IF BOYS WILL BE BOYS Part One – It Never Stops
**TRIGGER WARNING – Sexual Assault Content.
If boys will be boys..
Girls will continue to be harassed, slut-shamed, violated, abused, raped, and killed.
Harsh you say?
Over the top?
I have been violated by men my whole life. It began when I was far too young and I’ve experienced it as recently as a month ago.
And that is the ultimate and sad reality. It is perpetual. It never stops.
I was in kindergarten when a boy pulled my undies down after he caught me playing chasey.
I screamed and cried out, the teacher came and got me, took me to the bathroom to wash my face and stop crying.
I was wailing, couldn’t breathe, scared, confused, angry.
It was a complete violation of my most private space, on a school playground, in front of a crowd of kids.
The trauma from that day has stayed with me until this very day, and its not even close to being the worst of it.
But nothing happened.
The boy wasn’t punished.
I don’t remember him even being spoken to.
From the age of 5 I learned that my voice did not matter.
Boys will be boys, sure.
And that is only a small part. And only the beginning.
It never stops.
I was violated in a game of laser tag. A boy came up to me and jammed the gun down my top. He moved it up and down against my breasts, so hard that it was quite painful.
Then he just ran off.
I froze. For what felt like the longest time after.
I didn’t say anything.
Not to anyone.
Not the people I was with, the little fucker that did that to me, the people at the front desk. I said nothing.
It didn’t matter.
My voice didn’t matter.
Boys will be boys after all.
I was sexually harassed constantly at one of my jobs. It was factory work and it was most certainly a place where boys will be boys.
Most of the men there would just leer at my breasts when I walked past, some would make a rude comment. All without apology.
Like it was their right to do that.
Like I was a juicy piece of meat to be ogled.
It didn’t matter.
A ‘workmate’ came up to me one lunchtime while I was eating a banana and said “I’d love to come back as a banana, so you can suck on me like that.”
We are not even spared in our workplaces, eating our lunch.
Another co-worker bent me over a machine once and dry humped me.
It was the late shift so very few people were in the factory. And this was quite a large factory. Where one could easily be raped.
So I best keep my mouth shut..
Just boys being boys, in a boys club.
What was I even doing there right?
I had a supervisor come up and hug me and rub himself against my chest and say “Oh god your boobs are so lovely and soft”.
It never stops.
My body has been remarked on my entire life. By men young and old. Its interesting, I used to think perhaps those boys just grow into men one day and respect women.
But of course that’s not how it goes.
You are taught how to treat people.
And ‘boys being boys’ is teaching our boys that they can disrespect women, violate them, and that behaviour is okay.
And even if that behaviour does come into question, it is dismissed, simply because you have a penis.
So you’re cool to do things like that, it’s even a little bit funny.
Oh boys being boys!
My 70 year old neighbour even makes remarks that are sexual in nature. Saying things like “I love living next to a good looking woman like you”, and when I’m on my way to the gym “Can I come watch?”
But then he says, “You don’t mind me saying things like that.”
So it’s okay because he has spoken for me.
My voice doesn’t matter.
I have been grabbed on the ass by my, at the time new, boyfriend’s father. I’d never met the man.
No one said anything. Not my boyfriend, not me. Because it doesn’t matter. My voice doesn’t matter and I don’t matter.
It never STOPS.
And I can imagine some people are reading this thinking, well I just would never let that happen.
But it’s amazing what you will ‘let happen’ when you are alone and afraid and have been taught your whole life that your voice does not matter.
You tell yourself that long enough and what you actually hear and begin to believe is I don’t matter.
And I can tell you that is the beginning of a very scary and dangerous belief about yourself.
That you don’t matter.
It leads to so much pain and even more violation. It never stops. It becomes in some ways, normal. In some ways, we concede to the mantra.
Boys will be boys.
And I will continue to be violated, abused, and suffer in shame, SILENTLY.
I have been followed, harassed, groped, attacked and violated. By strangers. By men I know. By men I trusted implicitly.
I can go on and on with stories like these and I will because I DO MATTER. MY VOICE MATTERS AND IT WONT STOP.
I have stayed silent on this for far too long and now my body shakes in fury and my throat burns in admission as I take back my power.
This is only the beginning of what I have to say.
Stay with me.
It is vital.
My voice matters. It matters. I matter. Girls matter. Women’s lives are at stake and that MATTERS.
And it HAS TO STOP.
Embroidery by Shannon Downey
Courtesy of Shannon Downey / @badasscrossstitch