This was my first sexual experience: I was eleven. It was my first year in big school, in a technical drawing class. The teacher was out of the room. The Popular Boy groped me from behind while the rest of the class, girls and boys both, looked on and laughed. Through a fog of terror and utter humiliation, I managed to stab his arm with a pencil. It drew blood. As well as the shame of having been groped and laughed at, I was frightened all day that he would tell on me and I would get into trouble with the school authorities for having stabbed someone with a pencil. I guess I must have known on some level that being groped wouldn't be viewed as sufficient grounds for defending oneself violently.
Like other kids, I grew up being told about Stranger Danger and how if someone touches you in ways you aren't comfortable with, it is okay to tell on them. So, since I had been invaded and humiliated in a sexual, unwelcome, public, shaming manner, and since I was extremely upset, I tried to tell someone I trusted.
I got told to shut up and stop making such a fuss. Being molested is a normal part of growing up female, you know. So I shut up and absorbed that shame and embarrassment and knowledge that if you are molested, other people are going to laugh at you for objecting, and it is your own fault for being insufficiently invisible.
And it's only very very recently that I've realised that something doesn't have to be full-on rape to be Wrong, and it's okay to object to being groped, and if someone tells you to shut up, that's not because you suck, it's because they suck. Hear that? It may be normal to be molested, but that doesn't mean it's okay. It doesn't mean you have to shut up and stop making such a fuss. It's okay to want to be a human being, and to want to be treated as such.
Well, that's today's post. It doesn't have much to do with Torah. On the other hand, it has everything to do with Torah.
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PPS. Telling women that they should learn self-defence IS NOT the answer. That validates and reinforces the assumption that molestation is the norm, accepts that such is completely inevitable, and plants or strengthens the idea that someone who is attacked is somehow at fault for not having learned to defend herself. A woman shouldn't have to learn self-defence in order to avoid being molested.