I ruled the playground for the first several years of grade-school, but then I was forced to get glasses. My popularity vanished almost overnight. I was a smart, dorky girl for a period from 4th grade through 9th grade, when my mom got me contact lenses. Before this occurred, I'd learned that the shy and weak attract aggressors. As I grew more attractive the whole creepy thing just got worse. We lived on the outskirts of town, and I had about 1 1/2 miles to walk to school, a good part on a truck bearing roadway. Fun, huh?
Guys honked and whistled and shouted obscenities -- it was AWFUL. As I became much more willing to take a stand the violence surrounding me grew. Things were so much different then. Girls sat primly on the grass, forced to wear SKIRTS in the worst of weather. Seriously, it didn't matter how hard it was raining or how freaking cold it was - our legs had to be bare or we had to wear those primitive stockings and GIRDLES -- oh the horror!
For those who are too young to know what these atrocities are, look 'em up, the ghastly things. There were no comfortable leggings or tights for us. I doubt that anyone gave any thought to the girls and our comfort, and I remember the feeling of unfairness that my legs and I endured throughout my school years.
The boys, however, could of course wear pants and sprawl around as they pleased. I've always liked lying around, so it occurred to me one day to relax at lunchtime like the guys! Within minutes people were throwing tomatoes and other foods at me, and even some rocks. When I got up later I found a dead bird in my purse. My companion, an exchange student from Spain, was so furious he wanted to cause mayhem. How could this happen in the great America, he wondered.
These memories are coming up again, and there are a lot of them. The shaming didn't just come from the boys/men either. The dean of girls called me a "witch" in front of a few hundred people. My senior history teacher made inappropriate remarks about me when he caught me day-dreaming, intimating that I was day dreaming about last night's SEX. Oh please. If that isn't sexism, pure and simple, I don't know what is. "Slut-shaming" is its more "mature" and uglified self;
These few stories are a tiny fraction of that kind of behavior and its effect on my life, or on the lives of others who've had the same sort of experience. I have been sexually assaulted and experienced the kind of "slut-shaming" that is occurring once again in our land. This was years ago, and in some ways I do not think I am over it. I still automatically crosses the street when I see more than one man hanging out together on a sidewalk. I am still shy in ways that I think I ought not to be and a lot of this scarring originates from the YEARS of that kind of vicious sexism. I prefer now to live in a more isolated fashion.
Who's afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? Hell yes -- I am. Being chased down a country road near Sacramento by the ZODIAC KILLER didn't help. But that story is for another time,
I think -- yes, it seems that at this time our culture is even more severely degraded. The very real victims of a society gone wrong are its children. I look at the faces of the kids who've been scarred, at home or at school, and wonder what the hell is wrong with us, as individuals and as a country.