When I first saw the #metoo hashtag, for a second I thought that maybe a parent was happy with the story gave my children's book Metoo, the Annoying Littler Sister a hashtag.
As I started reading what the hashtag is about and the personal stories I've read so far had opened my eyes to this widely accepted "boys will be boys" mindset for so long that it became part of our lives.
Those who started this movement deserve a huge thank you from all of us!
When I was growing up it was kind of expected from teenage boys to grope and "tease" girls, lift their skirts or unstrap their bras and nobody considered a sexual assault. Those boys who were decent enough not to do it were called sissies or pansies.
Girls felt humiliated, uncomfortable as well as violated, but complaining to teachers in school was futile because of the age-old excuse, 'boys will be boys" was so deep-seated that girls were blamed for bringing about assaults or even rape by dressing or acting too provocatively, being too pretty, and not being modest.
Yes, it does sound like the culture where women have to hide their bodies and faces under potato-sack-like clothes so they don't excite men, but they get raped, abused, and assaulted anyway. Sick bastards always find the excuse to degrade and assault women to 'keep them in their place" of ignorance and oblivion.
When I was a young teenager, even my own mother said, 'You're a pretty girl so boys pick on you. If you were ugly they wouldn't touch you or tease you." Nice, huh?
My dad and my protective brother got furious when I told them about the humiliating incidents. Having a macho image, they reacted violently. Once a boy about 3 years older than me snapped my bikini top off at the beach and while everyone laughed, I ran for cover. I was so upset, not only because he did that to me and exposed my just budding breasts but because everyone was laughing with him. I was shaking by the time I got home with a towel wrapped around me. I told my dad what happened. He had daggers in his eyes and after I changed, he asked me to go with him and show him the boy. When we got to the beach and I pointed out my attacker, dad walked up to him, stared him down and suddenly reached over and yanked his swimming shorts so hard that it ripped apart leaving the boy naked. He yelled at the frightened kid, "Touch my daughter again and I'll feed your pitiful looking balls to my dog."
The boy was humiliated and got a little taste of his own medicine. Moreover, because he wasn't as well equipped in the midsection of his body as other boys his age, the "peanut" nickname that someone yelled out while they were laughing at him, stuck with him for life.
Being a woman, I felt sorry for the boy. Yeah, we have a huge heart and we embrace everyone who gets hurt, we're just built that way.
So, instead of complaining or looking for help or sympathy, I learned to defend myself. I used witty comments when I could, I avoided situations as much as I could, and I admit, I kicked, clawed and punched a few macho boys in my time.
Sexual assaults didn't end with elementary school, it continued at work as well and the excuse changed to "men will be men."
As a young nurse, I experienced it quite a few times. My first day started in the surgical unit with a short, chubby, bald doctor slapping my butt and he said, "Aren't you pretty? We're going to have some fun here, you'll see." I looked at the charge nurse for advice and she just rolled her eyes, "He's a harmless old goat. Don't pay attention to him." she said.
Well, I did and it bothered me a lot that every chance he got this sweaty midget with foul breath grabbed me or tried to rub against me. One time he snuck up behind me when I was doing a urinalysis at the counter. He grabbed my waist and tried to hump my thigh. I turned and threw a cupful of urine in his face. He threatened to fire me but for some reason he didn't and left me alone after that.
I support this movement with all my heart!
Hopefully by sharing stories more and more men and women will open their eyes and start changing the mindset of society for our daughters and granddaughters.
Men or women, read the stories that women are sharing by typing the hashtag #metoo in social site search. Thank you for reading mine!
Erika M Szabo
Author of urban fantasy, magical realism novels and children's books,
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