing with, and she told him that he could have it when she was finished. He didn’t like that answer, and bit her.

        When the teacher reminded them both of how we treat our “friends”, my daughter’s response was, “A lady doesn’t start fights; but she can finish them.” She was 4.

        I hope to be just like her when I grow up. #fierce

    • CrushLily

      This is why I always liked the Canadian production of Anne of Green Gables. Gilbert calls her names and she cracks him over the head with a slate for it. She stood up for herself, Gilbert learnt a few lessons and ended up falling in love with her for her intelligence. I don’t have daughters, but I think there are valuable messages there for kids.

    • The Prozac Queen

      And don’t forget “gay”! I’ve gotten that as an “explanation” for why I didn’t like being touched like that by guys. Apparently not being interested in being grabbed by guys meant that I wasn’t interested in guys, *period*…not even close to being true.

  • Elmary

    Ok… first of all I love that comment try not to be a dick when you go to click on comments. So many times I’ve wanted to write a comment but held back cause my writing sucks and partly cause I think ten times faster then I can type. :/. Some how you are always in my brain. I was just thinking this yesterday that we as women are and have to raise our kids to put women on the pedestol they belong on. And no one will teach them this except us… and in fact will do everything to make them think the opposite. Ok. Just my quick little spill. Love your writings
    Ps I’m from Northern California as well and when I say Northern I mean way Northern Humbodlt baby 😉

    • Brenda

      Women don’t need pedestals. They need equality. I just want to be treated with empathy, not worshiped or catered to. Chivalry is can be incredibly demeaning.

  • Renee'

    I know how you feel. I am tired, just DAMN tired of this whole mess we live in right now. I am old; 62 years old and would love to go back to the 60’s and 70’s when times were simpler (I can’t believe I am saying that!). But, I digress; tell your daughters what I told my daughters when they were growing up. If a boy does something that you don’t want him to or makes unwanted advances, kick him in the balls! They are not going to expect it. If they are ballsy enough to try in the first place, they aren’t going to see it coming and you can let them have it good. I am very small and very short. I got picked on A LOT! I had to learn fast how to defend myself. This defense worked well for me several times. We don’t have to put up with their shit!

    • Renee’

      Renee’ – great name by the way, I started reading your comment thought “did I comment on Janelle’s post already because it sure sounds like I did?” I too, am tired, short, 62, grew
      up during the same time, had daughters and gave them the exact same advice! It was the same advice I was given when growing up because of my lack of statue only in more polite words from my mom. Worked well then, for my daughters and I will pass that nugget on to my granddaughter! You are a smart woman!

    • Janice Farringer

      I am 68. None of this stuff is novel but all of it should have been stopped years ago.
      In my day complaining got you fired. Even keeping a straight face in the room where a sexist joke was being told at a podium was a sign that you were a b….. Nothing has changed in my lifetime.

  • Rosy

    These are dark days, but in the darkness I see you as well. We will make it out of this, we will see the other side of this presidency, and senate and congress. And on that other side will be a vicious backlash. I have no doubt that women will rise to power in that wave and enact the institutional and social protections that those who have been complacent up to now have assumed were already there.

    • Jeffry

      I hope and trust that this will happen.

  • Carrie

    I’ll light up the night with you. You and all other women and girls who have had enough.

  • Katherine

    I am so thrilled women are REALLY talking about all of this. Drump has done something good…this dark ooze needs to come up and out…just enough for us all to see the horror and fight, stronger than ever, for ourselves, our daughters, our sons…for the whole planet. The young women in my office were so complacent about the election…and they’re now walking up to how bad things can be.

    It is the worst kind of bad to have to go through this with the Republicans showing their true colors, the battering of the environment, our health care jeopardized, the internet no longer free, corporations getting fatter, people getting poorer, but, I think so many of us are waking up and ready to torch the place.

    Yea, it’s time to wake up and burn

  • Mary

    THIS line Janelle: “It won’t come to us from them. It will only come through us ONTO them.”
    THIS is why, as a high school teacher, I am vehemently opposed to dress codes. THIS is why I take every opportunity to challenge my young women students to have each other’s backs, rather than stab them. THIS is why my own daughter, when told she was “pretty” as a child would snap back, “I am smart, too”. THIS is why young men in my classes are not given a break for that crap “boyish” behavior. THIS is why my own son, about to become a father, will NEVER take for granted the position given him by virtue of his gender and race, nor will he pass that bullshit on.
    IT MUST BE US who change this.
    We know how to be patient, and we know how a slow burn works. Keep on fanning this flame!

    • Rachel

      I sure as hell hope my daughter has you as a teacher when she gets to high school.

    • Bobby


  • WillowTreeWade

    Thank you. My eyes well up reading this. Going through my own mental list of transgressions against my body, my painfully young body. I appreciate your words, they make me feel strong. Fight for that girl, all your girls never let them feel the way we felt. Burn this mother fucker down!

  • Kate

    This really speaks to me. I was in 5th grade and already developed when I had my first experience with being objectified- by the band teacher who used to snap my bra strap. I quit flute and didn’t tell anyone. Same year my friend and I were cornered in a garage by some neighborhood boys who took out their junk and tried to coerce us to kiss their private parts. I was in 8th grade walking home from school when I was forcibly grabbed from behind by some boys on a bike. When I complained they came back and started grabbing at me again. I ran into someone’s backyard and they followed. A man came out on his deck and told the boys that was “enough” and then told me “I better get on home”. Like I was joining in. I was a crying, 12 year old girl and I was to blame for a bunch of older boys assaulting me in his yard.
    The list goes on and how many of us have similar lists? We have become used to being touched and catcalled. We joke about one-liners at bars and feel a drink bought is a kiss earned. We are asked “don’t you like that” and “why are you such a bitch” when we act less than pleased when a strange man grabs and fondles our bodies. We are told to smile and cover up so men won’t want to rape us. I am afraid for my daughter. How do I protect her when I couldn’t protect myself?

    • Louisa Storer

      We keep having these conversations–with our own children and in my own case, the children I work with professionally.

      I’m so sorry any of that happened to you.

  • Rainonyourparade

    I’m tired and I keep going.
    Going because my daughter was assaulted at school by 3 boys who are 4 years older than her, she was 5 1/2 when it happened.
    Who knew that when three boys chase a girl and hit her with a stick on the head, buttocks, arm and leg, pull her hair, cover her mouth and pull her pants and underwear down.
    I have to fight to see the impact to her recognized, to have the boys identified and punished. Fight against a principal who states ” XXXX had the opportunity in my office if she had anything to add.” Because at 5 1/2years, when you are taken into the office, alone without a parent or support, you should say everything that happened. While you are scared you are going to get in trouble for what happened to you. I will fight and I will not stop.
    I have to fight everyday for my daughter who cannot function successfully in her own home as she fears they will come for her, fears they are in her duvet, fears that I cannot take away.
    Day by day she is coming back to who she is but at the age of 6years my role is to support her resilience and sense of safety in a world that is forever changed for her.

    • Wendy

      I am so sorry that this happened to your daughter and the principal was a dick about it – keep fighting the good fight mumma!

    • RogueMom

      I am so sorry your daughter was sexually assaulted too. I was just replying to your comment on my post and saying that I had trouble with people believing what happened. The police believed it but didn’t take it seriously. The therapist she saw through the crime victim’s advocate believed us. It was obvious to anyone who knew her. I can’t understand why people would be so reluctant to believe how bad it has affected our daughters.

    • Sara

      I am so sorry. I know from experience you can feel like you are fighting this all alone, but that’s a lie they want you to believe. You are not alone! A mother’s love is powerful! Keep being strong!

    • Caitlyn

      Oh hell no. That sounds like a lawsuit to me, for the principal and the boy’s parents. I hope you are in a position to homeschool her and heal her sweet heart. I know you are doing everything you can, but never give up. Your willingness to do anything to heal here will be the thing that she looks back on that changed her life, not the assault. Prayers for you and your daughter ❤️

  • Michelle

    I am 52 years old, I have seen and been the recipient of this my intire young life! I have raised 2 son’s and 1 daughter. I taught my children the value of themselves and other people. It will take us mother’s to raise caring men, and women who stand up for themselves and each other.

  • Robin

    I was in kindergarten when two older and much bigger boys trapped me in my bedroom closet. They wouldn’t let me out until I flashed them. It was scary and humiliating. My dad found out after one of the boys’ brothers told him. Did they get the crap beaten out of them or at least have their parents told? No. But I got spanked, hard. I was five years old. Five! What was I supposed to have done? That’s a rhetorical question. I’ll bring the matches Janelle. Hugs to you all.

  • Annie

    I teach alternative education. Several of my kids have been the victim of sexual assault and rape. Some of my kids have been accused of it. The other day a kid made a “joke” about rape and I lost my mind at them. A kid was touching another student, not exactly inappropriately, but it was unwa red and unwarranted. Again, I put all my power into destroying the idea that it was ok.

    I don’t have a daughter, but I have a little sister. Two of them. I wasn’t able to protect one of them when we were both chikdren, but the other is the same age as yoir daughter and I will burn this world to the ground for either of my sisters.

    If we don’t make our anger normal and righteous, their anger will be pushed and hidden too.

    I cannot stomach it, I just can’t.

    I was molested as a kid, raped as a teenager. The problem in both cases is that none of the boys even realized what they did was -wrong-. It hurts, but I’ve used that to never let my anger quiet down.

  • Liesl

    This is exactly why I marched on January 21st. To protest every single “boys will be boys” and “guys are just like that” moments I suffered through in my life. I am 43 years old and it took me that long to raise my voice against it. I am raising a son and a daughter with the fervent hope that this will not be normal for them. Peace. Thanks for writing. ❤️

  • RogueMom

    This spoke to me. My 6 year old daughter was sexually assaulted by an older neighbor boy. He continued to play outside unattended. She was the only one with consequences. In addition to the fear and the shame, she couldn’t play outside because he was always there, hanging around. THIS is a symptom of our fucked up morals in this country.

    • Rainonyourparade

      My heart goes out to you and your daughter.
      “She was the only one with consequences”. Heavy, true and a “flashlight in your face” reality of all that is wrong with our society.
      Parenting a child with trauma is emotional and deep work.

      • RogueMom

        Thank you for your comment. It hasn’t been easy. You know what the second worst thing about the whole thing was? People had a hard time believing that it happened because he was just around 8-9. I felt a tiny smidge of what adult rape victims feel when reporting what happened.

        It never occurred to me to not believe my daughter.

  • Naomi

    I have two teenage boys. They will NEVER snap bras or believe that they own the right to another person’s body, because we are actively raising them to understand and reject rape culture. And when their friends are over, they get an earful too. And I’m hoping (fingers crossed) that my boys have the courage and conviction to say “dude that’s not cool” when a peer or even a friend tries that bullshit.

    It might not be a lot, but it’s at least two.

  • Jennifer

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Im
    trying to teach girls and boys to stand up, be strong and compassionate. I’d like to fix that stupid

  • Itzybellababy

    SO much this. I was so young when I developed breasts.. I was made fun of, taunted.. I hated them, and it did and still does somewhat define my hatred of them.
    Only through feeding my daughter with those breasts did I lose some of this hate, and embrace their power. I fed my child. She grew from what they provided, and I didn’t need to hide them or be embarrassed by them any more.

    Why does anyone need to feel that way about themselves? I was embarrassed about who I was because boys and men couldn’t control themselves around a 9 year old. What the hell is wrong with this world?
    My daughter is going to own her body. She will be ingrained with this and reminded of this.

    And none of this- I am less than crap that I went through. None of it for her. Not from me anyway…

  • csmith

    I talk frequently to my boys about respecting girls, not because they’re girls but because they are people. I talk to my girls about speaking up, expecting better for themselves, and not taking responsibility for some guys bad behavior. And yet, AND YET, when my 15 year old daughter told me that she ordered pizza at work and when she paid in ones a male coworker snickered and said, “anyone would think you were a stripper”, and the 40 something delivery guy looked my little girl up and down and said, “well, you’ve got the body for it”, I sympathized with her, told her they were wrong and said, “we could report him but I would hate to get him fired”. I was immediately horrified at myself, told her I was sorry, I was terribly wrong. He SHOULD be fired. I called the pizza place, filed a complaint and told them in no uncertain terms that I expected that man to never be delivering again. But, I can’t get over my first reaction, I feel brainwashed.

  • Julie

    I believe strongly that we are on the cusp of a true awakening and uprising by women. When I take a step back and look at myself and the majority of women around me (especially mothers) I see incredibly strong and powerful beings. POWERFUL. For the love of God, we push people out of our bodies. We can DO anything.

    • Cynthia

      The hope that in 10, 15, 20 years, the political landscape will have dramatically changed because women were galvanized to enter politics is what keeps me sane. That, and my son(5) is determined to have my daughter(2) elected President when she grows up! 🙂

  • Rachel

    Talking about ‘pussy grabbing’ is DIFFERENT to actually ‘pussy grabbing’.

    It is also different to ‘pussy grabbing without permission’… because ALL sexually active men, in marriages, in relationships, in one night stands, even, touch pussy when given permission by the woman.

    So the pussy grabbing isn’t the issue… it’s the permission part that is. So… what evidence do you have that Trump ever grabbed pussy without permission?

    “White men”?

    So now we’re racist and sexist?

    Western feminists are so blind to how good they’ve got it, and the ‘white man’ in western society generally treats women the best they’ve ever been treated, fairly, equally, gently. Try some of this feminist whining in an Islamic country and see how far it gets you. There is a reason why sexual assaults have skyrocketed in European countries that have opened their borders to predominantly Islamic 3rd world hordes.

    The white man isn’t your problem.

    The 3rd wave constantly complaining, victim-status feminist IS!

    The fact that you should AND can stand up (and teach your girls to stand up) for themselves when it comes to this mild harassment in school by over-eager boys testing their limits… is a CREDIT to ‘WHITE MEN’. It’s not allowed in other cultures!

    • elysium

      Seriously? The Drumpf quote included: “I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married …. I’ve gotta use some tic tacs, just in case I start kissing her … And when you’re a star they let you do it … Grab them by the pussy, you can do anything.” What in that quote implies permission or consent? It describes quite the opposite.

      Did you really just describe Janell’s stories as “mild”? A teenager being threatened by a manager at her job? Or having a stranger put his hand up her skirt as mild? I’m so sorry (genuinely) for the trauma you must have endured to think these things are mild. They are complete and total invasions of bodily autonomy, and they are not okay. I remember the stares and the catcalls and the “stretching” in the hallway that was really a guy reaching out to put his hand on my chest, it started when I was 13. (Now that I usually have a kid in tow, somehow that makes me less of a target.)

      And yes, things are certainly better than when my grandmother and even my mother were my age. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t want better for the world my daughter (and son) grow up in.

      Thank you Janelle for your thoughtful post.

      • renegademama

        Thank you for your comment, Elysium. But I wouldn’t waste your time with “Rachel.” Rachel is an extremely persistent troll hybrid who disagrees adamantly with my politics but insists on returning. A lot. And that’s cool,I like debate, but she won’t be commenting again. Crossed a line here. Fuck with anything relating to my kids = get banned.

        • Wendy

          Good riddance!

        • Annie


        • elysium

          Don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya! 😉

        • ELAINE SMITH

          I worked in Saudi Arabia 16 years until 2012 and this Rachel is a nut job. Never had so much respect from men as I did over there. And I am blue eyed, fair skinned with blond-red hair.

    • Gender Critical Dad

      Its a continuum from this the Ched Evans. And to the porn and prostitution industries that eroticize rape.

  • Tauri

    I think your articles fill up half of my Facebook posts! The damned bra snapping! So frustrating. Even crazier that literally until I read this I hadn’t even lumped that action into an action I Could even be vocally upset about in school. It was so rampant! Thank you for all of this. You say the things that get me amped and introspective.

  • Yocheved

    THIS is why I am so DONE with men. I’m going full Lysistrata on them. I am done with being an outlet for their needs, being a cook, cleaner, and dumping ground for their bad day they had at the office.

    I am glad that my 14yo daughter identifies as a lesbian. I am glad that she is fierce and tough and angry, and she calls out BS when she sees it. She is powerful, and she is not on this earth for anyone’s gratification.

    Without equality, consent, and respect, there is no chance at having a healthy relationship with anyone.

    It’s time for a good old fashioned bonfire. I’ll bring the marshmallows.

  • Paul

    Why are there not more comments from men on this thread? Disappointing. I would like to say thank you for the light. I am a father of two young women, and am a proud feminist. I also work with troubled youth. Behavior that you describe is intolerable, and often criminal. Burn the mf down!!

    • Anouk Hebert


    • Amy

      Paul, thanks for commenting! I’m trying to raise my 4 boys as feminists, too!

    • Stephanie Jankowski

      YES, Paul. YES.

  • Cynthia

    As a fourth grader, I had a middle school age boy repeatedly intimidate me when I was alone in the hallway of my school. I finally kicked him in the shin and ran – and was frightened that I(!) would get in trouble. It NEVER occurred to me to tell someone. I feel sad for my younger self that it didn’t even cross my mind. My daughter will be pre-kindergarten when we begin discussing this issue and I make her aware I will back her actions 100% WHEN she has to defend herself, especially now that this behavior has been officially legitimized. By women, no less! Oh, so much rage.

    Good luck addressing that hateful comment with the teacher’s superiors. That it was said at all, much less in the presence of students, is horrifying.

  • Wendy

    Love this! I am not in the US (and have no plans of visiting while Drumpf is your president) but have a 4.5 yr old daughter so can very much relate to all the mum’s posting here. I also endured similar taunts as a young girl but in my case it was more related to my lack of boobs in comparison to my best friend who was well endowed. Still hurtful, still uninvited and am teaching my daughter NOW about body safety and yes KICK any perpetrator where it hurts and see them try again!

  • Jennifer

    Wow. Well said.

  • Karen

    I’m 62 yrs old and I have 3 grown daughters. Aged 40, 37 and 31. I taught them from a young age that they are not the weaker sex. I constantly said, ” Men and boys are not the boss of you! Remember you are the boss of you. Don’t ever let ANYONE touch you where you don’t want to be touched! I also told them that many people in this world are not feminist like we are and remind them to never find themselves in a bad situation that they had no escape from. It is unfortunate that we have to teach our daughters to be wary of the world. Why after all these centuries don’t we all know that women and men are equal? We as women need to make sure we teach our daughters and sons this from an early age. I will always have this fire that burns inside of me and I know my daughters will also. Fight on ladies! Fight on like your life depends on it! Because it does.

  • freya

    I read this post first thing this morning and I’ve been stewing on it all day. Many times I’ve found myself wondering when we’re going to start burning shit up, and what that will look like when we do. I am so angry. At so many things. So much of your post is true for me. I was catcalled in my school uniform, called ‘a tart’ by my friend’s dad for wearing big jewellery, propositioned by my boss, harassed on work experience. But my anger at the moment is just this weird nebulous nothing. It’s not doing anything. I want our anger to mean something – to get something DONE. I went on the march and I felt something that day, but I want to see things change for all of us. I’m ready to go rogue, guys, seriously. Any ideas?

  • Kelly

    Finally, someone just hit the heart of the matter, “When will we be enough” Thank you!

  • Linda

    I thought this blog was about parenting, but lately it’s become all about your politics.

    • renegademama

      This blog has always been political. You just failed to notice.

      In other news, it’s adorable that you think parenthood can be separated from politics.

    • Julie

      I have to add that this post IS about parenting. Parenting a teenage daughter that was subjected to the ignorant comments of her educators, perpetuating the belief that girls and women somehow ask to be sexually assaulted.

      • renegademama

        Exactly, Julie. But people have a hard time seeing that everything is political. Nothing is arbitrary or neutral. All “parenting” topics – from how we feed our babies, birth, work (maternity leave) to the books we read our kids and conversations at the dinner table – IT IS ALL POLITICAL.

        I’m simply overt about it. I don’t hide my shit. The funniest thing is that silence is just as political, but for some, it’s more comfortable and therefore preferable.

  • Rima

    I grew up in India and woman are objectified a lot there, depending on which part of the country you live in. I have been subjected to literal pussy grabbing from 12-13 onwards, to boobs groping even as a 24 year old, to ‘discreet’ dick rubbing. NO ONE stands up for you. NO ONE. Infact people come up to you and say – “dont wear sleeveless, dont try to be a westerner !!??!!!”
    That seriously put an idea in my head that in western developed countries, young girls are not subjected to this kind of humiliation but of course, I am wrong!
    It doesnt matter how many jobs you claim to bring back as a president, even the insinuation of such a talk is enough to make me puke. What I didnt understand is dismissing it as locker room talk – is that saying something good ? If I knew a man I respect, talks like that behind closed doors – forget doing the act, I could never ever look up to that person. You talk rubbish and awful, you naturally have that brewing in your head somewhere.
    I never wanted to have a daughter because I am scared – how am I supposed to arm her with a spine of steel to brace herself against all this. It shatters your mind and being the first time someone touches you wrongly – how does a parent prepare their kid to not feel that.

    • Lisa

      I am sorry for the humiliation and lack of support you endured. I am also worried about my daughter. We can’t guarantee bad things will never happen. We CAN teach them their worth, their rights, how to defend themselves AND that they can come to us for any reason, anytime.

      That said, my mom was always there for me and I didn’t tell her much because, “boys will be boys”. We need to change what that means and Dads/men who care are our best partners. Also, if my mom or dad asked if I had ever been touched inappropriately, I would have told them. They never asked but that was long ago… things have already changed for the better.

  • Lisa

    “It won’t come to us from them. It will only come through us ONTO them.” Thank you Janelle.

    So many of us are done with the bullshit. Your outrage and active response are shared by many concerned mamas and papas. My husband and I are very worried about the world our daughter is growing up in. She is only 19 months old but her Dad and I are already helping her navigate by valuing her strength, opinions, confidence and bodily autonomy.

    My best friends 6 year old daughter has been doing Karate for a year and loves it. That sounds like something to try too…

    Tiger moms and dads unite – Grrrrr!

  • Heather

    Wow! I’ve got so many thoughts swirling around this issue, but I’ll start with the obvious. The solution is simple, just not easy (apparently) for some people to accomplish and you’ve said it time and again in your blog: don’t be a dick.

    As parents, we need to teach our kids to be respectful of others (starting in preschool with “don’t touch your friends” or “keep your hands to yourself” regarding invading someone’s physical space). But we also need to teach our kids to not be a victim; to stand up for themselves. Tell them it is not EVER acceptable for someone to touch them (or even invade their space) without permission. And if they do, don’t hide it and don’t take the blame for it. And when they do tell someone, we need to support the hell out of them.

    Secondly, there is the underlying and pervasive issue of girls’ self-esteem and the numerous studies of how girls’ self-esteem plummets around middle school (age 11-13). And I don’t think many girls get that self-esteem back as they grow into women, not without a LOT of hard work. I recently read Amy Cuddy’s book Presence based off her TED talk. The basic premise she’s trying to share is that our physical body postures (how we carry ourselves) can have a very real (as in scientifically provable via the presence/lack of certain hormones) affect of our state of mind. Submissive postures (head lowered, shoulders in) result in decreased self-confidence. I would make the connection that as girls go through puberty and their bodies change – thinking specifically of breast development, they automatically take on those submissive postures as they try to conceal their development. I’m not saying that is the only cause, but I think it’s certainly something to be aware of and to perhaps counteract with encouragement, support, and maintaining dominant body postures (the most famous and awesomely-named being the “Wonder Woman pose”).

    I talk with my soon-to-be 13 year old daughter a lot about self-worth and self-esteem. She’s getting a little tired of it 🙂 . But when I told her some of my middle school experiences (similar to what’s already been mentioned), she seemed aghast that anyone would do those things. I’m going to take that as a sign of hope that some amount of progress is being made, not only for her strong spirit, but also that her classmates are being respectful and will hopefully grow to be respectful adults.

    • Rogue Mom

      I think it’s a fine line between teaching them to not be a victim and sending the message that if you are a victim of a crime (which is not a choice) you should have been a little stronger or done something different.


    I remember the girls with the breasts getting the disrespect and glares of boys and male teachers alike. On the opposite side of that spectrum, being the small girl with no breasts, I got called names, even by the other girls “flatso” sticking in my mind the most. Raped by a man who’s house I cleaned while his ultra-Christian wife was not home and threatened with death if I said anything. Fired from a job because I would not take as a compliment the married boss’s constant sexual remarks or that of the male sales reps (I was the only female in this office). The list goes on.

    As a grandmother of 3 girls and 2 boys, the boys are learning to respect women and the girls are learning to stand up for themselves and all of them are learning to not take bullying of any kind.

    Indeed, I’m with you on burning the whole thing to the ground!!!! Chump and his supporters are a disgrace and for eons our own Mother Earth has been raped and pillaged relentlessly. There are SOME men who DO respect and honor women, and I do wish to acknowledge those few, for by honoring them, more may come into focus.

  • Karen

    I’m ready to hang some sexy man angel/devil mud flaps on my Prius. Let’s see how men appreciate the objectification.

  • karen lindquist

    Thanks for this essay. It is very timely as a rad fem friend just posted a situation in her daughter’s school in Arkansas. She has a music teacher who demands that girls come sit very close to him, and when her daughter was told to come sit so close he was touching her, she moved her chair over a little, and he moved it back and said if she wanted to have recess she would leave it there.

    The daughter complained to her mother about how much she dislikes this man and how he does this to girls only, but is insistent and blackmails them with things he will take away if they don’t do it.

    Th mother was beside herself, and worried about repercussions for going to the principal and complaining. We are supposed to be silenced by the fear of the repercussion. Fuck that.

    I hope women will start to band together and stick together and support one another as we stand up to this bullshit and demand things change.

    It’s time for the pussy grabbers to lose some hands.

    • nick

      as a teacher, don’t worry about the repercussions. If the principal doesn’t act, shout it from the rooftops. Most teachers are in the profession as they love children and would do anything to protect them. If the principal isn’t one of these people, keep shouting until the good teachers take notice. I guarantee 99% of teachers would be horrified by this

  • Caitlin

    Thank you for this.
    Even though I was raised by feminists and dykes, I STILL Responded to being raped at 16 by an older, richer, boy in the basement of a new friend whose mother I didn’t know well and so didn’t feel I could wake up or ‘make a fuss’ in her house which may have stopped it (the whole thing took place over an hour at least) with nothing but pure shame. Didn’t occur to me for one minute that it was not my fault or would be something anyone would want to hear. I buried it, dropped out of the college these people were acquaintances from, got into drugs and clubs and exposed myself to more predatory fuckers… I was a smart kid. I had reported a kid touching my bum at school and been taken seriously in the past. The fact that EVEN I reacted that way speaks volumes about society and rqpe culture. I’m so sad for the young me that happened to. Twenty years ago. Some wounds never quite heal do they.

    • Charlene Stull

      I just want it known that while I don’t have daughters, I WILL raise my boys better then that. They will NEVER put their hands on any female in a way that was not explicitly asked for in a sober state of mind. I as a mother of boys I cannot stand the idea that “boys will he boys” in still an excuse in 2017. Boys will be dicks of you raise them that way. Simple as that.

  • Stephanie Jankowski

    How the hell did I forget about the bra strap snapping?! We need more parents like you to let the young girls know it’s NOT okay, it’s NOT normal, but also to remind the other parents of the same. Preach on, woman.

  • Lauren Wallett

    This couldn’t have come at a more relevant time for me. Debating whether I should speak up against the harassment and injustice I’ve faced knowing that the burning will follow. It provides solace to know that it’s not just me and that we must stand strong and allow our voices their right to be heard. Thank you for writing this.
    Love, Lauren

  • nick

    interesting read.
    i haven’t read the other comments, so i dont know what they’ve said, but from my perspective, you need to stop thinking of men as the ones doing these things, and rather think of them as assholes.
    I’m a man, and you better believe if any kid at school flicks my daughters bra strap, she’s gonna be told to turn around and slap that asshole right in the face, and i’ll deal with any consequences that the school thinks they’ve gonna hand out.
    Women need to speak out more about these things, there are far more men on your side than you believe, only other assholes like assholes, realise that most men are more than willing to help deal with assholes

    • Jessica

      I agree. There is much more to this then just blaming men

  • Jessica

    Today I am so sad for all the reasons why the world is a fuckedup place and why so little seem to care enough to stand up against those things… i have had my own history of men too.. abused. Raped. Grabbed. Disrespected. Taken advantage of. It all started at home. Where my dad never seemed to care enough.. so why would i feel as if i was worth anything? Got a daughter now and i sure as hell make sure her father gives her what i didnt got. And i sure as hell make sure I will burn the whole goddamn place down if anything would happen to her. And i make sure she will feel confident and worthy enough that she wouldnt attract those situations in the first place. But i am still licking my wounds. And my basic trust with men or people in general seems to be fucked to the core. And i cry for this. Today i cry.

  • Julie A Bowman

    I remember being in 7th grade art class and a boy snapped my bra so hard that it came UNDONE. I had to ask to for a pass to go to the bathroom and got in trouble b/c we were supposed to go at lunch right before. I had to explain WHY I was going….and did the teacher care? NOPE. I was the one who felt like I did something wrong and was humiliated!!!

  • Leigh Green

    The best way to fight the system is to raise ethical, compassionate, loving, brave and strong humans like you do. Thank you for leading the pack.

  • Kory

    It’s already starting….my hometown newspaper just had an article about a local restaurant owner who has been arrested for inappropriately touching and harassing his employees, some of them teens.

    Shit like this used to happen all the time when I was younger, and nobody ever ended up in jail over it, or even reprimanded for that matter, but those times are over. Women are sick of this shit and will not tolerate second-class status any longer. The look of fear is evident in the eyes of pervy guys at work and in the public. There have been some really relevant South Park episodes lately, too, they obviously can see the shift coming as well.

    Nice has gotten us nowhere. Patience and kindness and reasoning have gotten us nowhere. It is time for action. Good luck, motherfuckers, cause we’re fighting back now!!!

  • Laura Haggarty

    It began when I was 12. A neighbor boy pushed me down and kissed me against my will. He crowed “Your first kiss, aren’t you glad?” I was confused, because one is supposed to be happy about one’s first kiss. But this was done without my consent. And I was supposed to be glad?

    Also that summer, I was out in the woods playing with the neighbor kids (we ranged far and wide in a pack) and had gotten off by myself in the ravine near our school. A teenage boy I didn’t know appeared suddenly, grabbed me, and threw me to the ground. He pinned me down and started stuffing my mouth with grass and leaves to keep me from making any noise. I had no idea what he was doing, and while I was strong for my age, I couldn’t get him off of me. Before he could do anything further, my other friends appeared and he jumped up and ran off. It didn’t occur to me that he was perhaps attempting to rape me until I was much older.

    After I graduated from college I went to work in a very male-dominated industry, screen printing/graphic arts. I got a job as a supervisor. The men who worked for me were clearly unhappy. One man said “You’re really pretty until you open your mouth.”

    Later I went to work for a company that sold screen printing supplies. I was the only woman (other than the receptionist) in the company I worked for. I was the only woman I knew of in the industry. I worked in sales, and often had to fend off veiled passes. One customer took me into his warehouse one day to ostensibly check on the ink stocks with him. Once in there, away from others, he pushed me up against a wall and grabbed my breasts. I was frozen, not knowing what to do. I didn’t want to mess things up for my bosses, who relied on this man’s business. I wasn’t dressed provocatively, but in a business suit. I pushed him away and he acted like nothing had happened. I didn’t tell my boss.

    Once, at an industry dinner, a customer who had gotten very drunk, told me his wife was barren, and he was looking for someone to bear him a child. He wanted to know if I would do that for him. I was gobsmacked, and got up and left the room.

    Once I had a boss who walked up behind me and started stroking my hair. When I practically leapt out of my chair he shushed me, saying it was no big deal, and that he just liked my hair and wanted to touch it.

    Once I had a boss who invited me up to his hotel room after a convention in a neighboring city. I politely refused, as I could see where he was going with that. Not long afterwards he had me fired for a bogus reason because I wouldn’t sleep with him. I fought him in unemployment court and won.

    I’ve dealt with my share of catcalls and the like. I’ve had men refuse to deal with me when it came to a financial transaction, insisting on clearing things with my husband (when I am the one who pays the damned bills!) I’ve had my share of men grabbing my ass on public transport.

    None of these things are unusual. I am sure there are more incidents I am not remembering. Women deal with this every day. It doesn’t make us victims, we don’t have a “victim mentality.” It is abuse, pure and simple, and frankly I’m just over it.

  • Gene-Manuel Whirling

    I’m ready! I’ll burn the fucker down with you and my partner will join us, of that I am sure!!! What a wonderful post. Thank you for writing it.

  • BJ

    “…as hordes of white men systematically deconstruct women’s healthcare…”

    You mean white men like Claudia Tenney (R-NY), Karen Handel (R-GA), and Liz Cheney (R-WY)? Those white men who voted to repeal the ACA?

    Maybe our country would be better served if we didn’t look at everything through a boys-versus-girls mentality.

    • CP

      Oh dear. There’s always one person who has to pull out a minute part of a post and argue it. It doesn’t matter that the vast majority of those trying to deconstruct women’s healthcare are men just as long as this person can pull out something to try to deflect from the issue.
      Maybe this country would be better served if men didn’t act hostile towards women – physically or via regulations on their bodies.

  • emptynest mama

    Reading this brought back 40+ year old memories. Bad memories.

    The bra- snapping. The boys pinching my behind as we walked in line. Quiet little me suddenly swung and punched one boy. The shock that I stood up against it made them quit.

    In high school, getting trapped against a counter when I was helping the librarian on a project with 2 other boys. I grabbed a pair of scissors and STABBED. I missed entirely, but they gave me room to get out. And God Bless the librarian who listened to me and banned those boys from the library for the rest of their school lives. Back before computers, that was a big deal!

    Hitting a boy in college, who was visiting a roommate, and there was a drunk party going on and he tried to grope me. And the other roommates SCOLDED me because “He liked me!” “And you didn’t need to hit him!”

    Yes, I did.

    I raised my son and my daughter to give everyone respect- especially themselves. My parents weren’t perfect, but that’s one gift they gave me. And I tried to give it to my children.

    But how many times did I see and hear people just shrug things like that off and be told, “Boys will be boys!” or, “Well, just ask for your locker to be moved…. sit on the other side of the room if you don’t want to hear him…. just ignore him.”

    I ran into high-school jerk about 20 years ago. He said, “My wife just had twin daughters. I am so sorry about what I did in high school. I would want my girls to have scissors on hand too.”

    Maybe there’s hope yet.

  • emptynest mama

    And as a P.S. Does anyone remember that awful Warner Bros. cartoon character Pepe Le Peu? The skunk who was always chasing girl cats or girl skunks even as they frantically tried to get away from his amorous advances? I never liked that cartoon as a kid; couldn’t ever tell you ‘why?’ until I got older, but ol’ Pepe truly was a rotten old skunk!

  • mummabear

    Ah yes, the bra snaps. I hated that too. I hated the teasing because I was the girl with the big breasts (that I tried so hard to hide). I hated the ‘show us your tits’ from the boys at school, usually several times a week. I hated the random gropes of the breast as I walked from class to class, outraged but never knowing who it was. I hated the wolf whistles and more ‘show us your tits’ walking past construction sites. I hated it when a group of teenage boys surrounded me as I walked home from school, terrifying me but thankfully not hurting me beyond the usual taunts.

    And these were the minor things. Then there was the guy who walked with me from school one day only to decide to come in despite my protests and then me having to use a lot of dodging, pushing and fast talking to try to stop his unwanted groping and kissing from escalating. Then there were the two older male relatives that sexually abused me from early childhood to mid teens. Then the ‘nice old man’ in the shop next door who casually put his finger inside me while a bunch of us neighborhood kids visited. I’d have been about 9yo. And later, a couple of guys I was dating decided saying no over and over and over was irrelevant.

    These are not things I speak of aloud, but when I say ‘me too’ I’m not talking about an isolated incident or one bad egg but a multitude of incidents from a bunch of outwardly respectable young and old men.

    Now I hope my daughters don’t get to experience even the smallest of these.

  • James M. Grandone

    I don’t remember ever snapping anyone’s bra strap or daring to put my hand between a girl’s legs in junior high school. What little I do remember from then was sports and teachers and a crush on a girl named Marcia.
    I concur with the outrage this author has expressed and those harrassments were not appropriate then and they are not now. I want to correct one misconception the author has about how many women voted for Trump. It was not a majority. Only a bit more than half of the citizens in the U.S. are registered to vote. Of that half, Hillary got a majority. Trump got less votes than Hillary and only 53 percent of the women who were registered to vote.
    It is my belief that they do not represent a majority of women in the United States but I will never know for sure unless more women register and vote against creeps like Trump.

  • Karen Patten

    Isn’t the grabbing, oogling, and entitlement to our bodies wrong just because we are human? Do we also have to be your mother or your daughter? Can’t we just be women in our own right – not tied to you to – be deserving of your respect and bodily integrity? And, as a mother of boys, I’m sick of this boys will be boys shit. Boys are taught to be “boys” just as much as girls are taught that they are not enough. And we can teach the girls to burn the mf down (which I love) all we want – but until we teach the (typical) perpetrators, the boys, that they don’t have to behave this way to be masculine, then we won’t get very far.

    And Janelle, please don’t ever stop writing!

  • Trackbacks

  • Trackback from I understand why women don’t run. - renegade mothering
    Wednesday, 7 February, 2018

    […] We are pretty. And they want to have us, and if we don’t deliver, we are out of line, breaking the pact, fucking with the natural order of things. Blue balls, et cetera. You know. Perhaps we are used to enduring, to not liking it, to giving in. Perhaps we’ve done it countless times. […]

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