Every woman has a coming of age story; they can trace back to the day the moment they realized that there were no longer a little girl and that they had become a woman. For some it may be the first day Lady Flow came to visit, or the intimate loss of your virginity. For me, it didn’t really happen how I ever thought it would.
It was 8th grade. I had already hit puberty years before, but it was in that year that I officially deemed myself a woman. I was in math class, bending over my desk to talk to a friend who sat in front of me. When suddenly the boy behind me slapped my ass. I was shocked. I was humiliated. How could this boy feel that it was okay to slap me and then make a joke about “my nice ass”? I turned around and slapped him. The moment my hand connected with his cheek the class got silent. My teacher approached me, asked what happened and when I told her she sent me to the office.
When I got to the principal’s office I sat quietly waiting, wondering what was going to happen to the boy who slapped my ass. Was he going to get suspended? Was he going to apologize? What was going to happen…
“you should not have assaulted another student, no matter what you claim he did.”
“he’s just being a boy.”
He’s just being a boy?!
“boys will be boys, so don’t give them the chance.”
Boys will be boys, so because I bent over my desk, I gave him a chance.
I was sent back to class and made to apologize to him. I was told that I, as a woman, needed to be the bigger person, apologize, and move on because boys will be boys.
That day I made the transition from being a little girl to a woman. It didn’t happen over time, it happened in minutes, in seconds. I went from innocence, to being sexualized and told to not give boys the chance to harass me. We are deemed to be women from the second that we are able to fill out our first real bra, but men, no matter their age, are deemed boys until their maturity levels have heightened. I didn’t have a beautiful coming of age story. When it comes down to it I was told I was a woman through the words and actions of a male principal who excused a boy for slapping my ass. It certainly wasn’t on my terms and I know I’m not the only one. I became a woman the moment that boy’s hand touched my ass and I continue to be reminded that I am a woman every day…
In schools now girls are sent home because their outfits are distracting to boys education, they are told to go home and change causing themselves to miss classes, to miss out on their education. When I was in school I saw boys wearing shirts that had women in bikinis straddling a motorcycle and yet they weren’t dress coded. We are constantly excusing boys behavior with “boys will be boys”, we are giving them permission to think that we need to conform to them constantly by saying a girl needs to go home and change because her clothes are distracting. While yes, there are girls who wear some pretty raunchy clothing, there are also boys with the same problem. The first step to fixing a problem is admitting there is one.
1 in 5 girls Will Be Survivors of childHood sexual abuse, and that is 1 too many.
Featured Image Via Brandy Melville