I was in 3rd grade, running through the fields at recess so that the boys couldn’t catch me. This had been going on for a few days now– a group of boys would chase me and my friends during our lunch break because they ‘liked us’ and wanted to ‘kiss us.’ I remember I was running as fast as I could, when suddenly I decided to stop.
I was tired of running.
I turned around as the boy was coming up to grab me. He hadn’t listened when I told him to stop, and I wanted him to. So I kicked him as hard as I could between his legs.
He stopped chasing me.
Now, I’m not promoting violence as the answer, but this memory popped into my head after the last few days of reading all the countless amounts of #MeToo stories that women have had to go through in their lives.
I don’t usually like to talk about topics like this. It’s not that I don’t like conflict, I just don’t like arguing with people that don’t listen. But this one’s important.
If you see how many people are posting #MeToo on social media right now… How is it possible that so many of us have experienced this? I mean, even I’ve experienced it. I don’t want to satisfy any disrespectful minds with the details, so I won’t be sharing my own stories, but I do want to voice my opinion.
With this many women sharing, it can’t all just be 1 guy assaulting 500 women. They really are people around us. Last night, I was talking to my boyfriend saying, “I don’t know where these guys exist. I feel so grateful that I’m surrounded by good people in my life.” A little later on that night, I found ‘these guys.’ I found them as I was scrolling through my phone on social media. As some of you may know, I’m a martial artist, and last night a friend tagged me in a video compilation I was included in with a lot of talented martial artists. I was excited to have been featured, and then noticed a comment below the one he tagged me in. It was a thread of over 100 comments of guys disrespectfully talking about a woman’s body from the video. Publicly and shamelessly.
Now, I’m not claiming that all these men are rapists, but this is where it starts. Where it’s okay to talk publicly and disrespectfully talk about a body that’s not yours. So that’s the first thing I want to talk about, is our “rape culture.”
Rape culture is the concept of sexual assault becoming normalized due to it’s prevalence and our society’s attitudes about gender roles and sexuality.
Maybe you don’t believe it, but you do become normalized to your surroundings. See, when I was in 6th grade, I won an essay competition and an award about being Drug-Free. I meant it. A few years later in high school, I had a boyfriend whose life and friends surrounded drugs. After a couple years of being resistant, this became so close and normal to me that even I doubtful as well.
Rape culture surrounds us everywhere, unnoticed. A few months ago in college, I was working with a group on a school project. One of the guys walked in and said, “Dude, that test totally raped me yesterday.” It wasn’t until he saw me at the table that he said, “Oh, I probably shouldn’t say that.”
Shouldn’t you just not think like that?
Rape culture: It’s in every catcall, every demeaning remark that we’re supposed to take as compliments, every song we sing without paying attention to (have you heard lyrics of some music lately?), it’s in every disgusting YouTube comment I have to delete and block off my videos. And it’s in every time I read on the news that some guy/athlete/celebrity rapes a girl and… he get’s how little jail time?
I don’t have a quick solution for how to fix all this, but I do want to focus on something that I can do.
I want to create a change. I want to make girls strong and boys respectful. I do believe part of this starts when we’re kids. I remember learning that if a boy teases you or is mean to you, it’s because he likes you and wants your attention. And I remember not telling anyone about me kicking the boy that was chasing me in 3rd grade because I was scared I’d be sent to the principal’s office. We’re taught to accept the behavior and stay quiet.
A small, but possibly impactful way to make a change is to be aware of the way we teach kids to act. Both boys and girls.
We all have a responsibility in this.