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Jul 29 2007

Butt-swat Preservation Society goes to bat for jailed teen boys

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When superfluous quotation marks meet a public can of Austin: Hearts and Paws dog training facility, Leander TX.

I laughed the hollow, mirthless laugh of an obstreperally-blocked spinster aunt when I read this story about the two butt-slappin’ 7th-graders in McMinnville, Oregon whose ‘horseplay’ — that is, an avocation leading them to cavort through the halls spanking female students — has landed them in juvy, facing felony sex charges. The responsible adults in their lives are now scrambling to determine whether their actions were criminal or just a matter of boys-will-be-boys engaging in “a common form of greeting.”

I laughed because these boys are precisely the product of their culture. Do these outraged parents and attorneys and sociologists and radio jocks and sexperts really expect that boys will not initiate attempts to dominate girls as early in their lives as possible? Do they imagine that misogyny is a figment? Do they delude themselves that the attempt by these boys to join their elders in satisfying, lifetime careers of culturally-approved sex-based harassment was merely an anomaly, an aberration?

Apparently not everyone does. As the father of one of the jailed ‘McMinnville Two’ whined, “We’d all be in jail if everyone got arrested for this kind of stuff.” Too true, Mr. Redneck, too true. Everybody hates women; why, it would be insane to criminalize patriarchy. Which is essentially the argument in favor of defining the efforts of pubescent boys to forcibly dominate pubescent girls as ‘horseplay.’ How can it be antisocial when all of society condones it? Quoth a dudely editorialist in the Salem StatesmanJournal: “[T]o criminalize [...] brutish behavior is irrational and counterproductive.”

Blowhards variously use the words ‘irrational’ and ‘insane’ to describe this case, but what is really nuts is that anyone should expect anything but criminal behavior from kids raised to revere a culture of domination.

As usual, the real nub of the controversy, although nobody is acknowledging it, is not over whether a couple of 13-year-old boys facing 10 years in the hoosegow for butt-swatting is an “overreaction.” It’s whether female humans have a legal right to personal bodily sovereignty. Incredibly, in 2007, the jury’s still out on that one.

[Thanks, Lisa]

184 comments

1 ping

  1. delagar

    I thought ofyou the minute I read the father’s comment, as well as the comment of one of the other students — did you see that bit? They got some young woman student to claim that “we” all do it. Yes, clearly. Young women run through the hallways of that school slapping boys on the ass. I’m certain that is true.

    Guys used to run through the hallway of my junior high/high school (we were a combined building) when I did a brief stint in KS, grabbing our breasts. Did teachers stop them? Do anything? That’s funny!

    I tripped one, once, after he did this. He was running, remember. Fell flat on his face, his friends laughed at him, he came back to me, outraged, and, get this, wholly surprised. “Why did you do that?” he demanded.

    He really had no clue.

    Bet he doesn’t to this day.

    Bet these guys and their dads, and their mothers, still can’t see what’s wrong with slapping girls on the ass.

  2. Gayle

    The StatesmanJournal article compares this to the Duke Lacross case.

    After I picked my jaw up off the floor I pondered this comparison and found it telling. No one is saying the boys didn’t do it. Rather, they seem to be saying something along the lines of, “Everyone does it so it’s no big whoop.”

    So why the comparison? Is the writer arguing sexual harassment and rape cases shouldn’t be tried at all? Do we need four male eye- witnesses for the prosecution and a consensus the act in question is not commonplace to bring a case forward?

  3. Carol

    And if girls had done this, would all the dads be saying “girls will be girls”? I think not. Although, if it wouldn’t land the girls in a whole bunch of hot water , it would be an interesting experiment to see who got the harsher treatment, both socially and legally. Or do we need to bother with the experiment?

  4. delphyne

    I would guess that every man who is defending these boys will have behaved in the exact same way towards girls when he was a schoolboy, and every single woman who is defending them will have had similar things done to her and learned to pretend it didn’t matter because nobody with any power would provide her with protection.

    Are there any women who escaped the experience of being groped at school? I’m imagining that the only way to escape the barrage of sexual assault would be to attend an all-girls school.

  5. pippa

    oh I had a similar opstreporal lobe burstage when my nephew kept exposing himself to my daughter. He wagged his penis at her, touched her with it, fake masturbated and eventually peed all over anything that moved. When I got “all stroppy and feminist” about it, I was told by my sister in law that this was normal behaviour among pre-pubescent boy children. Normal it may well be, but it shouldn’t be. Where my sister in law saw a healthy expression of gender difference and exploration of body parts, I saw sexual aggression and dominating behaviour. I stood my ground. I did not allow it to continue. Normalizing this kind of behaviour is how we keep our girl children (and to a lesser extent our boys) trapped in patriarchal limbo.

  6. Cass

    Even in this society, pippa, that ain’t normal. There’s something else going on with that boy.

  7. Melissa

    Pippa, that behaviour is way outside “normal” in any society. He should be put under watch, and any adult caretakers around him as well. Right now being prepubescent he can get away with it, I expect by the time he’s 20 he’ll be in some jail for a good part of his adult life. Probably by 15 if he’s black.

  8. Lauredhel

    How old is the nephew? When you were describing the behaviour, my immediate thought was ‘Mm, sounds like a two-year-old in need of some guidance’. Then you said he was pre-pubescent, and my mind switched to an image of an 11-year-old rapist-in-training.

  9. Patti

    pippa, that’s scary – he’s too old to do things like that benignly. Yes, a two-year-old might do that just exploring his body, and need correction that it isn’t acceptable. But at 11, that’s aggression. Whatever she says, it’s NOT normal behavior amongst boys that age.

  10. delphyne

    I agree with what everybody else has said Pippa, and also want to cheer you on for standing up for your daughter and protecting her. The betrayal of adults who allow children to be mistreated in small ways or large ways is something that never leaves any of us that it has happened to (which is probably most of us).

  11. Shira

    Oy. I spent two years in a Christian middle school, and one of the boys’ favorite hobbies was to run through the hall grabbing the asses of the girls (who later told me, when I objected, “But you don’t even LIKE him,” that “I don’t mind it, and they like doing it, so what’s the big deal?” Eventually, one of them was emboldened by their lax attitude to try that shit with me – turning around in class, rubbing his inner thigh, and asking, “Want some of this?” (I don’t think he was quite clear on the concept – his hand was nowhere near his genitals).

    I was too humiliated and shocked that the teacher, as usual, refused to do anything to stop this behavior, to respond until after class had ended, at which point I went up to the boy, grabbed him by the shirt, and told him, “Don’t you EVER do anything like that to me again!” He apologized, but later spread the rumor that I’d been expelled. I’m sure by now he’s graduated to the more violent and despicable forms of patriarchal domination.

    I can’t say I ever personally witnessed this behavior in public high school, although I did witness a group of boys throwing rocks at a friend of mine, who begged me not to report it on the logic that, if she ignores them, they’ll stop (how much internalized responsibility for men’s violence must she have had to believe that she was causing their behavior by not “ignoring them” enough as she sat by herself reading a damn book? The mind boggles). Thankfully, the administrator (a dude! Maybe there is hope!) I reported this to immediately believed us, and camped out in a nearby building to catch them in the act, before promptly suspending/expelling the lot of them.

  12. pisaquari

    Hmm. Likely these p-infected tots have been wanking it to “XXXYourMomSpanked!.mpeg” for a few years now.

    Pray tell there comes a day when cookie and temp files are public knowledge. Patriarchy-avoidance would be so much easier.

  13. kate

    Pippa, I agree with others here, the boy’s behavior is far from normal and more than likely an indicator of behavior learned from someone older. Question is, what else has he been taught and who will bother to find out? And kudos for you for standing up for your daughter and to his possibly in denial mother.

    I don’t recall being groped in school by other boys, I was the outcast, nerdy shy girl. I was harassed, but not sexually. Sexual harassment I recall came from pedophiliac teachers, not fellow students.

    Carol the punishment dished out to girls who would dare to sexually harass boys, or display any sexually positive or aggressive attitude/behavior at all is the humiliation of being labeled a slut.

    This would qualify them for social ostracization by their peers and boys, save for possibly more humiliation of the sexual kind. Of course, standing up to the assaults would also mean possibly mean social rejection or revulsion as well.

    Since humans fear social rejection most, girls have little choice, or so they have in the past, but to take it and shut up.

  14. Carol

    Kate, when I was in high school a couple of boys tried to “initiate” me when I was in grade 10. The usual crap, shaving cream int he hair, lipstick smeared on glasses. I grabbed the stuff away from them, it them with it and reported them. They got suspended. I was not labelled a slut. Of course, the way I responded wasn’t overtly sexual either.They DID stop trying to mess with me. But, if enough girls behaved in a sexually dominant fashion, then the term “slut” would lose it’s sting. It would become just another word. Of course it would be nice if girls stopped caring about the term and just went on their merry way. Too bad it’s not going to happen.

  15. Chris P.

    Wow, I figured that was something unique to my old junior high.

    At my middle school, out in the sticks, the guys came up with a game they called “The Game.” (Original, I know.) Basically, you played the game by grabbing girls when they didn’t expect it, such as when they were at the water fountain, or at lunch, or when they were coming out of the bathroom, or, really, any time. Points were awarded for body part groped (1 point for ass, 5 points for boobies), with extra points awarded for originality or an especially hard slap on the butt. It lasted for, as I remember, the whole of the school year, and nobody ever put a stop to it.

    As much as I hate to admit it, I scored one point that year, because, well, closet-case trying to look straight. I blame the patriarchy, and lax teacher supervision.

  16. balabusta

    I endured this kind of harassment, also in middle school. The boy who groped girls (there was only one, as far as I knew) got away with it because we were embarassed and didn’t tell on him. When one girl mentioned it in a group and we realized he was doing it to all of us, we started to yell “stop that!” at him, and he did stop. We needed adults to do something, though.

    The problem with sending kids to jail for this kind of harassment is that it’s going to stop girls from speaking up to teachers. Adults have to stop this shit much sooner, before it gets to the point of assault. Don’t students who hit other students go to detention first? The story said that the cops did hours of interviews. There were hours of interviews? That must mean this went on for awhile! Calling in the cops and coming down like a ton of bricks–in some ways, that’s too little, too late. The first time it happened a teacher should have been on it, taking names, calling parents, being pre-emptive.

  17. Red Robin

    I’d be fine with life imprisonment. These are clearly future rapists, so why give them a chance? If parents don’t like that, they can raise their children to be not-rapists. Simple.

  18. delagar

    At the school I was in, in Kansas, the girls reinforced the male behavior — calling other girls heifers, ganging up on girls who didn’t fit the (patriarchal-approved) norm — that sort of thing. I was outside of the “set,” since I came in from New Orleans at age 12 and left at 14, and never really learned the rules (I felt like an anthropologist from Mars, let me tell you, they kept trying to get me to act right, I couldn’t even see the signals, ai), but I recall being confused by it: why go along with something that clearly doesn’t benefit you?

    It took me a long time to see how it might benefit some of them; or how it might look like it benefited some of them — that this might be enough to get most of them to play. Like the lottery! Or capitalism!

    In New Orleans, to whic I returned when I was 14, I attended an all-girls school. Now that’s a planet of its own.

  19. Catherine D.

    Stories like this one just make me want to get out the tree loppers and start gelding.

    Guess I was lucky, because nothing like this ever happened to me at any time in school. Of course, I had the advantage of skipping lotsa grades and therefore needed to learn alpha bitch skills really early. (And I’d publicly demonstrated those skills once when a nasty little pest was teasing my eczema-covered younger sister. I grabbed his arms, swung him around my head several times and let him go. He never bothered either of us again.)

  20. marzipan

    The ass-grabbing-in-school thing happened to me (and many others, surely) from 2nd grade all the way through high school. It took me a few years to tell anyone because I was embarrassed and didn’t want to draw attention to it. Plus, I didn’t want to get anyone in trouble and then have that to deal with. The guys who did it (many different guys through the years) weren’t otherwise mean to me, so I just kept it to myself till one day I spilled why I didn’t want to go to school. This was 5th grade. The advice I got was to smack in the face any guy who touched me like that and “he’ll never do it again.” I took the advice, and it worked with that guy. Doesn’t really address the problem, though. I’d have to have smacked a lot of guys all the time all through school, and I just didn’t have it in me.

    I don’t know the answer, though. How do we impress on kids that this behavior isn’t okay? 10 years institutionalized probably won’t help anyone. And, what should a young girl do when this happens? Isn’t there something between taking it quietly and getting the ass-grabbers locked up? School counselling? Parental involvement? Sensitivity classes? Like I said, I don’t know the answer(s).

  21. Octogalore

    “And, what should a young girl do when this happens? Isn’t there something between taking it quietly and getting the ass-grabbers locked up? School counselling? Parental involvement? Sensitivity classes? Like I said, I don’t know the answer(s).”

    Maybe it falls to the parents and schools. I agree with posters above that girls do not greet boys this way. So parents of daughters need to make sure girls do not accept this behavior, and report it immediately. I agree with you that giving the advice to smack the boy, while it may actually work if done, may be too intimidating. But if even some of the parents caution daughters to report the behavior to the school, and then check with the school to make sure it’s being handled, maybe that’s a good first step.

  22. Carebear

    It’s interesting that they’ll punish these boys for their behaviour but they never punish adult men. Shouldn’t the adults get it worse?

    Sending kids to jail doesn’t teach them how to respect people. They’ll probably learn even worse behaviours.

  23. marzipan

    “But if even some of the parents caution daughters to report the behavior to the school, and then check with the school to make sure it’s being handled, maybe that’s a good first step.”

    I agree. How do we get them to feel comfortable reporting it? I’d like to suppose things are a little more open now between parents, kids and teachers than they were in the 70s and 80s, but I would guess that so much of this goes unmentioned because bringing it to light is so daunting. And we’re just talking about ass-grabbing.

  24. Patti

    The school has to take it seriously. If the school doesn’t take it seriously, the child will never feel comfortable reporting it, and shouldn’t. Schools can also be proactive about it. There are curriculum units about bullying that are available to them. They just need to decide addressing it is a priority, and take the time to implement the program, and to make sure everyone understands the school culture is officially intolerant of that kind of behavior.

  25. yankee transplant

    So I talked to all three of my teenage girls about this, pointing out to them that many people, and not just dudely assholes, think this is “no big deal.” The two that have been with me their whole lives were horrified at the thought that some people think this is ok. The one that I got as an 18-year old shrugged. It kills me that girls are conditioned to think this behavior is acceptable or even nothing that deserves their fury.

  26. Miller

    I saw the AP video for that story. The whole point of view was from the boys; no mention of the girls who were singled-out for assault solely on the basis of gender. Again, this is the damn AP. Objectivity is supposed to be the goal of reporting, not advocacy. The boys cried about how horribly unjust this was as they were the true victims. All bigots have to do is coat their hate in sexuality and it is immediately deemed acceptable, if not ideal. The story itself was filed under “offbeat.”

    On where the boys get this idea from: I just finished reading this post at ThinkProgress (a website of the “liberal” Center for Progress) and it was whether dogfighting was worse than rape. Overwhelmingly, the men posted that the former was worse, much worse because dogs die while women and girls live on (9/10 rape victims are female). I have never, not once, read a post where atrocities committed upon human beings (not involving murder) was ever compared, let alone considered the lesser offense, than anti-female violence (e.g., Imagine comparing the beatings and amputation of arms of all blacks or Jews versus dogfighting.). When ever a woman dared question the bigots, they accused her of bigotry (she must belong “man-hating club”). God, help me.

    I remember there was a conversation a few days ago here about how misogyny is so blatant that women and girls will “wake up.” As a young woman myself I can honestly say that is dead wrong. I remember when Eminem first came out (I was a teen). I was shocked when I finally heard his CD and realized this is what the critics were raving about: mass rape, torture, and brutal killings of countless women and girls. That was the “humor.” Worse, my friends (of the strong, independent variety) thought he was “mischievous.” Not only didn’t I oppose them, but I totally doubted myself, “What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I get it?” Today, little tween girls have his posters on their wall and he’s been branded the “voice” of my generation.

  27. Miller

    My apologies:

    In my second paragraph, the third sentence should finish: I have never, not once, read a post where atrocities committed upon human beings (not involving murder) was ever compared, let alone considered the lesser offense, than DOGFIGHTING.

    Again, sorry.

  28. Marytracy9

    Well done, Twisty, and welcome back. We missed you.

    (I can’t really comment on anything, because if I did it would be something like “I am so happy to be reading this stuff!”. Purely because of sheer happiness at finding this blog and people who can see Twisty’s point. Once the excitement wears out, I’ll go into full patriarchy-blaming state.)

  29. Funambulator

    In my school, it was snapping the bra straps. Delightful!

  30. marzipan

    “In my school, it was snapping the bra straps. Delightful!”

    The popular-and-mean girls did that at my school.

  31. TinaH

    Also note that parents of boys need to explain in no uncertain terms that ass slapping, bra snapping (which we had in my schools like the plague) name calling, breast grabbing and the rest of that patriarchal horseshit is completely and totally unacceptable. Nigel Jr ever pulls that crap and I’ll – well, I don’t know what I’ll do but my first instinct will not be pretty.

    IBTFB.

  32. Megan

    ‘And if girls had done this, would all the dads be saying “girls will be girls”?’

    Nope. If girls had done this it would barely be remarked because the oppressed can’t really achieve harassment of the oppressor. No one would feel threatened or dirty or used or powerless. The boys would probably smirk about it in the same way grown men approve of the dominatrix role or husbands joke that their wives rule the household. It’s cute/hot when women behave in male-aping powerful ways since everyone knows that they don’t really have the power.

    The equivalent behaviour with a gender reversal would be if someone who actually had power in the social system (more power than a prepubescent boy, anyway) – say an adult female teacher were to make sexually explicit remarks to the boys or slap them on the ass. I’m guessing the general public would be rightly nauseated over that and no one would be crying about overreactions if that teacher got jail time.

  33. Twisty

    Nice blamin’, Megan.

  34. Daisy

    Thank you everyone for sharing your experiences. It is still amazing to me when I read about how this wasn’t just me. And you know what, I’m still angry. Fuck Chris Carey for slapping my butt after a Student Council meeting in the ninth grade. Fuck that. I’m not okay with it.

  35. Shell Goddamnit

    I told this story not so long ago for some reason, and it really brought up a lot of anger that I would have thought would be gone after 35 fucking years. I am surprised at how angry I *still* am.

    We had a little band of boys in my rural junior high who did the body-parts grabbing thing – en masse, the chickenshits. Five-on-one. In my case they tried to get a hand IN MY GODDAMN JEANS while I was sitting in class. Let me repeat that: WHILE I WAS SITTING IN CLASS. With a teacher at the front of the classroom. I assumed a sitting fetal position and kept them from achieving their aim, but the (male)teacher never said one thing – to me, or to them, or to the administration. I wonder if he would have said or done anything if they had dragged me into the coatroom, or the hallway. I honestly doubt it.

    That school was disfunctional in a billion ways, but that incident was so far beyond even the previous stupidities I’d dealt with that I am still amazed and appalled.

  36. de Selby

    I take it that there’s consensus here that ten years in prison is an appropriate societal response to thirteen-year-olds seeking to discover (and thereby transgressing) the limits of society’s norms.

    Respectfully, I disagree.

    They are children. They should be punished, and taught why their actions are unacceptable. They should not be fed to America’s “Criminal Justice System”, which is little more than a college for anti-social behavior.

    If you think they’re dangerous at 13, playing slapass in the halls of the junior high, wait till you meet them on the street when they get out of detention at 21.

  37. Shell Goddamnit

    Oh yeah, and another thing – where are the goddamn fundy purity police when you need them? You’d think they’d be raising a hell of a ruckus over this butt-touching bullshit. Oh right, but it’s HITTING – and that’s okay, I guess.

  38. Shell Goddamnit

    Hey de Selby – no, there’s no such consensus. Some posters have said that this is too much punishment far too long after the situation should have been dealt with. However, most of us are focusing – appalling, I know – on SOMETHING OTHER THAN THE BOYS. Plenty of places where you can wail “but what about the men??!” It’s not the main course here.

    And your “limits” and “playing slapass” attempts to make this incident into nothing much are offensive. The purpose of girls’ existence is not as objects to be used and acted on by boys, to be used to define limits or as toys or anything else.

  39. Pooch

    As usual, the real nub of the controversy, although nobody is acknowledging it, is not over whether a couple of 13-year-old boys facing 10 years in the hoosegow for butt-swatting is an “overreaction.” It’s whether female humans have a legal right to personal bodily sovereignty. Incredibly, in 2007, the jury’s still out on that one.

    Since I live near McMinnville, I’ve followed this story since the beginning, and I can testify that the local news coverage has completely missed the point as you describe. I’ve seen so many pictures of the “poor boys” and their houses and their moms and their dads and their siblings that I could forcibly vomit all over the next “boys will be boys” letter to the editor in the Oregonian.

  40. S. D'Attournee-Lawson

    As it is, co-ed junior high school is hell, junior high school is hell, school is hell.

  41. de Selby

    However, most of us are focusing – appalling, I know – on SOMETHING OTHER THAN THE BOYS. Plenty of places where you can wail “but what about the men??!” It’s not the main course here.

    I think you’re missing my point. It’s not the boys that I care about. It is civil society. Our growing willingness to punish children as adults is an indicator of our failure to create a properly functioning culture, and it is destructive toward that goal. It is my sense that legitimizing the projection of the sins of adults upon the kids can only exacerbate the pathologies of our society.

    And your “limits” and “playing slapass” attempts to make this incident into nothing much are offensive. The purpose of girls’ existence is not as objects to be used and acted on by boys, to be used to define limits or as toys or anything else.

    “Playing slapass” was an infelicitous turn of phrase. I should not have used it, because it is, indeed, weighty with gender assumption.

    As to “limits”, thirteen year-old boys, and girls too, “use” anyone and everything in their orbits as “objects to be acted on” in testing the circumscription of their actions in society. They are obnoxiously immature. Boys are especially difficult, and it’s true that they require more constraints on their behavior than girls. It is also true that they are often failed by us, as adults, in that regard.

    The incident(s) that Twisty describes, and our responses to them, are of the kind that will define our society’s “limits” in the future. Now here’s where we may part – it is my position that if the misbehavior is treated as obnoxious and unacceptable toward people, we take a step toward building a common civilized respect toward one another. If they are viewed as an outrage against the little helpless women, we perpetuate the patronization of patriarchy.

    If you wish to carve out a unique “Personal bodily sovereignty” for females, you should consider the implications carefully.

  42. Shira

    *Microwaves popcorn; pulls up chair*

  43. Lisa

    I think that there are many, many problems with juvenile justice (and justice/penal system in general). But if you are going to say “Don’t throw these boys into it because the juvie system sucks,” fine. Then you need to say that about any juvenile who commits any crime in the juvie system. That is an issue with what we do with juvenile offenders as a whole, not whether this particular behavior is a crime or not. This behavior is a crime. Now, I wouldn’t totally rule out an in school/in family approach on a first offense, one-time incident scenerio if all parties agreed to it and there was some form of restorative justice involved. Fine. But the issue in this case is whether a recurring behavior, that is a crime among adults, should be treated as a crime among kids. And I say, yes. What is to be done in response to that crime is another matter entirely that affects all of juvie justice as a whole.

    For example, if a kid steals a pencil, stealing is a crime. Perhaps that can be handled in house and the kid can just apologize and buy another pencil for the ‘victim.’ But if a student goes around stealing all the student’s lunches, books, shoes and jewelry repeatedly and no one makes any effort to stop it because it is just what kids do, well then you have a problem that is going to lead to bigger problems. The sexual harassment of these boys is even worse because it is a crime against one’s own person. This ‘boys will be boys’ crap is just a way to perpetuate the power of men to use women as objects. Not to mention teaching girls that they have no right to bodily integrity.

    Okay, here is my little school harrassment story. (I actually have more than one, but this one is the worst.) In the second grade, I was in line outside during a fire drill. The boy behind me, who I think was a couple of years older (say 9?) repeatedly reached his hands in my shorts and into my underwear and around my vulva and almost into my vagina. Then (TMI warning) he showed the other boys his fingers that had some vaginal mucus on them. Mortifying.

    But then it gets weirder. I did tell my mother, and she said that she was going to talk to the teacher about it. I said that I would be really embarrassed that she did that, so she didn’t do anything about it. I know that at the time she was trying to do what was best for me. But now I can’t imagine having that happen to one of my kids and basically shrug it off. I think she knew that absolutely nothing would happen if she talk to the school so why put us through that. Sad. A great lesson for me at age 7 about how I don’t matter for shit as a girl.

    As for the boy, don’t know what became of him. Wonder if there were future victims of more severe crimes, though.

  44. Whoknows

    Hands Shira the salt.

  45. Octogalore

    Marzipan: I agree. How do we get them to feel comfortable reporting it?”

    yankee transplant: “So I talked to all three of my teenage girls about this, pointing out to them that many people, and not just dudely assholes, think this is “no big deal.” The two that have been with me their whole lives were horrified at the thought that some people think this is ok. The one that I got as an 18-year old shrugged. It kills me that girls are conditioned to think this behavior is acceptable or even nothing that deserves their fury.”

    I think yankee has it right on. It’s critical to drill down very early on the fact that things may seem a certain way on the surface, but here’s the history of where we’re coming from, and here’s what to look out for and nip in the bud. I have a three year old and so this hasn’t been relevant yet (who knows, maybe soon!). But we’ve been talking about how to raise consciousness without making her paranoid. That’s a fine balance and I’m not sure how to do it.

    I do think that “take it as it comes” won’t work. This discussion brought back for me the time when a rude seventh-grader grabbed my breast at the YMCA. I was taller and pushed him away and it didn’t reoccur, but it didn’t really hit me at the time how odd it was that this would happen to a girl, but that I or my friends would never do the equivalent to him. I don’t know what I would’ve done differently in that instance, since it didn’t reoccur, but I think it would have been helpful to have some tools for how to think about it — in case it did. And of course, in other ways, it absolutely did.

  46. Sharon

    Reading this story made me furious. Reading the comments reminded me of a similar problem my daughter had in the 8th grade. A boy in her class who sat behind her kept attempting to grab her breasts. She complained to the teacher (female), who did nothing. Finally the next time the boy tried it, my daughter picked up a metal ruler and turned around and whacked the hell out of him, upside his head! (Her momma done raised her right…)

    The teacher sent my daughter to the Principal’s office. Not the boy…my daughter.

    The Principal (female) called me at home, and told me that no, my daughter would not be punished, yes, the boy would be, and then said (off the record) that she wished more girls would do what my daughter had done.

    Mind you, this was in the great, backwards State of Texas! And this was in 1993…so maybe there IS hope…someday…

  47. Shell Goddamnit

    “As to “limits”, thirteen year-old boys, and girls too, “use” anyone and everything in their orbits as “objects to be acted on” in testing the circumscription of their actions in society. They are obnoxiously immature. Boys are especially difficult, and it’s true that they require more constraints on their behavior than girls. It is also true that they are often failed by us, as adults, in that regard.”

    So do thirteen-year-old girls normally “use” people as objects to be acted on by actually violating the personal bodily soveriegnty of those people? Are they routinely excused such violations by reference to those limit-testings? You do see that the problem is not just boys being obnoxious by nature, on which I am not expressing an opinion by the way, but that they often are expected and allowed or at least excused for being *physically* obnoxious so long of course as it’s girls to whom they’re being obnoxious.

    I mean – do you expect that a band of 13-yr-old boys who went around popping other boys in the mouth would be described as “testing limits” and “playing smashmouth?” No, they’d be described as thugs and suspended, and not after months of misbehavior, either.

    “The incident(s) that Twisty describes, and our responses to them, are of the kind that will define our society’s “limits” in the future. Now here’s where we may part – it is my position that if the misbehavior is treated as obnoxious and unacceptable toward people, we take a step toward building a common civilized respect toward one another. If they are viewed as an outrage against the little helpless women, we perpetuate the patronization of patriarchy.

    If you wish to carve out a unique “Personal bodily sovereignty” for females, you should consider the implications carefully.”

    I do not see where the misbehavior is NOT treated as obnoxious and unacceptable toward “people” as opposed to women, and I have no idea why you would think that we’d part ways there. I believe in fact that most folks here are ARGUING that we should treat the behavior as obnoxious and unacceptable towards “people,” since girls are after all people. And by the way, that stupid thing where treating victims as if they were actually victims somehow makes them into victims is just a bait&switch. “Oh well! I don’t want to be treated like a little helpless woman! So it’s okay for girls to be used in limits-setting ‘play.’”

    I do agree that we are punishing children as adults far too often. It seems bizarre to me that this case is one of them, to be honest – perhaps there is a fundy purity policeman involved here after all.

  48. Professor Zero

    Great post – and this is a good point:

    “The problem with sending kids to jail for this kind of harassment is that it’s going to stop girls from speaking up to teachers. Adults have to stop this shit much sooner, before it gets to the point of assault. Don’t students who hit other students go to detention first? The story said that the cops did hours of interviews. There were hours of interviews? That must mean this went on for awhile! Calling in the cops and coming down like a ton of bricks–in some ways, that’s too little, too late. The first time it happened a teacher should have been on it, taking names, calling parents, being pre-emptive.”

    Adults in and around my school said this kind of behavior was normal and girls had to get used to it. I slugged a boy out for it and neither he nor anyone understood why, although I explained. They found the explanation irrational and decided I must be having hormonal problems myself.

  49. Scratchy888

    When I was at school in Zimbabwe, the black girls hazed us one day by grabbing our nipples as we (white girls) walked through the school corridor.

  50. de Selby

    Shell Goddamnit -

    I think we’re actually closing in on partial agreement.

    So do thirteen-year-old girls normally “use” people as objects to be acted on by actually violating the personal bodily soveriegnty of those people?

    No, 13-year-old girls don’t normally do such things. 13-year-old boys do, and I’m pretty sure that it’s at least partly because they are encouraged to do so. We should just stop that, agreed? I don’t excuse boys for their violations of personal sovereignty, but I can assure you that they are not limited to male-on-female crimes. I think you would be surprised at how often 13-y-o boys get their mouths smashed, and their asses slapped. I’m perfectly serious. Yet I’m also of a mind to view overtly sexual aggression as a worse crime than mere violence. Is that because I’m a patronizing patriarch? I don’t think so. I think it’s a matter of the strong vs the weak, and sex is an exceptionally vulnerable target.

    I do not see where the misbehavior is NOT treated as obnoxious and unacceptable toward “people” as opposed to women, and I have no idea why you would think that we’d part ways there. I believe in fact that most folks here are ARGUING that we should treat the behavior as obnoxious and unacceptable towards “people,” since girls are after all people.

    Fair enough. I erred in implying a monopoly on this attitude.

    And by the way, that stupid thing where treating victims as if they were actually victims somehow makes them into victims is just a bait&switch. “Oh well! I don’t want to be treated like a little helpless woman! So it’s okay for girls to be used in limits-setting ‘play.’”

    I never told you what stance to take on this issue. I merely suggested you consider the implications. Bear in mind that the implications will become manifest within the existing Patriarchy. Not fair, I know.

  51. claudelemonde

    my 54yo mother, who is the head secretary at the elementary school i attended as a mini-blamer, was slapped on the ass this spring by a kindergartener who was four. she spoke to his parents who spoke to him, but they seemed more concerned about the violence of it (slapping) than the sexual/female-body-as-public-domain issue.

  52. Urban

    de Selby: “If you wish to carve out a unique “Personal bodily sovereignty” for females, you should consider the implications carefully.”

    I don’t think this is what anyone here is suggesting. Everyone has the (moral*) right to personal bodily sovereignty. Women are people, therefore they have that right just as much as men: there’s nothing ‘unique’ about the right being claimed by women. Nobody’s carving out anything, because it already exists (morally*).

    The point is that despite the moral power of this universal right to personal bodily sovereignty, where women are concerned, society doesn’t recognise, apply, or enforce this right equally for women and men.

    *I’m saying ‘morally’ to avoid confusion regarding the nature of ‘rights’ as I’m using the word here, and to distinguish them from legal rights. Of course in some countries, women don’t even have the legal right to personal bodily sovereignty.

  53. kiki

    I don’t excuse boys for their violations of personal sovereignty, but I can assure you that they are not limited to male-on-female crimes. I think you would be surprised at how often 13-y-o boys get their mouths smashed, and their asses slapped.

    Yes, but as others have pointed out smashing other boys in the mouth is considered unacceptable and can lead to expulsion, while sexualized violence against girls is seen as a natural part of growing up and is ignored (or even encouraged) by adults.

  54. de Selby

    The point is that despite the moral power of this universal right to personal bodily sovereignty, where women are concerned, society doesn’t recognise, apply, or enforce this right equally for women and men.

    That’s absolutely true, and it’s the tricky conundrum I’ve wanted to engage.

    I haven’t done a fine job so far, so maybe (certainly) I should give it up.

    Fun, though, I must say.

    Cheers, all,
    de Selby

  55. Urban

    Oh dear. Scratch ‘even’ from my last sentence in the comment above.

    Additionally I want to say that while I don’t recall any physical acts of the appalling nature described in this article (and blamers’ personal stories) happening in my mixed primary school, there were definitely verbal incidents of the “Hey, baby, come over here and sit on my lap!” variety.

    I went to all-girls schools from the age of 11 and though this environment is not without its difficulties, it was very refreshing not to have to deal with the boys on a daily basis. I cannot exaggerate the difference it made.

  56. de Selby

    Yes, but as others have pointed out smashing other boys in the mouth is considered unacceptable and can lead to expulsion, while sexualized violence against girls is seen as a natural part of growing up and is ignored (or even encouraged) by adults.

    Pardon me for saying this so bluntly, but bullshit.

    Smashing other boys in the mouth is required.

    Misogyny is merely encouraged.

  57. Cara-he

    de Selby, I’m afraid (and by “afraid” I mean that “I am terribly pleased to do so”) that I must now call bullshit on YOU. I, as so many other women here were, was harassed in most of the ways listed, and a few more. By sixth grade I figured out that I did in fact own my body, and I began to respond when boys PHYSICALLY ASSAULTED MY PERSON. I yelled STOP!, and if (and by “if” I mean “when”) I followed by smacking the boy in question back. On the face. This resulted in the my repeated suspension, because remarkably, none of the teachers or other male students witnessed the provocation. After I explained, to my MALE teachers and MALE principal, they responded that I should not have let the boy provoke me – i.e., they believed what the boy did, but felt that my response was the ACTUAL wrong.

    And guess what? It is INCREDIBLY disrespectful of any man to come to a feminist forum and say “Misogyny is merely encouraged”

    Misogyny is the foundation upon which every privelage of yours is built. Which is why we blame the patriarchy.

  58. Cara-he

    The third sentence down should read “when they continued to harass/abuse me, I followed up by smacking them.

    Forgot to mention – not one of those boys was ever even reprimanded for abusing me.

    Should not post when infuriated.

  59. Urban

    It is INCREDIBLY disrespectful of any man to come to a feminist forum and say “Misogyny is merely encouraged”

    Yes, I had that reaction to the statement too.

    Plus, my hackles were raised by what I see as the patronising tone contained in this statement made by de Selby:
    “…you should consider the implications carefully.”

  60. de Selby

    “Misogyny is merely encouraged” was intended as an ironic bit of jest, because I know it’s so true.

    If I admit that you’ve whupped my Patriarchal carcass, does it make it less likely that Junior High girls will get their asses slapped?

    I’m deadly serious about this, because my third daughter starts Junior High this fall.

    Am I to understand that I’m to stay strictly away from her experience? That I am of no use in this context?

  61. zora

    In my primary school we had “skirt raising” and sort of general groping, but we (the girls) fought back. sometimes vehemently. the adults (teachers, parents, etc.) saw the whole thing as “kids will be kids”. the boys were reprimanded for their behaviour, but it was allowed to continue and when they got beaten up for it by girls, they were either too embarrassed to complain or if they did complain, they were usually told they deserved it. On the other hand, when girls complained they were told that this was a peculiar little boys’ way of saying that they liked you.
    This is where it gets a bit complicated.
    As much as boys scored points by “number of skirts raised”, girls started keeping count of “number of boys to raise skirt” (i.e. “number of boys that actually like me”) not withholding the beatings, though. I think this is where the concept of “no really means yes” gets introduced, which is probably the most dangerous consequence. And I can’t exonerate myself completely, because, well, even though I never really felt “safe” at school, even though I was always on my guard, and I fought back, I still made sure I wore pretty knickers.

    The thing is, though, there were limits. If a girl ended up crying, it was stopped – and not by adults, but by the kids themselves. No matter how cool you were, you could not get away with being mean. Sorry for the rambling on, but my point is that despite punishments, teachers’, parents’ interventions, nothing made an impression on these boys as much as other kids making it clear their behaviour was not acceptable. And that’s what’s missing in this story (or perhaps I don’t know the whole story). What was the rest of the school doing? Were the girls completely passive? Were there no other boys to stand up to the bum-smackers?

  62. octopod

    Cara-he: I’m not sure what exactly was so different about my social context, but I remember a few (that is, two) incidents similar to the ones you narrate which came out rather differently. That is, some boy perved on me, I socked him, HE went to the authorities, and HE got in trouble ’cause I was a “good kid” and so he must have provoked me for something like that to have happened.

    I, of course, have no explanation — only anecdotes. Reading this thread, though, is making me want to go kneecap some creepy dudes and then hug my thus-far-uncorrupted little brother for being a cool kid.

  63. tinfoil hattie

    de Selby –

    Start by not defining your daughter’s experience before it happens, and start by not deciding issues of “personal sovreignty” for girls and women. Above all, quit arguing semantics and philosophy as though this scenario had occurred lo those many years in the past and we are all curious anthropologists theorizing about it. (Whew! mixing my metaphors today; trying not to short-circuit my keyboard with blamer-induced outrage-spittle, so please forgive me.)

    If you want to effectively parent your daughter through the hell that is about to begin for her (actually, if you could encourage her to talk about it, and she felt safe and not too patriarch-ly shamed, the hell that has already begun for her and girls her age), I invite you to meet your daugher where she is.

    If indeed you are a man, you have no idea. Absolutely none. You have not been shamed, ridiculed, harassed, and physically assaulted for the crime of having a vagina and breasts and 2 x chromosomes and whatever else deems one fodder for abuse by the patriarchy. You have not had your body made public property by strangers. You have not had to sit by in scarlet, silent shame while classmates used your body — with impunity! — as a sexual assault training ground. You have not had to suffer the uneasy and confusing shame (ha! there’s that word again!) when grown men, some even the fathers of your friends, leered at your early pubescent body.

    If indeed you are a woman, tell me how you escaped all this thus far, because I believe you alone may hold the key to the secrets of the universe.

  64. Miller

    Question: Do you think if the boys went around smacking puppies that there would’ve been outrage? Sadly, I can’t help but think there would be. There would be soul-searching in the community: Where did they learn that abusing defenseless animals was acceptable? The boys would be shunned and likely evaluated by psychologists.

    On the issue of schools being used to condition acceptance of rape culture: In just 10 years the problem has gotten radically worse. I remember hearing a man who normally enjoyed the genre of rape “humor” complaining about teen boys today whose “sense of fun” he felt was exponentially more hateful and violent than what he heard during his *Coast Guard* days. He said it was enough to make him “blush.” I honestly tremble in fear for today’s girls. I can only imagine how bad it will be when these boys assume the mantle of social, economic, and political power in the decades to come.

  65. tinfoil hattie

    Interesting how your acquaintance is shocked, shocked, to find that enjoying rape “humor” has evolved into even more violent hatred toward women.

    Where would we be had that man, and all others like him, been called out and taken to task for making/appreciating rape “jokes”?

  66. dr.sue

    In my junior high boys would “accidentally” bump up against girls coming around corners, to get a “free feel” of their breasts, and then laugh loudly with their buddies about it. Girls talked openly about this among ourselves, and passed on warnings about prime offenders and ways to protect ourselves. We didn’t think to tell adults about it or to push back. In retrospect, I think there were two reasons for this: 1) We experienced this harassment as just another facet of the facet of the fascistic school environment, in which our bodies were not considered to belong to us (the need for a hall pass to go to the bathroom; the requirement to prove we were menstruating to get out of swimming class; etc.); the boys were merely junior enforcers; and 2) When I would proactively hug my books to my chest as I turned a corner, the “popular” boys would jeer and snicker, making cracks about how I flattered myself by assuming that anyone would want to touch me (not in that language). This was something I didn’t talk about with my friends, because I assumed I was the only one–that they were all “worthy” of this attention, and I was ashamed. So as horrible and invasive as it was to be touched that way, calling them on it would have been unthinkable, as they would have turned it around to a critical evaluation of our desirableness–and we’d already learned that our worth depended on pleasing the male gaze.

    I have wondered whether this institutional overreaction to disgusting behavior that could be addressed more effectively by concerted efforts by parents and administrators isn’t itself a way to discourage girls from speaking up. There, little missy! You are responsible for ruining an innocent boy’s life! Are you satisfied now?

  67. Miller

    dr. sue,

    Your comment about how gender harassment and assault is perverted to be synonymous with positive attention one has to be “worthy” of is so disturbingly true. I remember questioning my own sanity as a new middle schooler when girls were being harassed and I wasn’t. I didn’t want to be groped–at all–but I didn’t want to be considered unattractive either. Quickly enough, an older boy (a stranger) groped my pre-pubescent breast at age 11. I decided right then and there I’d rather be considered ugly if just to protect myself, which of course, ingrained the assumption that women and girls’ attractiveness was to blame (Yes, we are the evil responsible for male heterosexuality).

    Even then we learned this twisting of love and hate. All harassment is meant to intimidate, but there were boys who honestly liked some of these girls and thought it was a way to tell them so without losing face. These boys have grown into the men that insist all women like to treated horribly while condemning those who don’t as horribly unnatural (without a touch of irony) and never questioning how such women learned to accept, even desire, this behavior.

  68. Carebear

    I’m really shocked that this problem is so universal. I don’t think my school ever had this problem. I was never sexually harassed and I don’t think anyone in my school touched each other except for the couples who used to make out in the hallway. I’m only 23 so it’s not like it was a long time ago. I’m guessing that it’s because I’m from a small town in Canada. I’m reading all your stories though and if/when I become a teacher I’ll keep this in mind.

  69. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Why do I continue to be amazed at how many of us can tell some personal variation of the butt-slapping/bra-snapping/boob and/or butt-grabbing story? You’d think I’d be used to it by now.

    Having been an early bloomer, I didn’t know I was supposed to welcome the attention and simply lashed out at the offender. All the shame and self-blame didn’t really take root in me until a few years later. And it took a long time to finally rid myself of it.

    Because we live in a world where the coin o’the realm is one’s value as a sexual object.

  70. Twisty

    “I never told you what stance to take on this issue.” — de Selby

    No, you threatened us, actually: “If you wish to carve out a unique “Personal bodily sovereignty” for females, you should consider the implications carefully.”

    Since it is clear that you are literate, I can only surmise that you wilfully chose to ignore the reminder, located just above the comment box, not to be a fucking pedantic asshole. The words ‘you should’ are considered hate speech on this blog, Chet. Particularly when followed by concerned exhortations that females use caution when proceding with feminist thought.

    By the way, only a member of the dominant class would describe women’s personal sovereignty as something ‘unique’ to be ‘carved out’. Women already have personal sovereignty; we are, in fact, human. We don’t need to ‘carve out’ anything. If men declined to participate in the Circus of Neanderthals that passes for civilization, the problem would be solved instantly.

  71. kate

    I’m in a hurry, so I haven’t read everything yet, but to answer Carol. I didn’t have the courage you had, although boys didn’t do anything like that to me, I doubt I would have fought back like that. I did though, in my neighborhood fight with a boy a lot who teased me, but there was nothing sexual about it.

    The patriarch in my family had some serious woman issues and I grew up hearing about awful sluts and the rest, so I was in constant fear of falling off the edge of male approval due to succumbing to my natural female evilness.

    I can’t even begin to tell you how much that messed up my mind, it even seeps out of my comment response!

  72. brainiac9

    I need to get my sister to read this post. She’s just emerging from Jr. High, and she often regales me with tales of boys going around flipping up girls’ skirts or pulling down their pants. When I tried to explain that this is harassment, and that she shouldn’t be forced to put up with it, her response was the equivalent of “It’s just a game. It’s fun! Besides, if I wear pretty underwear, it doesn’t matter”.

    The mind boggles. When I was harassed in Jr. High (admittedly, not to the same extreme, since I wasn’t pretty enough to garner much male attention), I was upset about it, not pleased at the attention. I worry that no matter how often I try to explain this sort of thing, she won’t get it, because she’s totally internalized the values of the patriarchy.

  73. Pooch

    dr.sue writes:

    I have wondered whether this institutional overreaction to disgusting behavior that could be addressed more effectively by concerted efforts by parents and administrators isn’t itself a way to discourage girls from speaking up. There, little missy! You are responsible for ruining an innocent boy’s life! Are you satisfied now?

    You’re scaring me now, dr.sue, but I admit this is quite possible. McMinnville is not otherwise known as a bastion of advanced thinking, so their hard line on this issue has puzzled me.

  74. Kali

    “If you want to effectively parent your daughter through the hell that is about to begin for her (actually, if you could encourage her to talk about it, and she felt safe and not too patriarch-ly shamed, the hell that has already begun for her and girls her age), I invite you to meet your daugher where she is.”

    Considering the creepy attitude of De Selby on display here, I would advice him against speaking with his daughter at all about this. He will do more harm than good.

  75. Jezebella

    “If you wish to carve out a unique “Personal bodily sovereignty” for females, you should consider the implications carefully.”

    Well, THAT certainly sounds like a threat, bubba.

    What, if we don’t act like good little girls then we might get HURT by the big bad boys? Like women don’t get raped, murdered, and beaten EVERY DAY ALREADY? Psh.

  76. TinaH

    To add to the anecdata – I remember being in 7th grade, wearing a skirt and sitting in the front row of social studies class. Tony M. sat right behind me and reached his arm under his desk, up through and behind my chair so that he could unzip my skirt. I remember getting fed up with this, leaping from my chair spinning around and scolding him roundly for his behavior, interrupting the teacher’s lecture. I did not get sent to the office for interrupting the behavior, but I don’t remember if Tony faced any consequences.

    I also remember being in elementary school and having a whole thing (4th grade? 3rd?) where the girls would all kick the boys squarely in the crotch for whatever offenses we deemed appropriate. I begin to suspect we should not have stopped doing that.

  77. stekatz

    Ew, did that de selby dude actually say that? I stopped reading his posts after the stench of entitlement in the first one.

    Well count me as one of the minions who had to survive Jr. High sexual harassment.

    In 7th grade, I was standing in the quad, minding my own business when Mark Hall decided it would be fun to load up a mouthful of water at the water fountain, walk over to me, and spit the entire contents of his mouth all over me followed by the raucous laughter of his friends. I didn’t know him at all. I had never had a single interaction with him until then.

    When I yelled at him for doing so, I incurred the wrath of him and all his friends. Not only did they call me a stuck up bitch on that day for not quietly putting up with their abuse, for the next week, they waited for me before school to unleash a variety of harassment. One day they lobbed baseballs at me. They did indeed do the ass slapping on another day, all the while commenting on how huge and ugly my ass was. Another day they stood in front of my locker and refused to move.

    And, no, not a single adult intervened. Then again, I had a deep mistrust of adults in general, so going to them never would have occurred to me.

    I could go on and on about all the abuse I went through in school and learned to internalize, but that would make me a bandwidth hog.

    And yes, while jail time for the aforementioned little rapists in training will ultimately just make them better rapists, there needs to start being a bigger response to this behavior by the culture at large.

  78. zofia

    Add to all of this that if you stand up to the creeps when they act this way you get labeled a ‘stuck up bitch’ or a ‘lez’ and they escalate their abuse as punishment for being uppity.

  79. Genevieve

    All I’m going to say is that, when I was thirteen? There is no WAY I’d've wanted any dudes slapping my ass. In fact, there would have been very few dudes I’d've wanted touching any part of me, period. They did anyway, though, one time when I was hanging out with a guy friend and two of his new ‘friends’–the ‘friends’ lifted me into the air without asking first and attempted to make me ‘hold still’ while they tried to do…something, I can’t remember what. It could’ve been as ‘innocent’ as tickling me, but I didn’t know that. I escaped by kicking madly, my parents didn’t believe that it was ‘all that bad,’ nevermind the fact that they knew the father of one of the boys and thought that “he couldn’t be bad.” They thought differently when he ended up desecrating a teacher’s car the following year. Oh, and my actual guy friend had a falling-out with these guys because of it, so at least one person had some sense.
    Maybe the adults should think about THAT, instead of how ‘badly’ their precious boys are being treated. Guys going around touching girls, especially in this sort of way, without asking them for permission, is wrong, and I’m glad someone’s doing something about it in this case.

  80. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Zofia:

    “Add to all of this that if you stand up to the creeps when they act this way you get labeled a ’stuck up bitch’ or a ‘lez’ and they escalate their abuse as punishment for being uppity.”

    No, I was taken to the principal’s office and chastised. I protested and my mother was summoned. She agreed that I’d acted in self-defense, and asked the principal what he was going to do about the original offense. He sputtered and stammered, and the upshot was We’ll Just Forget It Ever Happened. There’s a small part of me that has remained angry lo these many years.

    But this particular offender did not target me again. What he whispered with his little rapist-in-training friends concerned me not at all so long as he kept his paws to himself.

  81. maribelle

    Am I to understand that I’m to stay strictly away from her experience? That I am of no use in this context?

    Stay away from? What does that mean? You might try *listening* to her and not trying to *tell her* what her experience is/should be.

    As far as your “use” in this context, start by telling her that no one has the right to touch, fondle, hurt, slap or tweak her body IN ANY WAY and that if they do, she should immediately:

    1. Tell them to stop–loudly. Teach her to say “NO!” and “STOP NOW!” in clear, confident tones.*
    2. Inform the high-ranking nearby adult at once (in a calm, reasoned tone, outlining the exact details as clearly as possible.) “He grabbed my right breast and twisted it” will be taken more seriously than “He smacked me!” or “he touched me ‘up there’”

    Also:
    3. Remind her everyday that she is strong, confident and can take on *whatever* challenges life throws at her.
    4. BELIEVE HER when she tells you X happened. BELIEVE HER when she tells you how it made her feel. DO NOT try to tell her her feelings are overreactions, or wrong, or that maybe she misread the situation, or she’ll get over it and shouldn’t make a fuss.
    5. Be prepared to go down to that school and be the wrath of God if anything happens to her. BACK HER UP.

    *I have run through a practice drill with my daughter, and am always amazed how the loud-mouthed, confident girl got very quiet on her “no” even in our reenactment. By the end of the drill, she was yelling “NO!” and “STOP NOW!” with great abandon. Pray god/dess she will never have to use this skill. I wish the same safety for your daughter de selby and ALL OUR DAUGHTERS.

    And PS what kind of “unique Personal bodily sovereignty” is your precious daughter entitled to? How would it differ from that available to your son?

  82. Tupe

    Cheers to everyone who has called attention to the problem of the media only speaking about the experience of the boys in this case. Not listening to the experiences of female-bodied people perpetuates male privilege by ignoring anything else that would challenge it. After all, one of the defining aspects of having privilege is being blind to its existence or at least to your personal possession of it.

    To de Selby and others trying to unpack their MP: Listening is the primary role of an ally. You’d be surprised how much support you’ll be able to give you daughter when you admit that even an 11-year-old can intuit more about sexism than you can if she’s female. The next part of feminist parenting is giving her the tools of feminist analysis (vocabulary, history, lists of demands) with which to defend herself when she intuits that she’s being mistreated on the basis of her sex. Remember that every time your daughter experiences the downsides of being female in a patriarchy is a opportunity for you to check your opposite experience of being male in a patriarchy.

  83. zofia

    Antoinette Niebieszczanski, thank goodness your outcome was better than mine. I was actually kicked out of the class and then mercilessly tortured the rest of the year.

    Not long ago my very feminist eleven year old daughter was approached by a group of boys on the playground. They were hoping to embarrass her by asking if she was on her period and if she used tampons (ah, the joys of coed sex ed classes in Massachusetts) and she told me she smiled and said, “why, are you on your period, or do you need to borrow one to stick up your butt?” End of conversation.

    Her school has a very clear policy about keeping your damn hands to yourself.

  84. TinaH

    *I have run through a practice drill with my daughter, and am always amazed how the loud-mouthed, confident girl got very quiet on her “no” even in our reenactment. By the end of the drill, she was yelling “NO!” and “STOP NOW!” with great abandon.

    Goddessladymother, that is beautiful. I cannot begin to tell you, my fellow blamers, how much totally awesome parenting advice I get from this board.

    Practice drills – Maribelle, I cannot thank you enough for that idea.

    To Do List for Mothers of Boys:
    Run practice drills for boys who see sexual harassment of girls teaching them to say “HEY, STOP NOW.”
    Teach boys that they may not touch anyone without express proactive positive enthusiastic consent.

  85. j0lt

    I wrote about this a while ago (pre-McMinnville) http://joltblog.wordpress.com/2007/06/11/stop-the-shame-and-confusion/

    Thank you as always Twisty and blamers for saying things more coherently and trenchantly.

  86. Carol

    I was talking to my friends and hubby about this. 2 things were said. A story was told to me by my friend as follows: She and her (other) friend were on a crowded streetcar going to university one day. As often happens, a male used the opportunity to grope. The friend grabbed his hand, held it up in the air and loudly yelled “Whose hand is this I found on my breast? Did you wash it first?”

    I thought this was too funny.

    Second, my husband’s first response was “did the boys get slapped?” And his second was that the boys own asses would be red for a week if it was HIS son. And the son would also be exhausted by all the manual labour. When I asked what manual labour he responded,”Whatever. Carrying dumbells from the basement to the attic if need be. Whatever wears him out so he hasn’t got this excess energy”

    I had to share…

  87. Bird

    I recall being at my grade nine grad party. I was wearing a dress my mother had selected, and it had a large rosette in the middle of the neckline (I blame the late ‘80s). One of the boys in my class decided to poke the rosette and surrounding area: “What’s this? What’s this?”

    I slapped him so hard he had a hand-shaped bruise for a week. I was fed up with boys snapping bras, grabbing asses and generally being awful, so I did something about it.

    I did not get punished. I thank a very feminist teacher-librarian who was nearby when it happened. Mrs. MacRae was a good friend to us girls.

  88. de Selby

    I’m just checking in one last time to thank everyone for engaging my comments so forthrightly.

    I ordinarily have better sense than to invite myself to a party and create a scene, but I was feeling unusually refreshed last night.

    I regret that my sloppy, garrulous work created ill feelings. I am particularly unhappy that something I said was construed as a “threat” (of what, I’m still unclear). That couldn’t be more remote from my intent, and I apologize for creating that impression.

    Frankly, I rather enjoyed the vigorous exchange, and I certainly found it instructive. However, I recognize that my disputations broke the rules of this site, and I retire, chastened.

  89. PhysioProf

    The fact that this occurred in Oregon reminded me of Terri Jentz’s book, “Strange Piece of Paradise”. She describes her experience of being viciously attacked while camping in rural Oregon, and her later efforts to discover who the perpetrator was and bring him to much-belated justice. One powerful theme running through the book is how “boys-will-be-boys” leads inexorably to extreme misogynistic violence.

  90. PhysioProf

    “It is my sense that legitimizing the projection of the sins of adults upon the kids can only exacerbate the pathologies of our society.”

    It is an inescapable fact that pooh-poohing “boys-will-be-boys” behavior is training for, and encouragment of, their future misogynistic role as adult males in the patriarchy. Pointing this out is far from “projection of the sins of adults upon the kids”. These boys are being explicitly taught exactly what “sins” are expected of them when they grow up.

  91. Dolia

    …de selby, still a condescending asshat….

  92. Patti

    When deSelby warns us to be careful about expecting to have sovereign rights to our bodies as women, maybe he means this:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20030873/?GT1=10150

    Woman who value themselves and try to negotiate better wages are penalized for the simple act of self-advocacy. Men are not.

  93. maribelle

    TinaH–Yeah, thanks and good luck on practice drills. They also open up the chance to talk about all kinds of related stuff. Let us know how it goes.

    zofia–Thanks for reminding us that men/boys so often uses our embarassment against us (embarassment taught by the big P, not coincidentally.) Why should a girl get flustered and shamed when her period is mentioned?

    Your daughter took her power back by refusing to be embarrassed or shamed–those boys won’t try that again with her.

    I have found through the years of avoiding assault** that so often a strong, confident manner was my best asset, and the willingness to say “No”, “stop it” or “gotta go now” as soon as I sensed danger.

    Whether work acquaintance, family “friend”, entitled customer, the local minister (later indicted and forced to resign), landlord’s drunk husband, or pissed off sibling, I noticed one thing they all had in common–they were all hesitating, looking for some sense that they could actually do it, that I wouldn’t stop them or yell or cause trouble later. I quickly learned to let them know I was not taking any shit from anyone. And being chickenshits, they would (almost) always back down. Or regroup, and in that hesitation was my chance to get out of the situation.

    **my success rate, while very high, was not 100%

  94. metamanda

    zofia, your daughter is awesome. If I ever have one I hope I raise her to be as smart(ass) and feminist as yours.

    It’s really eye-opening to see how many women got harassed when they were young, and how clear the memories still are. I recall one clear groping incident when I was in 6th grade. The boy who smacked my ass was a friend of mine actually, and I’m fairly sure he did it on a dare, and purposefully in front of a classroom full of kids while the teacher was gone. I was furious. The incident ended with me sitting on his chest, throttling him and making him promise never to pull a stunt like that again. The boy who (I think) dared him in the first place took the opportunity to sit on his head. I suspect the public embarrassment hurt more than the throttling. He promised to behave, we shook on it. I never got in any trouble for it, but a girl in the class reported him and he had to speak to the principle. His mom went ballistic on him and called me to apologize. In retrospect, I wish the boy who dared him had gotten into some trouble.

    But the thing is, I think a lot of it was luck. If the teacher had been there, I wouldn’t have dared to respond the way I did. If it had happened a couple years later, the boys would have been bigger and their behavior more entrenched, and it could have gone pretty badly for me. If I had not happened to have a lot of assertive girls in my year at school, the boys might have been more misogynistic. All the more reason for girls and parents to push back on sexually harassing behavior while the kids are still young.

  95. Miller

    On the self-absorption of misogyny by girls today:

    Did anyone else see that PBS special (I believe) titled “Raising Boys.” I posted this before, but I feel it should be posted again. There were these high school football players that decided to perform a “funny” skit for the rest of their high school. They decided to go for the sure thing: gang rape humor. With one of the boys dressed in drag, they proceeded to form a large ring composed of the entire team, in which the “girl” was running around, trapped inside the circle, screaming, and in obvious distress. Smiling, the boys were thrusting back and forth.

    The PBS narrator, a well-respected psychologist, said that boys today don’t know what is sexually “appropriate.” Appropriate! Even PBS buys into the idea that rape is just bad manners.

    The worse part was that when a girl was asked about this she replied that she didn’t know “what the big deal was” since she saw that all the time on music videos. Ah, yes. Being against the atrocity of rape as prudish.

  96. TP

    I hope I’m not repeating something someone wiser than me has already said. This is a long thread.

    The reason the boys were sent to jail and given long sentences is to frighten women into silence about dominant behavior. It’s the typical passive-aggressive behavior of any oppressor. You pretend that you have to levy exaggerated punishments for things you don’t think are crimes in order to create the idea in our cultural mind that such things are less than criminal.

    So the public goes from “Those creepy little rapists in training!” to “Those poor boys were just being friendly!”. I’ve seen a lot of this lack of judgment in the judiciary over the past 30 years.

  97. eccelston pie

    the boys should be punished and publically chastised/humiliated, but felony charges are not appropriate. suspension from school, take away all their privileges like after school sports, recess, etc, make them write an essay about why they are assholes and make them read it at a school assembly.

  98. TinaH

    Maribelle – Nigel Jr’s only 3 1/2 so some of the drills are a coupla years off, but I’m still totally grateful for the idea.

  99. Daisy

    The fact that this occurred in Oregon reminded me of Terri Jentz’s book, “Strange Piece of Paradise”. She describes her experience of being viciously attacked while camping in rural Oregon, and her later efforts to discover who the perpetrator was and bring him to much-belated justice. One powerful theme running through the book is how “boys-will-be-boys” leads inexorably to extreme misogynistic violence.

    Thanks PP, I saw this book covered on TV and simply could not remember ANYTHING to Google it with! I’ve been trying to find it! Thanks so much for the title and author.

  100. S. D'Attournee-Lawson

    Whenever I leave my house, to go anywhere, to do anything , I assume the default male, having personally favorable conditions, is A RAPIST. It has served me well, both intuitively and effectively. I’m 20 years old. I started thinking this way after being given GHB and molested at age 16.

  101. S. D'Attournee-Lawson

    Hi ho.

  102. Sunspots

    Oh, what timing. I just saw a preview for SuperBad, a short clip that had room enough to include:
    1) high school boy ogling high school girl’s enthonged butt as she walks through the hall at school
    2) another high school boy grabbing another high school girl’s breast in the hall at school

    Hmmm…where *do* these little Oregon boys get their ideas?

    On a side note, it’s yet another Judd Apatow film that’s all about poor homely misunderstood Nice Guys scoring Teh Hotties.

  103. Natalia

    This reminds me of something I’ve been stewing over recently, namely that there was this book that was unexpectedly successful a few years ago, called Queen Bees and Wannabes, which was about the brutal social hierarchies among girls. I did not read the book, but it was so popular it was actually made into a movie, Mean Girls, which was similarly popular. Because where did the blame go? On girls, of course. Where’s the Mean Boys movie??

    Girls in high school are the victims of boys’ masculinity rituals, often in violent and degrading ways. It’s no surprise that some girls choose to collude in hopes of better treatment, but according to the movie, they’re just bitches, pure and simple.

    Actually, collusion might not be the best description of what’s going on. By treating girls like crap, the so-called “queen bees” are engaging in masculine behavior and are therefore afforded a certain amount of status (as long as they’re sufficiently pornified and subservient to actual penis-wielders). They do benefit from other girls’ pain, and that is reprehensible, but we all know where the real blame lies with the PATRIARCHY.

  104. Genevieve

    Sunspots–
    Yeah, I saw another Superbad preview that had one of the guys saying: “You know how girls always say: ‘Oh, I shouldn’t have slept with that guy last night?’ WE COULD BE THAT MISTAKE!”
    Real classy. Because it’s just great if a (possibly drunk girl with impaired judgment) is (possibly coerced into) sleeping with you.
    Oy. That is some bullshit I will NOT be seeing.

  105. Twisty

    Ah, de Selby. Nothing is more heartening than the good-natured sayonara post: “Gosh, I shore dont know what I did to offend you ladies, but it shore was educational!”

    I should just write the script, post it, and retire from blogging.

    For your daughter’s sake, de Selby, I hope you don’t stop reading this blog. If you don’t, eventually you will understand why we mocked you, and this understanding will give you invaluable insight when your kid is similarly denigrated by someone weilding male privilege, should she ever muster the the audacity to proclaim herself fully human in a man’s world.

  106. kate

    For the person who talked about role playing as a teaching tool, I did this as well with my two daughters. I learned about it by seeing a news article sometime in the mid eighties about girls being taught how to say no in a classroom.

    They now report they’ve not experienced sexual harassment in grade school or junior high, this thread got me to wondering and spurned me to call and ask each of them.

    I started the role play ‘no’ and teaching body sovereignty when they were around 6, 7 and 10 (the ten year old being my son). My son reports since he was teased and an outcast himself and hated the more aggressive boys, he never was subject to the pressure to harass others.

    That’s settled – whew!- for a bit there I was worrying that they weren’t telling me something after all these years, which of course, could still be.

    My little one did tell me though to ask her older sister about how she’s dealt with harassment as an adult, apparently she takes shit from no one.

    I loved the tampon story. I could use that on the jobsite someday, I’m sure.

  107. de Selby

    Twisty -

    Oh, I won’t stop reading this blog. You’re a giant.

    Commenting, though, has been shown to present significant contraindications.

  108. greenmorgaine

    When I was 8 my father told me that if someone hit me and I tried to kill them, he wouldn’t be upset with me. This was right after a zero-tolerance policy was instated by the school board that mandated the suspension of students defending themselves from violence by hitting back. He later showed me in the newspaper a case where the courts tried a little kid as an adult, and told me that killing could get me jail time, but he was still on my side all the way.
    So I believed that defending myself physically was ethical. Somehow this must have been outwardly apparent, because in middle school my friends would use me as a physical shield against bullies. Sort of ridiculous because I was thin, shy, extremely soft spoken, and had never been in a fight. The rare person who touched me with malice was always a total stranger attacking from behind. I figure the warning must be in my facial expression.
    Anyway, parents should give their little kids permission to fight back against physical violence. To hell with school policies against self defense, to hell with permanent record and to hell with college. Its not fair to turn compulsory education into compulsory beating/molestation. It would be nice if the schools protected kids, but they usually don’t. If the only directions your kids get on dealing with violence is from the school, they will end up believing that violence against them is not important. I knew a kid who was 10 when he was running around slapping girls on the butt. When my little cousin told me about how she broke his nose on the playground, the smile on her face said everything.

  109. S. D'Attournee-Lawson

    What’s super bad about Superbad- Michael Cera used to be so funny as George Michael on Arrested Development.

  110. Crystal

    I was going to write that I hadn’t been physically assaulted in elementary or middle school, but it was still hellish and I was beyond insecure anyway. Then I remembered that I was pretty seriously assaulted in 8th grade by a guy I actually had a little bit of a crush on. I hated it and was mortified because it was frightening and others saw it, and also ended up seeing parts of my body that I’d rather they didn’t. However, I didn’t even think of it as an assault for some reason. I think because I considered him to be on a higher social strata than me, so I should just be happy that he was paying attention to me at all and I even continued to be friends with him. Sad, sad, sad. Perfect example of the patriarchy at work.
    On a constructive note, I should add that this happened during my one year at public school, whereas nothing of the kind happened at the alternative private schools that I went to, so clearly it has everything to do with the environment and expectations, as I’m sure you already know.
    Anyway, the real reason I’m posting a comment is that I read an article that I thought y’all would like to read:
    http://www.slate.com/id/2168758/

  111. slythwolf

    You know, I was a lot younger than thirteen when my mother taught me A) which parts of my body were unequivocally private and B) that anybody touching me anywhere without my consent was in the wrong. I can’t decide if these boys’ parents never had that conversation with them, or if they did but the boys, being steeped in their own male privilege, did not make the mental leap and extend the same rights to female people that they took for granted for themselves.

    This kind of reminds me of the dude who used to sit behind me in choir, who once spent the few minutes before rehearsal regaling his neighbors with a tale of how, in Catholic elementary school, he used to run up behind the girls and pull their skirts up. I turned around and told him what he had done was sexual harassment. He said, “We were eight.” As if that was any kind of excuse.

  112. slythwolf

    Are there any women who escaped the experience of being groped at school? I’m imagining that the only way to escape the barrage of sexual assault would be to attend an all-girls school.

    I was going to say that it also works to be the nerdiest kid in school who everybody thinks is weird.

    But then I remembered.

    If I am remembering all of it, it will have started in or around the second grade, when a boy on the playground triple-dog-dared me to show him my vagina. (I didn’t.) In third grade the class bully developed a “crush” on me and threatened that if I wouldn’t “be his girlfriend” he was going to beat me up. By fifth grade the bra-snapping had begun, and the boys spent an inordinate amount of time evaluating who had the biggest and/or nicest breasts.

    In middle school I cut my hair very short and wore several-sizes-too-big boys’ clothes. (In retrospect it may have been this that led to the long-running rumour that I was a lesbian; turns out the little assholes were only half right.) I kept to myself and got from one class to the next as quickly as possible, unwilling to linger in the hallways any longer than I had to.

    When I skipped eighth grade I decided to make a “fresh start” and spent the whole summer trying to figure out how to be “prettier”, which included letting my older sister pick out my entire wardrobe and getting contacts (because glasses were “nerdy”). I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t get the boys to “hit on” me; it turned out my new classmates were actually pretty decent people, and didn’t have nearly as much harassment going on, while the older kids had heard all about what a dork I was from my sister and didn’t find me worthy of any form of pseudosexual attention. It took a new batch of kids moving to town when I was in eleventh grade for it to start up again.

    There were four or five of them, and their desks sat roughly in a circle around mine in my seventh hour mythology class. They gave me shit every day; one of them would loom over me and leer. He sat in front of me, and once he bent backward so his head was upside down on my desk and grabbed the back of my head and tried, I can only assume, to pull me down and kiss me. These boys used to grab my chair and tilt it, or shake it, or pick it up with me in it. I remember when the teacher–one of my favourite, most trusted teachers ever–asked me to stay after class one day and asked if I wanted her to make them stop. And I said no, because as scary and creepy as it was, I had internalized the patriarchy enough to feel a sick satisfaction that four or five boys would pay that much attention to me.

  113. Kali

    “the boys should be punished and publically chastised/humiliated, but felony charges are not appropriate. suspension from school, take away all their privileges like after school sports, recess, etc, make them write an essay about why they are assholes and make them read it at a school assembly.”

    Sexual assault is a crime. If a juvenile commits a sexual assault, it is still a crime. If they had punched other kids in the face and done it repeatedly, they would and should face criminal charges. Suspension from school for a sexual assault is like a slap on the wrist. To these guys it would be more like a vacation. One of them is pretty much having a vacation, sitting at home and playing video games. Note that the media is trying to create the impression that these boys have already been sentenced to 10 year prison terms. That is not the case. They have been charged and may not serve any significant time in jail.

    And I don’t really buy this notion that charging these guys is a way to intimidate women/girls into silence. What message are we sending when we say something is wrong but refuse to punish the wrongdoer (beyond a slap on the wrist)?

    Also, this is not about lack of education. These boys are old enough to know what they are doing is wrong, regardless of whether their parents/teachers told them or not. But they are doing it anyway because they know that they’ll get away with it without any serious consequences. So, personally, I’m standing behind the people who decided to prosecute them and send the clear message that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated.

  114. Miller

    Slythwolf writes: “He said, “We were eight.” As if that was any kind of excuse.”

    How amazing he has no hint of realization that you, too, were a young child. They have been trained since infancy to base their very identity, their sense of worth, in relation to The Enemy. I believe they’re absolutely psychologically dependent on us (e.g., a batterer who cannot bear that his beloved Enemy has left).

    Question for Twisty: Would it make any impact if we turned it around from answering, “What’s so wrong with harassment?” to asking “What physical threat did the girls pose to these boys in order to justify violence?” We need to have the boys justify themselves rather than having the girls justify why they didn’t warrant such hostility or prove how bad it is. Obviously we know how cowardly such actions are, but perhaps changing the public frame of reference can make it absurdly obvious and a tool for mockery.

  115. chezjenne

    I was pushed down on the playground (by boys of course) and found to be panty-less when I was five. I was mortified and never so freely me again.

  116. DrSueB

    First things first: welcome back, Twisty! I’m doing the twist just in honor of your undeadness. I’m a longtime lurker, but IBTP is lifeblood for me.

    After the Twisty Consent? Schmonsent! Protocol, I started doing role playing exercises with my 17 year old son. At first, it was really awkward and he just turned red a lot and stammered, but it opened the door to lots of discussion. Now we’re talking about the butt swatting preservation society, and I’ve shared all kinds of (long repressed, painful) stories of girlhood in the patriarchy. Geez—remembering sucks. But more good discussion has ensued. All the excellent blaming on this blog makes my job as a parent a bit easier. Gracias.

    I should note that once when my kiddo was 5 or so, the parent of a girl in his class called to thank me for raising a feminist son. Turns out another boy was chasing her daughter and trying to kiss her (and the daughter, like good girls in the patriarchy, was giggling, but still running and looking uncomfortable) and my son marched up and asked if she wanted to boy to kiss her. She said no and he said “your body is your own. Tell him to stop it.” She did, he stopped, and all was well. That day. But what’s freakin’ me right the hell out is that he goes to college in a year and I can’t even imagine all the sordid patriarchal scenarios that will unfold. My furtive hope is that a voice will start lurking constantly in his head (like it does in mine) with the question: what would Twisty do?

  117. maarmie

    I disagree that these boys should be incarcerated. They should be severely punished, yes, until they learn that what they did is wrong. But several people who have posted comments about it here are right: They would learn worse things in detention and come out bitter and possibly more full of disregard for women than before.

    Punishment, yes. Incarceration, no.

    About the prepubescent who was assaulting the woman’s daughter: That kid has problems. Perhaps report the incident to child protective services and have them come investigate his home life. You can do it anonymously. That boy has likely suffered sexual abuse himself.

  118. PhysioProf

    “Anyway, the real reason I’m posting a comment is that I read an article that I thought y’all would like to read:
    http://www.slate.com/id/2168758

    Yes, that is a disturbing situation. It was discussed here at length:

    http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2007/06/21/nebraska-judge-lacks-clue-re-truth/

  119. Kathan

    school story: I was giving a Spanish oral presentation in high school, standing in front of the class when I heard this boy sitting at the desk right in front of me whisper not so softly “Would you get with that shit?” to the boy next to him, who shrugged. I kept my face on my note cards and pretended not to have heard, but I felt so humiliated and powerless and…worthless. I can’t forget it.

  120. pisaquari

    Blamer story time.

    In 8th grade a super popular pornsick wanka, whom I had a super tool-o-patriarch crush on, mouthed to me from across the classroom: “I wanna rape you” Mmmm–what did my power-dominated festishized self do?
    Swoon.

  121. kate

    Incarceration of juveniles without appropriate follow-up into family dynamics and sociological factors serves nothing, save for removing the kid for awhile.

    Children are products of their environment and unfortunately, the values and behaviors of all parents do not exemplify the ideal. Not all parents should really be parents and many are quite adept at hiding severe dysfunction. Most often, their children are trained early on to protect the perpetrator at home, some will emulate the perpetrator by example, others will be encouraged and taught to perpetrate sexual violence. Still others will act out their victim role in social relationships outside their family sphere.

    Both roles; the perpetrator and the victim, serve the instill the heirarchy of the patriarchy. They are the enforcers of the code that others look to as the limits. From one generation, goes to the next.

    Children don’t live in a vacuum and frankly, I’d rather see parents punished for the deviant behavior of their children, especially if they refuse to take remedial action if given the chance to. I don’t know how many girls I knew that acted out sexually or internalized sexual abuse because the behavior (sexual abuse) was condoned at home. Or the child who perpetrates assault on his/her peers because they were taught that such impulse gratification is the norm and personal boundaries have no meaning.

    No efforts to get inside the head of a child who lives in such an environment will change anything, except probably cause the child to withdraw further and seek the willing rationale of the parents. The only successful intervention in such a case is removal of the child and often that has negative implications as well.

    Until parents are held responsible for their children’s behavior and until our society is willing to fund the infrastructure to do this in a way that works at the roots of the problems in the family, or removes the child, or some destructive family member, from the matrix, I don’t think anything will change.

    A typical child even as old as late teens still has not developed enough emotionally (and that’s for normal development) to make wise value judgments unique from those who have the greatest influence over them. We do ourselves and our future generation a serious injustice when we expect a child to carry the full responsibility for their behavior, when it is indeed, their parents who have the responsibility to teach, guide and nurture them properly and it is most often from their parents that such deviance springs and is allowed to flourish.

  122. PhysioProf

    “Until parents are held responsible for their children’s behavior and until our society is willing to fund the infrastructure to do this in a way that works at the roots of the problems in the family, or removes the child, or some destructive family member, from the matrix, I don’t think anything will change.”

    Some possibilities worth considering: (1) Misogynistic violence is an inevitable consequence of the nuclear family being the usual means for raising children. (2) Consequently, what you suggest might serve as a palliative in certain particular instances, but is doomed as a general strategy for eliminating misogynistic violence. (3) The only feasible general solution is to discard the nuclear family as the usual means for raising children.

  123. jodie

    When my kid was 12 and in the 7th grade, she and a friend each stole a cheerleader uniform from her middle school (these were of sufficient value to make the theft a felony offense). They did it (at least in part) because cheerleading was such an expensive deal at that school that some kids (including mine) couldn’t afford to participate (and she apparently desperately wanted to, and playing dressup with the uniforms was the next best thing).

    She returned it two days later after being overcome with guilt and was prosecuted to the full extent of the law by the school (drug tests, parole officer, court, property class, psychological evaluation, court fees, even had to pay the victim for the trauma of the uniform disappearing); not only that, she was forbidden any school activities for a full year, plus she had a week’s suspension.

    I thought it was much too harsh; she’d never been in any trouble before, was a good student, and didn’t have any behavior or attitude problems. I went with the process, though, because I thought she needed to understand how continuing that behavior could affect her future. She’s walked the straight and narrow ever since.

    Now, I understand WHY my daughter did what she did; that didn’t make it right. I understand why those boys did what they did, and that doesn’t make their offense right either.

    So yeah, those boys need to be subjected to the system, and by Dog, betcha they never offend again. Plus they’re young enough (like my daughter) that their records will be sealed as long as they don’t reoffend.

  124. Kali

    “I’d rather see parents punished for the deviant behavior of their children”

    That is a dangerous and ill-informed idea. There are families where the parents and siblings are perfectly reasonable, nice, responsible people but one kid will do horrible things. You cannot blame everything on the parents. As it is, some parents are going crazy trying to control sociopathic kids and you want to punish them further?

    There is a biological component to sociopathy. Further, society has a much greater influence on kid behaviour/attitudes as opposed to parents and teachers. To assume that parents and teachers have absolute control over how the kids turn out is dangerously delusional. You are just adding to the mother-hatred that is the standard societal response for any kid behaving badly.

    Some people have greater sociopathic tendencies and lack of empathy as compared to others. They respond better to carrots & sticks rather than to education about principles and empathy. Sitting a child like this down and explaining to him why something is wrong because it hurts someone is useless. He needs to be punished in order to not repeat his offenses and the punishment/disincentive should be strong enough. They’ve tried empathy training with rapists and failed miserably. The only thing they achieved was teaching the rapists how to fake being “reformed” so they can get out of jail early.

    The response needs to be tailored to the kind of offender. My feeling is that boys who sexually assault at such a young age would not respond to talk about respecting others and having empathy. They only understand the language of carrots and sticks.

    Regarding emotional development of teens: That is another dangerous trend of thought. With this logic, if an adult can be shown to be really sociopathic and emotionally under-developed, he would deserve a lesser punishment? The more sociopathic the crime, the less the punishment? Next we’ll be arguing that the serial rapist-torturer-murderer really couldn’t help himself because of his low impulse control and congenital lack of empathy. Poor guy. What’s the point of putting him in jail? He wouldn’t learn anything good out there.

    My preference is we stick to current rules which see whether the person is mentally developed/old/sane enough to know whether what they did was wrong or not. If you want to add impulse-control and emotional development to this, you are basically handing the most sociopathic among us a special privilege of leniency of punishment for their heinous crimes.

  125. thebewilderness

    While I agree that the parents have some responsibility, in this situation they are not the adults who saw this behavior every day and condoned it with silence. The adults operating in loco parentis whatchamacallit were the school administrators and teachers. They have created a hostile environment for half the population of their school. Every one of them needs to explain to the entire school district what they thought their responsibility was. How much violence are they prepared to turn a blind eye to?
    So should the media propagandists have to explain, just exactly how much violence against female children is socialization. At what point does it become antisocial? When they’re dead?

  126. Urban

    I came across this article in the Guardian (UK) this morning and I thought it might be of some interest:
    http://media.guardian.co.uk/site/story/0,,2138728,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=networkfront

    It’s about an adult male pinching the bottom of a female TV reporter, in public, while the cameras were rolling. Audacious little swine. Apparently the police are quite keen to press charges to the full extent of their power, but the victim doesn’t want them to, so they can’t*. I found myself wondering whether, if the woman was not a public persona, (as news reporter) she would have pursued this to the full extent. The article makes it sound as though she says one thing (women have rights and are human) and then doesn’t follow through on her convictions. I’m really confused by her behaviour, and I know who I blame.

    *aside: I’m no expert, but I thought that the reason police tend to drop charges if the victim isn’t co-operating is that they have difficulty with evidence (often) as a result. In this case, the evidence is clear – so why would the police abide by that train of thought? After all, in a murder, the victim isn’t talking but the police don’t let it drop.

  127. EN

    “Added her husband: We’d all be in jail if everyone got arrested for this kind of stuff.’”

    No, actually, we wouldn’t, and if you were a better father instead of a drivel-spewing shithead, maybe your kid wouldn’t be, either. (Not to let off the school administrators, by any means.)

  128. Loorol

    As a junior high educator for five years, I have certainly seen my share of teachers that did not act to stop behavior that was definite harassment. I have even seen teachers dole out harassment or demeaning language. As a feminist and a peace activist, I regularly stopped behaviors that others considered only marginally offensive, if at all, and I reported teachers who were out of line.

    Imagine how floored I was when I found out that a pet “game” of the junior high boys was to touch the girls’ butts in the hallway, and that it had been going on for weeks, maybe months, and I had never been aware. I was definitely observant, and I had a reputation for not tolerating garbage. Maybe the kids tried to do it when I wasn’t around, as the likelihood of getting busted was less. That may have happened to some extent, but I am sure a few times it happened right under my nose, and I didn’t see it. I felt like I had failed my girls when I found out.

    Here’s the thing. This has become normalized behavior in our society, so that when you put 90 kids in single file lines on their way to lunch, someone’s hands (usually a boy’s) are going to wind up someplace they have no right to be (usually in a girl’s personal space). I’m no longer teaching, but I honestly didn’t know how to solve this at the time. The boys got talks from the school resource officer (on-campus cop–this was inner city), and the girls all got talks from the counselor about inappropriate touching and how to handle it/report it when it happens. I made sure to sit in on the talks where I was allowed so that I could reinforce specific talking points with my students, but what, really do you do after that? I had a feminist, activist curriculum (which was a grand total of 45 minutes of their day), I had clear rules and consequences, I had great parent communication, and I was firm and consistent. That wasn’t enough to keep the “games” from happening. So we had The Talks.

    Knowing that those Talks won’t make a difference for some of those boys, and that you can’t necessarily predict which ones, should teachers who want to provide a harassment-free zone just go with segregation at all times? How does forced dualistic gender codification and segregation help the social skills and development of the kids, especially when it’s been made clear that this segregation is happening because one group has a higher proportion of predatory members (even though both groups still have to be treated in a non-discriminatory fashion)? I’d love to just pull out the predators (and I did make the ones I caught walk next to me so I could watch them), but when the kids won’t report and you can’t catch most of them in the act, what do you do? I am looking for serious suggestions–I certainly don’t have the idea that there is nothing to be done. I know there must be solutions. i just didn’t have great ones at the time.

    I know some teachers choose to fail their kids by not stopping behavior they *know* is happening because they don’t treat it as serious. But what about those of us who are trying to make schools truly safe? Is it impossible?

    I don’t actually believe that the current school system does much, in many cases, then reinforce social structures. The whole system is predicated on models of dominance and submission. I suppose that’s why radical feminism appeals to me.

  129. Feminist Avatar

    Hey Urban, the BBC says the police are looking to prosecute the guy, the difference is that they will prosecute him for an £80 finable, public order offence, whereas if she complained he could have been done with sexual assault. What she said about the incident was interesting for a blamer- she wants men punished but doesn’t want to be the one pointing the finger:

    “I’ve no desire to punish this man through the courts. But I did wonder, if I accepted such behaviour without complaint, what hope do women who are groped in public in this way have of any recourse? I personally found the matter quite humiliating and somewhat disrespectful to the plight of those I was reporting about. Male reporters would never be treated to a public goosing. Should the women of my profession not expect the same respect.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/oxfordshire/6924592.stm

  130. Zora

    I just read this, and wanted to show it to somebody.
    Mind if I slide it in here?

    http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/the_way_we_live/article2079646.ece

    I hope not.

  131. Zora

    This thread brings to mind so many instances of school ground sexual harassment; I couldn’t possibly take the time to list them all. But one in particular has always struck me as grand. A girl in the grade below me, 6th grade, had been “going with” this boy Brett Sutter. (Yep, that’s his name for all to know.) When she broke things off with him he chased her down on the playground and hit her for it. We all banded together, called him nasty names and ostracized him. Nobody ever “went with” him again. Why, I’ve always wondered, is this not common protocol?

    I don’t recall if anybody told a teacher or not. Like most things, it was probably kept amongst us kids. Adults seldom listen anyway.

  132. Shadow

    I attended a German gradeschool in the 60s when my family was living overseas. My American sensibilities were shocked because the boys routinely chased the girls and BEAT US UP. No mere ass-grabbing or bra-snapping here. The violence was brutal and absolutely stunning. The boys even chased us into the girls’ bathroom and beat us up there (i.e., there was no safety anywhere). The German girls ran in terror, but nobody complained, and no teacher ever intervened. “Recess” was basically hunting season on the playground. One day I refused to run, and I kicked the ringleader between the legs. This was completely unexpected; apparently, no girl had ever fought back. I think the boys rationalized that I had acted like a banshee because I was a foreigner–not because chasing and beating girls was wrong–and this was how they were able to explain away my actions and retain their self-respect as chasers and beaters. My act of violence won me freedom from further beatings that year, but did nothing to change the overall culture of chasing and beating for everyone else.

  133. Orange

    I don’t remember the boy-on-girl stuff happening to me when I was in school. Maybe because I was a shy nerd? I was more apt to get picked on by the girls. I was terrified to wear dresses after first grade, but I think it was more the fear that someone might see my underwear while I climbed the monkey bars. (I was a frightfully modest child…and adult, actually.)

    In high school, there was the Republican boy who said my best friend and I were lesbians. Fast-forward 20 years and he was right about one of us. But groping and slap-ass? I don’t remember any directed at me. A junior-high friend of mine did get far too much “attention” from boys, though, and she wa just messed up enough to welcome much of it.

    Now I’ve got a 7-year-old son. When he’d play with his “girlfriend” after school on the playground, I watched carefully. Grabbing, wrestling, refusing to let go of her–I think at this point he’s not really treating her much differently than the boys. And I don’t want to teach him that girls are somehow incapable of roughhousing just like the boys, but the second she looks like she wants out, I holler at him to knock it off. If he’s pounced on a boy, I watch out for my kid’s welfare more than for the other boy’s welfare. I’m just not sure at what age he’s going to pick up the bullshit about harassing girls, at what age I need to teach him that there are certain limits that are a bit different when it comes to girls. Maybe I should gender-neutralize my teaching and just tell him that it’s not OK to hug or kiss or tickle somebody who doesn’t want it, regardless of their sex?

  134. Stroll

    Interesting discussion thread here on this subject. One of the points that is being made (elsewhere) repeatedly regarding this story is that “it’s not like the girls were HURT”, meaning, I guess, no one was put in the hospital by a little “horseplay”. Where psychological effects are noted, it’s noted as part of both the boys and girls “development” or something.

    I will admit to similar behavior as a child, which, as an adult I have profound guilt for. Twisty’s original post notes that the boys are a product of their culture. “Pushing the girls around” is instilled as early as boys are given trucks and girls are given dolls, and it’s just something that mothers and fathers alike even chuckle about, ’cause “boys will be boys”.

  135. Kate

    Kali: I don’t want to derail the thread on a point no one else is interested in, but you took what I said and ran with it.

    Kids suffering from such provably biological disorders as oppositional disorder make up a small number of child offenders, usually the worse, but a small number.

    When the focus moves from the child only to the family matrix, then more often than not a solution can be found that can make inroads to changing the child’s behavior for the better. Locking people up, much less kids, solves nothing, save for removing the worse, but most kids and adults do return to society.

    In this state, misbehavior by juveniles is fact treated in such a way. The family is almost always mandated to begin counseling and behavioral management programs, to assist them in dealing with the child and also to locate possible deficiencies in the family that cause the behavior.

    Deficiencies could be anything from an over-worked parent strapped for resources emotionally and financially, or other factors. But intervention can make the difference between making a child a permanent social outcast and repeat offender, or finding the problem and resolving it.

    Only in the most extreme, intractable cases are children completely beyond rehabilitation or behaviorial change. But nothing will happen if the support system around them changes or strengthens as well.

    And yes physioprof, the nuclear family is indeed dsyfunctional, but I was not looking at the longer term problem. In fact, most social services encourage families to reach out to the community for support. Its no surprise to me that wingnuts find counseling and therapy services threatening.

  136. slythwolf

    The predominant attitude toward boys harassing girls seems to be that the girls “have to learn sometime”. Even women I have spoken with seem to think that this is just how boys/men are, and girls/women have to learn to put up with it early or it will–I don’t know–drive us insane or something.

    I think those who put up with and are all right with it have been driven slightly insane.

  137. Mau de Katt

    Shira: (re: the boys throwing rocks) …begged me not to report it on the logic that, if she ignores them, they’ll stop (how much internalized responsibility for men’s violence must she have had to believe that she was causing their behavior by not “ignoring them” enough as she sat by herself reading a damn book? The mind boggles).

    Actually, what usually happens is that the “authority figure” in question hauls the boys in, asks them if they did it, they deny it, and get their friends to back them up. OR they minimize it, say they are sorry, then apoligize and get off with a lecture.

    They then escalate the harrassment against the girl, and have their friends join in.

    Unless you can find some “authority figure” who believes you and really tries to stop it, like the administrator you reported it to, you’re just going to get worse for “tattling” on the harrassers.

  138. Bird

    I’m just not sure at what age he’s going to pick up the bullshit about harassing girls, at what age I need to teach him that there are certain limits that are a bit different when it comes to girls. Maybe I should gender-neutralize my teaching and just tell him that it’s not OK to hug or kiss or tickle somebody who doesn’t want it, regardless of their sex?

    I’d teach him that everyone has boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed without permission, whether that’s a girl, another boy, or him. He needs to know that he has rights over his own body, and that every single other human person has those same rights, male or female.

    If you teach him that girls have different rules, I think that leads to him seeing female people as a different kind of human. That usually turns into less-than-human in our patriarchal world.

  139. Andrea

    Twisty’s post and this thread are merely further evidence that our school system is an extension of the patriarchy and is no place to get an education. When I was in elementary school and junior high in a rural community eons ago, it didn’t feel like school – it felt like a warzone – harrassment from teachers and students alike. Every day. And I don’t need to regurgitate the details as they are so similar to what so many of you have posted.

    How can anyone achieve their potential in such a negative environment? My goodness, for me, it was a feat to survive it!

    There’s got to be a better way.

  140. Kali

    “Kids suffering from such provably biological disorders as oppositional disorder make up a small number of child offenders, usually the worse, but a small number.”

    I am not talking about clinical disorders. Lack of empathy/remorse is a normal (i.e. it is normally distributed, as in a bell curve) trait in both adults and children. Some people are amenable to reform, usually those on the lower end of that bell curve. Their offenses are relatively minor. Sexual assault is not a minor offense. People who are amenable to reform would not be behaving as these boys did. The only thing that works with people on the higher end of that bell curve (where I suspect these boys would be placed) is punishment as a deterrent.

    Anyway, I’m glad you’ve backed down from the blame-mom-first-ask-questions-later position.

  141. Joanna

    I have my stories, too, dammit. My 12 year old daughter who has just finished 7th grade has not reported being groped or grabbed, but she has talked about how most of the boys that she’s known for years are wannabe thugs and how sad it is that she doesn’t have a friend who’s a boy with whom she can have a real conversation (she does have male friends she enjoys, but they’ve cut themselves off from the kind of verbal closeness the girls have). It’s also quite possible that she has kept it from me despite my efforts to let her know that I’ll listen to her if something like this comes up.
    She clearly distinguishes the bullies and instigators from the followers (X dares Y to do stuff, and Y is too scared to stand up to him) and has friends who are boys who do not engage in that behavior. She also has two gay dads, so we’ve talked about harrassment, being different, and how to respond to teasing, etc.

    She had a great sex-ed teacher who taught the girls about the difference between passive, agressive, and assertive behaviors, with written examples, role-playing, and possible responses. I was thrilled when I saw it. It was part of a curriculum for preventing teen pregnancy, but I saw it as all the stuff nobody taught me when I was her age and had to learn when I was an adult, like “it’s OK to say NO.” I do see her being extremely self-conscious about her changing body, and have worked to keep the communication open, because even though we are close, she is needing to set some boundaries with me, and that includes keeping some stuff private.

    I fully intend to do some role-play stuff following the examples some folks have offered–thanks!!! We’ve had lots of conversations, and her school is actually very aware of these issues, but as we know, a lot can happen that the teachers don’t see.

  142. Kali

    “should teachers who want to provide a harassment-free zone just go with segregation at all times?”

    Loorol, I’m a big fan of single-sex schools. Girls who go to single-sex schools/colleges are far more likely to be confident, assertive and high achievers as compared with co-ed girls. I read somewhere that high achieving women were 16 times (i.e. 1600%) more likely to come from a single-sex educational background than a co-ed background.

    There are two main objections to single-sex education, both of which, IMO, don’t hold up to greater scrutiny.

    The first is that allowing single-sex education will lead to inferior quality education for girls. I don’t believe this. I’ve been to both co-ed and all-girls schools. Two of the most academically challenging schools I attended were both girls schools. And we wouldn’t be seeing the results as noted above if this objection was true.

    The second is that the outside world has both males and females, so girls/women should learn to deal with men/boys. But, I think the reality is quite different. Girls who have been in a nurturing environment grow up to be confident and assertive and don’t take crap from men/boys when they go into the outside world. Girls who have been subject to male harrassment from a young age learn to take crap and accept it as their lot in life.

  143. Ms Kate

    I find it very interesting that nobody has mentioned that this is the same school system that was sued for strip searching a whole gym class full of girls.

    Perhaps this is the root of the “call the cops” response?

    Given how very fucking, well, common this garbage is in middle schools, I can’t help but wonder why they don’t have a very firm and concise policy other than “call the cops”. Sounds like a bunch of administrators are shirking their basic responsibility to create an appropriate learning environment which permits not only girls but dweebs, dickwads, gaywads, immigrants and children of color to learn in a respectful environment.

    Gee, that’s just too fucking hard! That would mean comprehensive awareness programs, training of faculty, systematic changes in the structure of the school day and curriculum, and some sense of age-appropriate expectations and tools for creating boundaries and setting limits and GUIDING children toward appropriate behaviors that they may not learn at home – or may learn at home but conveniently forget while roving in packs. It isn’t enough to call the cops and say “arrest them” when somebody has no fucking clue how to behave and exists in an environment that reacts ONLY to extremes of behavior while permissively avoids all that leads up to that culmination of disrespect.

    Let’s face facts: prison time, parole, criminal records are not appropriate responses given the ages of these kids. Suspension, mandatory family counseling, and threats of expulsion are very very strong ways to grab these brats by the neck and shake the shit out of them AND their parents. Not only is jail, as one commenter said, advanced placement antisocial training, the threat of prosecution makes these kids out to be martyrs in a way that FAILS to address the underlying problem of “hostile school environment” which was created and permitted by the staff and administration. Would there be so much sympathetic press for their pathetic bullshit had they been suspended and forced to attend family counseling that included sensitivity training? Whining yes, international whining, no.

  144. lizard23

    *Having my sexual attractiveness critiqued by a group of boys. In 8th grade. And wanting to be rated high, although I wouldn’t admit to it.

    *In junior high, they kept lists of the girls they wanted to sleep with. They’d circulate them; it was a big topic of conversation. I don’t have any idea if parents or teachers knew.

    *Having boys sit next to me on the school bus and move in closer and closer, trying to get their bodies against mine.

    One of the things that gets me in MSM descriptions of this incident is how, because the aggressors are kids, there’s this idea that what happened couldn’t be serious. Is it less traumatic for a girl-child to be nonconsensually groped than it is for an adult woman? Because if someone at worked grabbed my ass, they’d be in for all sorts of trouble, and I’m a lot more able to deal with this stuff emotionally than children are.

    I was skeptical about the earlier posts about children being oppressed. But now I’m remembering back to that feeling of total powerlessness that was junior high, and how we didn’t tell adults about our kid culture, because we didn’t want to get our peers in trouble, because we didn’t trust adults to understand and help us, because of something. I never told adults about the (admittedly few and far between) sexual stuff that I was happening. But I didn’t tell them about any of the other awful stuff happening, either, and neither did my friends.

    I think there is a comparison between this and what some boys go through, although its not perfect. I think nearly all women probably have stories about inappropriate sexual talk/touching happening to them as children, and adults either not knowing or blaming the victim or rationalizing boys-will-be-boys. I think a much smaller percentage of boys have the same story with physical assault: getting beaten up and not being able to get anyone to pay attention to it, or being told it’s their fault, etc. etc. etc. It’s all part of the same system, and I guess that part of that system is about kids not being entitled to have say about what happens to their bodies, and things that are crimes when done against adults aren’t perceived as such when they’re done to children. Which doesn’t make much sense.

  145. de Selby

    Ms Kate -

    I said I was going to keep quiet, but I agree with you so much that I’m breaking the pledge.

    Our school district has a hierarchy of disciplinary measures available for dealing with antisocial behavior.

    If a student disrupts the learning environment for his peers, the first “serious” measure (beyond a trip to the vice-principal) would be to move him to “In-School Suspension”. He would lose his privilege to participate in extracurricular activities (such as sports), and spend his classroom hours segregated from the other students. He is not relieved from his assignments, and his regular teacher still grades his work.

    Butt-slapping would be Assault and Battery in the adult world, so an offense of that kind would move him straight to a “Behavior Unit”. This is an alternative school for students who are deemed a risk to their peers. In this setting, they are limited to core curricula, subjected to close supervision, and required to attend counseling sessions.

    If that sounds enlightened, bear in mind that under our “zero tolerance” policy, being caught on campus with a cigarette results in automatic actual (not in-school) suspension.

    I don’t really know what to make of that.

  146. Spikat

    I recall reading some statistic that something like 75% of American women will be assaulted in their lifetimes. I was trying to reconcile how 3/4 of women would be raped – I know only a few who were. Then one day it dawned on me, duh, all assault is not rape. I was equating them, and ignoring the traumae of groping, skirt-pulling, etc.

    I was assaulted in high school, by some boy I [thought I] was buddies with. I was 17, he was maybe 16. After school one day, he and another boy followed me into the girls’ locker room. He came up to me from behind and held me and grabbed at my breasts. I elbowed him and yelled at him to stop, and he did. I cried all the way home on the school bus. Heh, no adult bothered to ask what was wrong.

    My mother and my aunt, who was over for dinner, saw immediately that I was upset and coerced the story out of me. Enraged, my aunt convinced my mother and me to call the police. Part of her influential story was that she had been raped and this is how you deal with criminals. Skipped the principal completely – go Aunt!

    The police came over and questioned me – kindly but firmly, I recall, although it was a man. I was scared that nothing would happen because I tried to punch one of the boys first – when he was entering the locker room, but pre-grope. (I never learned to throw a real punch, so it certainly didn’t scare them)

    The police went to the boy’s house, and made him call me to apologize. No further incidents that I know of.

    So, yes, I am part of that statistic and now I get it.

    Also, thanks for all your stories that prove I am not crazy; that breast-grabbing and bra-snapping were not just me being awkward and unpopular. Sad as it is – it happens to too many of us.

    P.S. Spinster aunts rule.

  147. tinfoil hattie

    Suspension? Stay home and play wii. How is not going to school a “punishment” for a seventh grader?

    Family counseling? So that particular dad can complain, “We’d ALL be arrested if…” to the counselor?

    How much counseling would they be forced to attend? Six weeks? How much money would those particular counselors be paid by the school system? Not their going rate, I bet.

    How about this: Make the little sociopaths clean a homeless shelter every day after school for 6 weeks. Or scrub away graffiti, or clean urine stains off public streets — something that shakes them out of their snotty little complacency and makes their lives unpleasant for several weeks. I know these suggestions aren’t really relevant to the crime, but I sure as hell wouldn’t want them near a battered women’s shelter or rape crisis center.

  148. Anony Mouse

    [quote](And I’d publicly demonstrated those skills once when a nasty little pest was teasing my eczema-covered younger sister. I grabbed his arms, swung him around my head several times and let him go. He never bothered either of us again.)[/quote]

    Is that physically possible? To swing someone around your head by the arms? Or was that sort of hyperbolic?

    Our middle school had all the groping nonsense; I’m all for punishing it harshly. Though ten years’ detention is only going to turn them into hardened antisocial cases. They are still kids and can be punished and taught never to do these things. In my day they did nothing, but now they are going too far in the other direction.

    In my work in public schools in recent years I have seen plenty of girls doing the butt-slapping thing, as well as other even more risque things, but (rightly so, I think) no one is going to be trying to put them in jail for it, or even reprimand it really. I say rightly so because there is a traditional power differential there, and their reasons for doing it might be partly an attempt to reclaim some of the power that is stolen from them when they’re humiliated by having their bras snapped or their breasts poked. So I don’t agree that girls would get a worse punishment; I’ve never seen them punished for such things at all. Which is really ok.

    I don’t know any grown men who get away with these things, at least not in the workplace, not for long, not if the woman is brave enough to report it. Admittedly, not all are, but if other women keep supporting them and encouraging them to report it to their employers, and stand by them, stand up for them throughout the process, it’s not many men who are going to get away with such raucous behavior in any workplace.

    Which brings me to a brief question, if this is appropriate. There is a woman at my workplace who is being bothered by a married man. He always follows her out and the other night he told her how much he likes her and actually reached into her car window to touch her hair. I know the owners (a married couple) would never tolerate this, but the woman doesn’t seem willing to report it, even though she’s a bit frightened. I will stand by her 100% and want to encourage her strongly to go right to the boss (I’ll go too) and tell him this can’t go on, but she’s not doing anything. Would it be at all right to tell the boss about it without mentioning names so that he and his wife can at least put a chilling effect on the whole thing by making some kind of announcement? Or would that be betraying her in some way? I’m at a loss.

  149. Ms Kate

    Tinfoil, when you can explain how throwing 13 year olds in jail will:

    1) Create young men who are other than precocciously and viciously mysogynist out of children who are rather commonly yet appallingly mysogynist
    2) Make the school systems responsible for themselves and formulate effective anti-harassment policies with teeth from kindergarten on up
    3) effectively address the problem at a societal level

    I will be willing to listen to your insistence that criminal prosecution or children is the answer.

    I’ve seen a whole bunch of reasons here why age-appropriate punishment is supposedly inneffective or perhaps just isn’t satisfying. I want to see some logical and reasoned arguments why sending these children through the criminal justice system WILL SOLVE ANY OF THE UNDERLYING PROBLEMS BEYOND OUR OUTRAGE at any personal, community, or societal level!

    I’ve made my case based on the concept that school systems have to be made legally responsible for their classroom and hallway environments and not just dump their problems on the legal system while the disease marches merrily along. It lets the administrators off the hook entirely, while lesser acts go unnoticed. I think the “jail ‘em” crowd has to make a case here beyond “but it ain’t enough to kick their asses out of school” (and revenge is not an acceptable argument as it does not address the root problems). Otherwise, it’s all about bitching and not about fixing.

    Then again if things were changed, we wouldn’t get to sit around and bitch about them, now would we.

  150. Ms Kate

    BTW, while I like the idea of them scrubbing up things, they have to have an enlightened adult oversee the process. My Grandmother was a high school custodian in Oregon at a magnet school for troubled teens and she was in charge of supervising “vandal school” – when they would take kids who vandalized things and make them fix or clean up the mess. For her it was a good time to beat the mysogyny out of more than a few of them as they needed HER help to complete the tasks or they got more ugly nasty messes to clean.

    Without somebody to break up the groupthink “it’s sooo unfair” an “I hate those bitches” here, it might just end up unifying them ala boot camp. Ditto for criminally prosecuting them.

  151. tinfoil hattie

    Ms. Kate, did you see me saying the kids should go to jail?

    Check your straw-assumptions at the door, please. Respond to the comment I made, not the one you wish I had made.

  152. Kali

    “I’ve seen a whole bunch of reasons here why age-appropriate punishment is supposedly inneffective or perhaps just isn’t satisfying.”

    Your suggestions for “age-appropriate” punishment are not sufficient deterrents. They are a joke, as tinfoil hattie has pointed out. Why don’t you address that?

    I like tinfoil hattie’s idea of supervised community service. A few weeks of cleaning toilets and streets for each reported butt-slap would make the idea of slapping butts somewhat less attractive. And this policy should be applied consistently and predictably.

  153. Kali

    BTW, you would still need the legal system to enforce community service. Or the brats could simply refuse.

  154. Kali

    “Tinfoil, when you can explain how throwing 13 year olds in jail will:

    1) Create young men who are other than precocciously and viciously mysogynist out of children who are rather commonly yet appallingly mysogynist
    2) Make the school systems responsible for themselves and formulate effective anti-harassment policies with teeth from kindergarten on up
    3) effectively address the problem at a societal level”

    Kate, if a 13 year old commits a rape or murder, would you be opposed to sending him to jail? What about a burglary or child molestation? If an adult man commits a rape or murder or burglary or embezzlement, would you be opposed to sending him to jail? Your objection that prison is not a reform institution and it does not effectively address the problem at a societal level applies to these cases too.

  155. zofia

    Did anyone catch the cover story in the NYT magazine last Sunday?
    http://www.nytimes.com/indexes/2007/07/21/magazine/index.html

  156. LouisaMayAlcott

    Well, at least they depicted the juvenile sex offender as a male.

  157. Kali

    Zofia, yes I did. I found the article and the language (e.g. whitewashing rape as “boundary problems”) really abhorrent. This is what normally happens in arguing for leniency for boys who commit rape and child molestation – their crimes get whitewashed. I had that article in mind when I responded to Kate, because she seems to be coming from the same place.

  158. tinfoil hattie

    I still maintain that having these precious boys clean up someone else’s most foul bodily excretions for several weeks is a suitable punishment, and staying home from school isn’t going to teach them a thing about how abhorrent their actions were.

    You know, have them do the work that we women do on a routine basis. (Mothers, adults taking care of aged parents, partners of incapacitated people, nurses, hospice workers, nursing home aides, etc.)

    BTW Kali, I have taken to signing my letters and e-mails “Kali.” For some reason it gives me great comfort. She is my idol!

  159. Urocyon

    Our school district has a hierarchy of disciplinary measures available for dealing with antisocial behavior.

    If a student disrupts the learning environment for his peers, the first “serious” measure (beyond a trip to the vice-principal) would be to move him to “In-School Suspension”.

    I think you are missing a crucial point which has repeatedly been mentioned here–that the type of behavior that is actually most “disruptive” to an institutional setting is uppity behavior. In pretty much any of the situations already described here in great detail, who do you think is really likely to end up being punished for being “disruptive”: the ass-grabbing morons, or the girls who yell and/or hit them in response?

    You mention “zero tolerance” policies; from what I have seen, I doubt the school only applies them to the possession of tobacco. I have seen plenty of trouble myself for being “disruptive” with blatant self-defense, and that was before such policies really started being adopted. Much like the mean-spirited “zero tolerance” subsidized housing policies that evict a woman* if someone attacks her at home, schools’ adoption of these ostensibly fair (to the hard of thinking) policies only encourages the victims to be as quiet as possible to avoid additional trouble coming down on their heads. This, as you should have noticed by now, is just an additional way for such institutions to enforce the bullshit dominance hierarchy. Lack of “tolerance” only applies if the behavior in question is not, in fact, ignored and tacitly encouraged every hour of every day.

    I can’t help but think that the built-in unfairness of such policies in this social climate would be obvious to anyone who isn’t privileged enough never to have been whacked down by the wrong end of that stick.

    * Make that “a poor woman who can’t afford to live elsewhere”, naturally.

  160. Kali

    “BTW Kali, I have taken to signing my letters and e-mails “Kali.” For some reason it gives me great comfort. She is my idol! ”

    Cool! She really is an extremely radical feminist.

  161. V.

    Re: Ms. Kate’s concern about why jailing the boys is not appropriate:

    It’s really not my concern.

    My concern is for the girls.

    See how easily the conversation can become all about the menz?

    Or, in this case, the boyz.

    And it’s interesting that the former school administrator could not see clear to a simple solution to the harassment-in-line scenario:

    Boys and girls line up separately. They are supervised as they walk between classes.

    In the lunch room, they sit at separate tables.

    One of the junior high schools I work at uses this method, so no arguments about how it can’t be implemented in the real world.

    Apologies if I am less that cogent. I plead root canal and percocet.

  162. justicewalks

    Seems to me that if the boys are doomed to remain raving misogynists whether or not they are imprisoned (I mean, obviously, they’re already misogynists, so sparing them a view from the other side of the jail bars won’t make feminists out of them), why not send them to jail just to keep them out of the girls’ hair?

    I wonder where this idea that incarceration should be rehabilitative came from anyway. Used to be that punishment was meant to be punitive, not therapeutic (though, in my opinion, punishment and therapy are not mutually exclusive).

  163. tinfoil hattie

    justicewalks! Nice to see ya ’round these parts.

  164. ismnotwasm

    The patriartical paradox in the way the article is written and presented is that the boys are considered the victims here. The poor males, facing “excessive” punishment, the female victims in the story gamely sticking up for them, the obligitory child “expert” tsk tsking. It’s a story that plays out in one form or another all over the world.

    The whole “ten years in prison” ain’t going to happen, but the media sure played it up didn’t it? The idea that unwanted sexual touching could be punished by more than a good-talking-to, with a couple of nods and winks, is shocking, abhorrent to the boys will be boys mind-set. I suppose there will be a backlash, some sort of new “zero tolerence” policy, perhaps a firing of a school official or two. In the end, nothing will change. A year or so, buttslapping day will be buttpinching fest, tit-grabbing week or skirt flipping Christmas holiday. Sad.

  165. justicewalks

    Hey! *waving at tinfoil hattie*

    I suppose there will be a backlash, some sort of new “zero tolerence” policy, perhaps a firing of a school official or two.

    Yes, all intended to show just how misguided it is to try to penalize the natural antics of boys:

    “See what you horrible anti-man(child) feminazis made us do??? We’ve had to fire a principle, spend X amount of (white, male, heterosexual, Christian) taxpayers’ dollars on politically correct sensitivity training (said with a sneer), and incarcerate X number of boys AND girls, since we can’t possibly allow intimate touching between girls (like hugging or something else innocuous) if we can’t let boys sexually assault them. So, now that we’ve tried it YOUR way, and it OBVIOUSLY didn’t work, we’ll go back to the natural way of things, in which girls run in terror and boys are boys.”

  166. Louise

    Reading this article made me realise what I missed out on by going to an all-girls school. I never got my bum slapped when I was 13, though even then I yearned for a boy to do it.

    And they’re actually planning to send these boys to prison for doing this? I mean, it’s not an April fool’s joke or something? unbelievable. Whatever is the world coming to?

    Louise

  167. Michelle

    I read this article, and many of the comments and I love it. And it made me furious.

    The boys in my middle school did the same thing, but I thought it was ok because of my raising. My dad used to smack my moms ass all the time, and she hated it, but then when she died, he started doing it to me (I was 9) and I hated it, but accepted it as a fact of life. He comes from a very conservative catholic family, and my grandma rarely had any say, so I’m not surprised by his actions looking back on them. Now at 20, after my rough years of high school, rock bottom self esteem, and an act of sexual assault on my person that no one believed, I’ve finally got an identity and got him to stop doing it. It came down to me yelling and screaming about it though. I told him never to touch me again if he was going to continue to disrespect me like that. And HE THOUGHT I WAS BEING UPTIGHT. He still doesn’t understand. I don’t let him touch me anymore though.

    And now, I’m new to being a feminist, and patriarchy, but my dad definitely is a victim of “its ok to objectify women”

    I congratulate all the women who stood up to their tormentors! I wish I had half the strength you did when I was younger.

  168. emjaybee

    For some reason that I cannot explain, my brain did not completely get the memo about letting boys do stuff to me. One jerk in 7th grade groped me, and I chased his ass and would have beaten him up if I’d caught him. He never bugged me again. And generally, I have never reacted to obvious harassment with anything but hostility. Not that it did me much good. Anyway, what I was trying to say is that this was simply my personality, and it could easily have been otherwise, and the plain fact is that many young girls will not stand up for themselves because they’re scared, or have absorbed sick messages about what it means to be desirable. So it’s up to the adults to teach them and to watch out for them. (and for boys getting beat up, etc etc). I have never understood any adult being cavalier about violence and harassment at school…after all, if you went to work and were mugged by a coworker for your lunch money, you could prosecute the bum. At school, it’s “just” bullying.

    Jail’s a bad idea for these boys because it won’t teach them anything good, and probably will teach them a lot of bad things; I don’t know why the school couldn’t find a more useful option that might actually have a chance of penetrating their tiny hormone-addled brains.

    My only kid is a sweet toddler boy, but undoubtedly the forces of the the patriarchy will try to shape him into a violent asshole; stories like this tell me what we’ll be up against.

  169. zofia

    I don’t know why the school couldn’t find a more useful option that might actually have a chance of penetrating their tiny hormone-addled brains.

    Ah yes, it’s just the hormones talking, the poor dears.

  170. emjaybee

    ai, zofia, I wasn’t making excuses for them. 13 year olds are hormone-addled, that’s why it’s hard to tell them anything. This does not give them an easy out.

    Or don’t you remember being 13?

    My point still stands; jail will make them worse, not teach them what they obviously need to know. They’re still young enough they can actually learn something, if someone would bother to teach them. Punishment is obviously something they need, but most prisons are criminal finishing schools, not places where much reforming is possible. So we punish them another way.

  171. Lexia

    There’s a case in the 9th Circuit that addressed this years ago, OONA V McCAFFREY. The briefs filed show so much of what that child had to go through to get even the partial justice she and her family won after many years of fighting.

    I don’t have the federal cite handy and haven’t checked how it’s been used in other court cases, but this site has the decision:
    http://tinyurl.com/3xnra7

    It’s so incredibly frustrating and infuriating to watch everything for women in the U.S. go backward. That particular case was decided in the girl’s favor by a three judge panel, with one boys-will-be-boys dissent. It’s chilling how much those crackpot (at the time) dissents, like Scalia’s in the 1996 decision forcing state-funded Virginia Military Academy to accept women, are becoming the law everywhere now. Oregon is part of the 9th circuit and supposedly bound by the decision in OONA, but sheer disregard for the law when inconvenient isn’t just confined to the Presidency, it’s a rot that’s been going on for years in the district courts.

    Also, aside from the usual awe and gratitude that Twisty and the Commentariat inspire, there’s a lot of evidence that the male owned, “sexism sells” media is the unstoppable force in all this. That seems to be where the attitude comes from most persuasively that those boys’ violent and demeaning behavior towards girls is A-OK. Even the law bends to it and eventually changes to accommodate it. The Duke sexual assault case was definitely parallel, although not in the way I’m sure the States*man*Journal meant it.

  172. Joanna

    My San Francisco Jr High in the seventies had a line down the middle of the playground, and the boys had to stay on one side and the girls on the other. Severe gym teachers with whistles walked patrol. We were allowed to fraternize in the halls and class, but they just kept us separated at lunch and recess. I used to think it was silly and medieval, but now I think it was their way of preventing this kind of behavior. I’m glad my daughter’s school doesn’t do this, but they also have an extremely active and vigilant staff presence in the halls, lunchroom and playground, publicly posted and enforced rules of conduct (keep your hands to yourself, etc), and a consistently enforced system of consequences for behavior issues. One thing I also like about the school is that when teachers observe bullying (including the girl-on-girl clique-ish and exclusionary stuff, they work with the kids and eventually the social worker; they don’t ignore it. One of the reasons I’m glad she is at the school is that the principal knows the name of every child and is in the hall every day keeping an eye on things and letting the kids know that he knows them. They bullying happens, but it does not go unobserved and kids who are experiencing bullying are given appropriate support in the school. I’m sure there’s a lot that gets by them, but the kids know what the expectations and consequences are.

  173. Kali

    “ai, zofia, I wasn’t making excuses for them. 13 year olds are hormone-addled, that’s why it’s hard to tell them anything. This does not give them an easy out.

    Or don’t you remember being 13?”

    Yes, I remember. I didn’t go around slapping butts or harrassing people. Pointing the finger at hormones is just another way of saying boys-will-be-boys.

  174. justicewalks

    Jail’s a bad idea for these boys because it won’t teach them anything good, and probably will teach them a lot of bad things

    Oh, right.

    But, see, I’d say sending them home to fathers who admit they’d be in jail themselves were they held to similar standards, or home to play whore-beating, car-stealing video games would have (has had?) similarly ill effects on the them as well. I’d even say that subjecting them to a all-too-terminable, and dismissable, sentence of “women’s work” could only solidify their desire never to sink to the level of “woman” again (as in, I’ll make sure the next bitch I assault doesn’t say a word to the “authorities”), from which universal male desire is where we got this whole masculinity bullshit to begin with.

    When they’re already tried and true misogynists, I can’t be worried about where boys might learn “a lot of bad things.” They’re already bad people. If we don’t have a way to make them good people as a class (and in the patriarchy, we don’t, in case there’s doubt; it’s the nature of the beast), then I can only concern myself with what might do some good for women and girls, male benefit be damned. If someone can come up with a plan, other than revolution, that will benefit both males and females to a degree that is equal in practice, not just theory, and in a manner that fully recognizes biological inequalities between the 2 classes, I’m all for it.

    In the meantime, if a disparity of goodness is all we can ever hope for, my vote’s for tipping the scale toward the women and girls every single time. Until (ie, only if anyone ever incites such a misguided and doomed revolution that) there are re-education camps for males, there isn’t anywhere you can send boys that won’t just affirm their misogyny. Jail isn’t any worse than the loving guidance of Rapist/Apologist Sr. so far as women, the class, are concerned. It would only be worse from the perspective of the criminally misogynist boys (yes, assault, even the sexy, I mean sexual kind, is a crime) and their sympathizers, which doesn’t do much to strike it as an option in my book.

    Which, you know, is all hypothetical anyway because these kids are never going to jail (not even when they’re gang-raping high school girls on video in 10 years). This is the patriarchy, for cryin’ out loud.

  175. Ms Kate

    Re: Ms. Kate’s concern about why jailing the boys is not appropriate:

    It’s really not my concern.

    My concern is for the girls.

    As is mine. I am also concerned for everyone else who gets caught up in the thinking that “it’s junior high” and “nothing can be done”.

    By letting administrators call the cops, they have, as it were, copped out. These people have created a hostile environment for girls, female staff, children of color, immigrants, etc. ONLY when things progress past a certain point does anything happen and then it’s jail? Do you think for one minute that any of this has created a better environment in that school for much “lesser” forms of harassment that go under the radar? Dream on.

    But, hey, if we demand that problems get addressed at the root level, we wouldn’t have such enjoyable things to sit around and bitch about.

  176. justicewalks

    But, hey, if we demand that problems get addressed at the root level, we wouldn’t have such enjoyable things to sit around and bitch about.

    I hope you’re not implying that taking the administration of that one particular school to task, which is what you’ve advocated, would amount to addressing the problem at the root level any more than calling the cops does. The root level is male supremacy, and appealing to male supremacist institutions, such as school administrations and cops, will do nothing to put an end to it.

    In this case, though, appealing to the cops at least has the benefit of being more punitive, which is appropriate, than a few days at home in front of a misogynist video game.

  177. Serendipity

    [quote=The NYT article]One mother I spoke to regretted not keeping quiet. When she discovered that her 11-year-old son had engaged in a sexual act with his younger sister (the mother wouldn’t specify the offense except to say that it did not involve penetration and no force was involved), she called a therapist. “I thought it was the right thing to do,” she told me. “I figured counseling would help.” She thought she knew how the law worked and that her son’s behavior might be reported to law enforcement. “But I thought: O.K., it will teach him a lesson. He’ll get a little probation, but his record will be sealed.” She didn’t realize that one year earlier her state had made children as young as 10 eligible for the state’s Internet sex-offender registry. Police entered her son’s DNA into a database. They took his fingerprints and mug shots. And they placed him on the state’s Web site. That’s where his photo and address have been for the past four years. [B]“I feel it was my fault,” the mother told me. “I did it.”[/B][/quote]

    Another article that focuses entirely on the suffering of the sex offenders, with some nice internalised blame from the mother, too.

  178. crowlie

    I remember being 13. I remember not having much interest in boys and having my nipple twisted very painfully in punishment by a boy who wanted me to back down over some thing.

    At the age of 37 I realised that I own my own body. Fuck those pricks. Fuck the metaphorical horses they rode in on.

    Twisty, you are so right. A neanderthal circus training little rapists to become big nasty rapists who hate women. Why don’t they all simply get themselves fixed so they won’t feel any urges?

  179. Lara

    Delphyne asked this a looong way back on this response thread:
    “Are there any women who escaped the experience of being groped at school? I’m imagining that the only way to escape the barrage of sexual assault would be to attend an all-girls school.”

    I am one of those girls. I was groped, fondled, and pinched by a classmate in eighth grade multiple times each consecutive day of one week, all during French class. Nobody noticed (and frankly no one would care). When I read stories like this the only thing I can do is not only feel broken inside, but feel like I am being sexually abused all over again, by the people who claim these boys’ behavior is ok. I have really been wanting to speak out publicly against the way these boys have been defended and made into heroes, to relate what sexual abuse on school campuses does to girls, but I do not know who to contact or how to network to make that happen. I am sick and tired of the way girls and women are silenced to not speak out against the constant invasion and disrespect of their humanity and their bodies. I live in the Washington D.C. area. Does anyone know of who I can contact to network and effectively speak out against this?
    Anyway, Twisty I am glad you made a post about this because it was so depressing seeing the way the media BSed with things to make the boys and their behavior look “harmless” while not asking the female victims of their “horseplay” what effect it had on them, the humiliation or pain they felt. I can imagine….

  180. Sarah Z

    NorthWest Cable News just reported that the poor Oregon boys won’t be charged with felony sexual assault. The heavily biased report (why do I listen to mainstream media?) was happy to report that they are only being charged with sexual harassment, and their lawyers are hoping those charges will be dropped as well. One of the victims (but by no means all of the victims, as the report didn’t mention) was at the courthouse supporting the boys, so there obviously was never a actual problem.

    The boys’ supporters said things like “they clearly weren’t guilty of sexual assault”. Yes, grabbing breasts and slapping asses is assault, you just think it’s acceptable. NWCN, if you’re going to be biased, at least give the real reason.

  181. Amy

    I was once grabbed by two boys and forced into the backstage area of our auditorium. It was completely dark there, and they began assaulting me by putting their hands up my shirt and between my legs. I physically fought them off. I did not tell anyone.

    Also, I was once walking through a “haunted house” at Halloween time. Do you know that place in the haunted house that they always have–it’s completely dark, without a crack of light anywhere? One of the “workers” of the haunted house assaulted me in much the same manner. I felled him with a punch to the nuts. I did not tell anyone.

    I admit to a sense of smug satisfaction, reading about the harsh punishment of these teenage rapists in training. Is it the proper punishment? Probably not. Even though a victim was defending them, there are others who are happy they are gone.

  182. DonnieRay

    When I was in 5th grade, after school waiting on the bus, I was hanging out with a girl. She pushed me and I pushed her back. That is all I remember of the incident…a few minutes later we got on the bus.

    The next day, I was called to the principal’s office. The little girl’s mother had complained that I had molested her daughter. The claim was that I had pushed the girl into a re-entrant building corner and had repeatedly groped her breasts (even though at eleven she had no breasts…a situation that didn’t change later in life).

    Complicating my situation was the girl’s best friend offering witness testimony saying that she had seen me grope the girl. However, I maintained my innocence. The principal (knowing that I was a good kid) listened when I pointed out an inconsistency in their stories, and upon further questioning, the best friend admitted that she lied. I recieved vindication.

    Honestly, when I pushed her back, I may have glanced against her chest… I don’t know because as a little boy my thought was just to push back when pushed. But somehow that turned into her telling her mother and the mother (along with a best friend’s lies) alleging I had forcefully groped and fondled someone.

    What you need to remember is that there are many allegations that are lies… I can attest to it. Maybe its because of women’s lack of power in society, that some feel that they must play a victim to gain power.

    One more point, everyone is talking about this as if a child hitting another child on the butt is sexual…it’s not. If an adult did that, yes, it would be sexual. Boy are spanked (much more than girls and primarily by their mothers) as a punishment. I would agree that it is a form of dominance, and should be stopped.

    But, if these little boys go to jail for mimicking something that is done to them by their parents…I think I need to press charges on that girl that lied about me so many years ago. Seems like she might have put a decade (1/3) of my life a risk by her little power-grab stunt.

  183. Princess Rot

    Very late to the thread, long-time lurker/short-time blamer and all, but I must share. When I was thirteen, a random boy pupil at my school thought it would be mighty good fun to twist my nipples as I walked through the corridor, minding my own beeswax. I don’t recall his face as such, just the laughing, mocking grin and the hilarity my degradation brought. I remember feeling a burning anger that this pernicious little turd thought he was funny, and his joke was at my expense. I can’t remember if I’d had a bad day or not at the time, but I was bullied (by girls and boys) for being the “spazz”, who was so far outside of the “in” crowd it defied belief. (By that I mean I am clever, got on with my work, didn’t care much for my appearance – I still don’t – and didn’t see a reefer and a grope behind the bike sheds something I had to experience.)

    Before I’d really thought about it, I’d smacked the little pig up the snout with the heel of my hand. I can still hear a sharp crack, and I can still feel the cartilage of his snozz bend and break. Gushing blood, he went crying to the (male) principal and I received a nice patriarchal finger-wagging to the effect of: “you shouldn’t have let him provoke you” and that timeless old classic “boys will be boys”. As if I’d fucking tempted him to grab just by being there, as if I’d wanted him to humiliate me in front of lard-knows how many other students, as if I thought having my nipples pulled by some random monkey-chump was really, hilariously, funny.

    I was duly suspended for a week for my ‘infraction’ and his parents had words with my carer, etc. To the best of my knowledge, he wasn’t formally punished. I doubt his parents did anything, as I saw him smacking the butt of another girl a few weeks later, though I decided not to get involved in that case as I didn’t want any more shit.

    I couldn’t have put reasoned words, at thirteen, to what *really* got my goat about the whole thing. It wasn’t the humiliation, or even the principal’s dismissal (though they did irritate me). I know now – that I can describe what at the time seemed to be just a feeling of universal unfairness – it was the fact everyone thought it was acceptable for him to behave in that manner. My reaction was considered somehow deeply wrong, that I shouldn’t have punished the little shit for his bullying, that I shouldn’t have acted out my anger, but it was okay for him to enact his childish version of dominance out on me.

    My view now, of course, is jaundiced by the knowledge that male priviledge exists on every level, and in every sphere of life. I only wish I’d known of blaming sooner. The lanky, awkward thirteen year old has become a lankier, awkward twenty year old with a degree, a jaded eye, and one other thing: I now blame the fucking patriarchy.

    Peace, Twist. Long live the revolution!

  184. Rididill

    I know this is like, years later but this really annoyed me.

    ‘But, hey, if we demand that problems get addressed at the root level, we wouldn’t have such enjoyable things to sit around and bitch about.’

    Really, Kate S, really? You like oppression because it means you get to complain? Which you’ve actually said in two of your comments.

    You may be that pathetic but some of us actually want liberation, so please don’t tar us with the same brush. Honestly this whole ‘you feminists just love getting mad about stuff’ trope is not something I would expect to see here.

  1. Voices Of The Feminist Blogosphere | Elaine Vigneault’s Diary

    [...] The big word user over at I Blame The Patriarchy is quite possibly the blogger most adept at identifying ironic misogyny, or at least the most adept at pointing it out in a funny-sad way: “As the father of one of the jailed ‘McMinnville Two’ whined, ‘We’d all be in jail if everyone got arrested for this kind of stuff.’ Too true, Mr. Redneck, too true. Everybody hates women; why, it would be insane to criminalize patriarchy. Which is essentially the argument in favor of defining the efforts of pubescent boys to forcibly dominate pubescent girls as ‘horseplay.’ How can it be antisocial when all of society condones it? [...]

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