Imagine for a minute you are the father of a daughter, let’s make her a teenager. Now, imagine your teenage daughter sits in quiet dark corner of the girls locker room, embarrassed and ashamed. Through teary eyes she rushes to change, hoping to beat the ring of the bell, hoping to avoid the stares, whispers, and laughs that are sure to ensue.
Today during gym class the popular boys thought it would be a good idea to pull up her shirt, today she stood horrified as everyone in her gym class stared at her bare exposed breast. Although, only tiny buds have developed, not as full as the other girls her age, not much more than the flat chest of her prepubescent years; however, she is still mortified.
Her gym teacher steps in, reprimands the boys for the inappropriateness of their conduct, sending them to the principals office. Her gym teacher than walks her to the locker room, excusing her from participating in the remainder of the class. Understanding her shame, her teacher allows her to spend the rest of class in the locker room away from the others – the others that laughed, pointed, and called her names.
She spends the rest of the day trying to ignore the stares and whispers of the school mates that have heard about her traumatizing ordeal and even though she simply turns a blind-eye the shaming doesn’t stop.
“She liked it, she wanted the attention, look at her always acting innocent but she like that they pulled up her shirt,” one girl, who never before today knew she existed, states as she walks toward her locker.
“Hey there itty bitty, I see those titties are coming in,” followed by a humorously-intended pinch is directed at her developing breast by another boy whose name she doesn’t know.
” I don’t know why she acting like that, she should be glad they even thought about her small chested ass,” remarks another girl.
She quietly cries in the bathroom, unsure of what she did to deserve this – she didn’t dress revealing, she didn’t entice the boys by smiling in their faces, she didn’t ask for this by wanting to be anyone’s girlfriend; she simply came to school, went to class and stayed to herself.
The mandatory notifications are made, the schools contacts you and the parents of the boys who pulled up her shirt. In the days leading up to the scheduled meeting, your daughter withdraws. When you daughter comes home she doesn’t talk about her day anymore, she locks herself in her room and cries, and when you try to reach out to her she closes herself off to you. The day of the meeting arrives, you walk in with this empty unfamiliar girl that once was your daughter, you both sit and await the arrival of the other parties.
Upon entering, the boys all greet each other, laughing and hand gesturing in salutation, not one takes the time to see the way your daughter shrinks herself when they walk into the room or how her eyes well with tears she tries adamantly not to allow to fall.
Introductions are made, parents identified and the formal addressing of the incident commences. The principal allows your daughter to speak first, to give her side of the “story”. You reach for her hand but she pulls away, you watch as her strength gives and tears fall from the beautiful eyes you’ve seen glimmer since she entered this world, now the only shine they possess are the tears that form.
You listen intently as she relives each morbid moment of shame and embarrassment, you hear the snickers and jeers of the boys as she sobs through every horrifying detail of her violation. The principal silences the boys, despite the reprimanding warning the boys continue silently exchanging looks – no remorse, no understanding, and no fear. Your daughter falls silently as she finishes her account and the boys are allowed to speak.
The first boys presents that the incident is simply a “prank”, a funny joke that your daughter is making a big deal. The second defends that your daughter should have had on a bra, if she had then her exposure wouldn’t have been so bad. The third sits silently, shame and humiliation spread across his face but he refuses to accept his part; instead, he mumbles something about it was just them trying to be funny – to get her to lighten up, that they were just playing.
After all parties have spoken and all accounts given each parent sits anxiously awaiting the decision of punishment, it is decided that the boys will miss their first game for inappropriate misconduct.
Your daughter holding on to all she has left falls into uncontrollable sobs. “ONE GAME”, she shouts. “They exposed my naked breast to every person in the gym, people are whispering about me, people are staring at me. They say I should have had on a bra, what respectable girl doesn’t wear a bra; but, I was just standing there” she screams.
She gathers her things in defeat, she has lost – nothing will happen to these boys they will carry on being popular athletes and she will be the whispers and stares of shame. Your daughter stares at you through pleading eyes, they scream “LETS GO DAD”, although she never says a word.
As you exit the office, one boy’s father calls out to you, he offers his apologies – almost seems regretfully remorseful of his son’s behavior. As he concludes his seemingly remorseful words the last thing you hear him say as he turns to leave is, “I’m so sorry for what happened to your daughter; but, boys will be boys.”
You stare at your daughters hurt ridden face and you recall hearing word ringing with bone chilling similarity; words used as justification of wrongs done by you and/or other men and boys alike.
Many will read this and view it has an exaggeration of what it is to walk in the shoes of a woman or girl; but, this is our reality.
Women and girl alike, are subjected to objectifying behaviors on account of men and boys daily – the unwanted cat calls, the stares, inappropriate compliments, and even being told to smile (as if that same sentiment would be expressed to a man).
These are our truths, this is our existence simply because we are born women. Our purpose is not for your entertainment, it is not to be tools to flex and reassure masculinity, and are we created for the purpose of establishing your place among your friends.
Women are human beings, deserving of respect and consideration – women are someone’s daughter, sister, mother, niece, and/or cousin – no different than the ones relative to any man reading this post.
Before you act, speak, or express an interactive thought towards a woman – ask yourself if this were my family would I want a man to do x, y, or z to her today.