Verbal Harassment MAG

November 4, 2016
By ATroubledWriter GOLD, Pace, Florida
ATroubledWriter GOLD, Pace, Florida
19 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
“The words you can’t find, you borrow. We read to know we’re not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone. We are not alone. My life is in these books, he wants to tell her. Read these and know my heart. We are not quite novels. The analogy he is looking for is almost there. We are not quite short stories. At this point, his life is seeming closest to that. In the end, we are collected works.” ― Gabrielle Zevin, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

I wasn’t sure I wanted to write this. When words are written they are read, and if they are read, it makes everything seem real. I am writing this though, because I feel strongly about it.

I should probably start off with this: I have an affinity for poems. Haiku, free-verse, slam poetry. Often times I like to listen to political and social slam poems because they provide creative insight on a serious topic. Specifically, I have become intrigued by slam poems about women receiving verbal harassment.

Most poems center around the first time someone was cat-called, verbally or sexually harassed; It seems to happen at a frighteningly young age and that a majority of girls have experienced it. At the time, I was one who had not. For that, I was extremely grateful.

However, just a few weeks ago at my high school, I was early one morning and wanted to work on a digital imaging project I hadn’t finished yet. It wasn’t due for another week, but visiting with my art teacher is fun, so I decided to go.

Now, just a heads-up, I don’t consider myself to be one of the types to get a boy’s attention. I’m awkward, shy, and anxiety-ridden, but granted, I was alone that day.

It was still pretty early when I finished working on my project, but the buses were starting to roll in, and I knew my friends would be coming soon. I bid my teacher a farewell and left the art room. I wanted to get where I was going before everyone came into the building – maneuvering around high school kids with backpacks filled with half their body-weight in books is not an easy feat.

There was no one else in the courtyard except two boys walking together ahead of me. I was walking fast, and I ended up passing them.

Immediately, the boy on the right said to his friend, “Hey, I bet she’ll call you daddy.”

At first, I tried convincing myself that they were talking about someone else. But then, laughing, the one on the left joined in, yelling, “Hey! Call me daddy!”

I sped up, my face undoubtedly turning red with embarrassment. I didn’t know these boys. I still don’t.

I was almost at the door when he yelled again, this time much louder, “Hey, look at me when I’m talking to you!”

His friend laughed, and almost instantly afterward I was in the main building. Like I predicted, many students were coming in from their buses. I noticed my friends standing where we usually met and made my way over to them. I can’t remember if I told them what happened.

At first I didn’t recognize the incident as verbal harassment. I told myself that I should stop being so sensitive. They were just being boys.

That was the moment I knew I had been verbally harassed.

They were just being boys.

I was just being a girl. A girl who left her art classroom happy and had her morning ruined. It was wrong of me to excuse them and say they were just being boys. I have friends who are boys and would never do what those two did.

I wanted to know why they did it and why I felt too afraid to respond. What drove them to call out to me like that, even after it was clear that it made me uncomfortable? In that moment – and all the moments since –  I imagine they gave no thought to their words and actions. They just did it for fun.

Those boys are nameless and faceless, and I will probably never meet them again, but I will remember their words and their actions forever.

Now I can write my own slam poem, and the first words will be:

“I was sixteen the first time I was verbally harassed.”

And that … is just sad.

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