Preschool I was called over to the corner of the playground where the teachers couldn’t see. Two slightly older boys took turns flashing me. I was shocked and frozen to the spot until a teacher came and dragged us all away. Junior high • A male teacher asked if I was going to join the running club, and said I should because I had “nice, long legs.” High school • A story came out the newspaper about how a prominent football player at the school had been accused of raping a girl. I knew him, and had been classmates with his younger brother at the private school where we’d all attended junior high. I watched boys joke around and laugh with the younger brother about the incident. I also watched numerous employees and families from my old school and church defend the older brother and say things like, “It’s not true. He didn’t do it.” They never mentioned the girl at all, but were victim-blaming by being rape-apologists. It was the first time I’d witnessed this, and it certainly affected my thoughts regarding rape, the Christian community, athletes and their privilege, and later, the act coming forward as a rape victim. • I was talking to my friend at her locker when a boy we knew came up behind me and mimed humping me. • In biology, a boy passed me a note suggesting we play the question game. I said okay. His questions were things like, “What size is your bra?” and “How far have you gone with a guy?” There was nothing I really wanted to ask him, but I answered his questions anyway. • My chemistry teacher was the cross country coach, very young and fit and pretty. Once a week was Lecture Day, and she’d spend the entire period at the front of class talking. I sat in the back row next a boy who would always masturbate during Lecture Day. I made eye contact with him once while he was doing it, and he just looked at me like, “What’s the big deal??” I felt embarrassed, but even more so for my teacher, who never knew it was going on. Since then, I have become a teacher myself, and this incident continues to haunt me. • I had French class with this one boy and since our previous classes were near each other, we often walked together. Once, walking through a crowded hallway, he put his fingers down the back of my pants. He said he was just trying to hold on to me so he wouldn’t lose me. I was shaken and don’t remember anything about my next classes except frantically biting my fingernails. It happened again in the following days, until finally I grabbed his arm, yanking his fingers out of my pants, and I pushed him away. He acted as though he didn’t know what he’d done wrong and I had no reason to be upset. • My high school boyfriend would sometimes whip his penis out in stairwells at school or on the school bus, expecting me to give him a hand-job. I did, because I thought I had to since I was his girlfriend. I didn’t like doing it in public though. • When I was a junior, a couple of senior guys catcalled me on the way to class and I ignored them. They treated me like I was uptight and cruel for the rest of the semester. • Once, during class, a couple of guys told me I had “DSL.” When I asked what that was, they said, “Dick-sucking lips.” • At lunch one time, I added a packet of flavor powder to my water bottle and began to shake it. My lunch table, all boys, erupted into laughter. One of the boys, my boyfriend, told me that the way I was shaking the bottle looked like I was giving a hand-job. I didn’t know any other way to shake a bottle. • At homecoming, I was approached by a boy who asked to dance with me. I started grinding on him, because that’s how everyone was dancing. I could feel him getting a hard-on and he groped me while we danced. I didn’t make a big deal about it because I figured that was what would happen when you danced like that. • Once, while talking to my crush, a couple of his friends who were sitting nearby started talking about my breasts and looking through a water bottle at them, to magnify my cleavage, I guess. I heard, “You can always see them.” It made me feel embarrassed because I was very obviously within earshot. My crush didn’t make any indication that he’d heard or cared. • The summer after high school, I lost my virginity when I was raped by a guy with whom I’d been on a date and was friends. Afterwards he told me not to tell anyone. A few days later, I saw on Facebook that he’d started dating another girl. I was in denial about what happened and victim-blamed myself; it took me awhile to understand that I’d actually been raped. The next several months were very traumatic for me, characterized by feelings of guilt, anxiety, depression, disordered eating, insomnia, and even self-harm. Later I found out that I wasn’t the only one he’d raped or sexually assaulted. I talked to his high school girlfriend, and she encouraged me to go to the police like she had. Unfortunately, we both went too late for rape kits to be collected, and they only had our testimonies. I didn’t think we stood a chance if it came to our word against his, especially since he’d been a football player in high school and was known in the community. I didn’t want to endure the strain of a trial, and I didn’t want my family to have to either—especially because I didn’t tell them about what happened. They still don’t know. University • Told by an athlete, “Let’s see you smile!” as I was walking to class. • A group of fraternity guys were tabling outside the Student Union and shouted at me to ask if I wanted to buy tickets to some function. I ignored them, so they continued to shout at me, saying things like, “Are you depressed? Why are you so sad?” while laughing. • At a bar near campus, a guy approached me and said something about how I was pretty but he wanted to see me smile. He placed his hand on my thigh as he said so. I told him firmly, “Don’t touch me.” He put his hand on my thigh again as he leaned in to ask, “Sorry, what did you say?” I repeated myself even more forcefully: “Don’t touch me.” He pulled a face and threw up him hands in an exaggerated “my bad” gesture and walked away, like he was the injured party and I was humorless and uptight. • When I was studying abroad in Madrid, I went out one night to a nightclub with my friends. We got separated, so I decided to walk home alone, even though I was terribly drunk and had already been sick in the bathroom. As I was walking down the sidewalk, I was approached by an older man. He grabbed my butt as he passed me and whispered “guapa” in my ear. I kept going and tried not to think about it, but he must’ve circled around the block, because I saw him again and he repeated his previous actions. I didn’t like that it happened (not to mention twice), but I was relieved that I got home safely and nothing more had occurred. I told myself that it could’ve been much worse. • In my Masters program (for secondary education), we were having group discussions. A question was posed: “Are boys and girls educated differently?” I was in a group with 3 men—2 of whom specialized in STEM subjects—and after I gave my opinion, they admitted that they’d never considered that girls might be educated differently. They were like, “Huh.” At least they started thinking about this before becoming licensed teachers. In the Church • As a member of a non-denominational youth group at a church in the Bible Belt, I once sat through a horribly sexist sermon. The pastor put items on a table at the front; among them were nail polish, a football helmet, an iron, and a Barbie doll. He invited two volunteers—a boy and a girl—to come up and divide the items into the categories of “boy” and “girl,” while the audience was allowed to shout out their suggestions. Of course, the football helmet went to the “boy” side of the table, and the nail polish, the Barbie, and the iron went to the “girl” side. That was the first time I started having second thoughts about the Church. • As a senior in high school, I went to my church’s fall retreat. Prior to the trip, we girls were made aware of the unofficial dress code by female youth leaders. We couldn’t wear “those kind of shorts that show your underwear” (they were referring to Nike running shorts, which have liners); we’d have to wear leggings or long spandex shorts under any short shorts we wanted to wear. Bathing suits had to be one-pieces or tankinis, and if we wore bikinis, we’d have to wear non-white shirts over them. It was so weirdly specific. We were told that classic church cliche, that we had to protect the boys’ hearts and minds. “The retreat is for them too,” one youth leader said. But not for us girls? I thought. We don’t get to relax. Instead we have to be on guard 24/7. A lot of the time, this is what it’s like to be a woman or girl in the Church. You come in second to the men and boys. While biking • I was with a friend and we saw a two male cyclists riding towards us on the trail. My friend was about to greet them (as she does with everyone when she’s biking) when they wolf-whistled at us. So instead, we flipped them off. • Another time, while biking with the same friend, she was almost run off the road when two male cyclists rode towards us. One was in our lane and refused to move over, even though there was no way he didn’t see us. We both stopped, because she was stunned; I was mad, though. “Dude, what the heck,” I yelled, while raising my arms in confusion. Both male cyclists ignored me and kept riding. • I was making my way home after a ride when an older man sitting on his porch shouted sexual comments about my body (specifically my butt and legs) at me. It left me embarrassed, scared, and angry—enough to diminish all my feelings of accomplishment following a 20-mile ride. At work • In college I worked at a fast food restaurant. Men (much older than me) who worked in the kitchen would make disgusting sexual and sexist comments about me. Often I and/or my managers were within earshot. I could’ve complained or called HR, but I knew that because of the industry I was in, my complaints would’ve been futile. • I worked for a salsa company for a short time and occasionally served samples at my local Whole Foods. Once, while sampling a cranberry-orange salsa, I got mansplained by a guy who asked, “Is this really a salsa though? I feel like at a certain point it’s just a fruit spread.” Here, I felt stuck because the first rule of retail is The Customer Is Always Right, but I also wanted to defend the product. So I said politely, “Well, the first ingredient listed is tomatoes, and it also contains chili powder, red peppers, and jalapenos.” He responded, “Yeah, but is it really a salsa?” I told him, “It says ‘salsa’ on the label…” He said, “Yeah, but I feel like there’s only so many ways to make salsa,” before walking away. I should point out that this guy was a gringo—white. And I’m part Mexican. I know salsa. At the gynecologist • I’d heard the “born-again virgin” message plenty from the Church, and while I didn’t necessarily love the Christian ideology behind it, I liked that the concept was shared in other circles and communities. It seemed very feminist and empowering, for women and survivors of all genders, not to have to claim their rape as a meaningful part of their sex life or history. I liked the fact that it didn’t have to matter. Except it does, as I found out the first time I went to the gynecologist and had to fill out forms, listing the number of sexual partners I’d had and the age at which I’d become sexually active. As much as you might like to, you can’t ever really forget, or deny, the non-consensual sex to which you were subjected. You’re forced to remember and acknowledge it, and if you’ve been trying to forget it, you’re made to feel like you bought into a lie. • I’m queer and have sex with men and women. The last time I was at the gyno, the (female) doctor asked me, “When was the last time you had sex?” After a moment of hesitation from both of us, she followed with, “Or rather, the last time you were penetrated with a penis?” It was very blunt and it felt like an insult to who I am and to queer woman/folks everywhere, as though the ways we have sex aren’t valid. Double discrimination • I stopped telling people I was “bi” because all too often it resulted in men assuming things about me or thinking far too much about my sex life. Once, my then-boyfriend told one of his friends that I was bi. The friend just looked at me for a moment before exclaiming, “What are you doing with him then?!” I felt like responding that the definition of “bi” implies that I can be with a man or woman, but I didn’t say anything. A lot of people think that bisexual women are promiscuous, or they idealize us and imagine that we’re constantly having sex with really hot women (our friends) or having threesomes (two women, one man, of course). That’s how it’s portrayed in shows and movies and porn, anyway. I didn’t like constantly having to explain my sexual orientation or, when I was in a relationship, justifying my choice of partner. If I have a partner, I’m loyal to them. Does anything else really matter? Should anything about our relationship matter to anyone besides us? No. • When I was at a party in college, I started kissing this girl I liked. These frat guys came over and saw us, and they started hooting and shouting and trying to film us on their phones. I flipped them off, because it wasn’t a show for them. • Once, I was at a pool party and this guy I didn’t know kept trying to hit on me and put his arm around me. There were some girls (who I knew were gay) on the other side of the pool, so I swam over to them, hoping the guy would get the hint. Later, when I was kissing one of the girls, he came over and said, “Ugh, can you guys stop being so hot?” The girl I was with replied, “Nope!” • I was at a bar with a guy friend and we were waiting to order. The bartender was a really gorgeous Asian girl and I mentioned to my friend, “She’s really pretty!” My friend thought I was hinting at him (I wasn’t) and said, “Chinky girls don’t do it for me.” I was appalled; for one, because of his use of a slur, and for two, because I am part Filipino. I told him, “I’m Asian,” and he responded, “No, you’re not.” I was even more shocked, and we argued like this (“Yes, I am.” “No, you’re not.”) for maybe 30 seconds. Finally he said, “You’re cute, but I’m just not into chinky girls.” I was insulted and angered. It’s not “just a preference” when it’s racist, and telling a woman that she doesn’t know her own ethnicity and culture is mansplaining at its worst. • I speak Spanish and French—it’s part of my heritage. Usually when guys discover this, though, they’re like, “Ooh, you should teach me [Spanish/French]” or “We should hang out so I can practice with you.” Like, no, I’m not here so you can profit from my culture. Tinder • In Spain, a guy messaged me, “Hola, te apetece un poco de sexo conmigo?” Right off the bat. • A guy messaged me on Facebook, saying that he saw me on Tinder and was messaging me on Facebook on the off chance that we didn’t match. Dude. If we don’t match, that should tell you something. • A guy messaged me a Harry Potter pickup line. I responded with, “Harry Potter’s the way to my heart tbh.” He replied, “So let’s fuck.” I sent back, “*disapparates*”. (One of my better comebacks.) • A guy messaged me with the pickup line, “Hey, I’ll treat you like a Christmas snowstorm, I’ll give you 7 and a half inches and make it mildly inconvenient for you to move in the morning.” Um, ouch. • A guy messaged me, “You’re bi? I asked, “What does it matter?” He said, “It doesn’t.” (…So why ask then?) • A guy messaged me, “Although you have a cat in your pic I’m willing to look past that if you’re willing to look past the fact that I don’t like cats.” I didn’t reply, and a day later he said, “So I’m gonna be honest… I swiped right cause I want someone to practice Spanish w/ and I’m down to learn french [sic].” • I had in my bio (among other sentences perhaps too articulate for Tinder), “I speak Spanish and French.” So many guys messaged me to ask, “So do you speak English too?” Like, clearly I’m smart, so they have to dumb me down a little bit. • Once, my bio said something like, “Only here for free beer.” A guy messaged me to say, “I can give you free gum.” I replied, “I have gum.” So he sent back, “I can give you a hard dick and cheerios.” • I added a guy from Tinder on Snapchat. We didn’t live in the same country and hadn’t even spoken on either app in ages. One day I got a snap from him and opened it to see a picture of his penis ejaculating. I blocked him immediately, but still felt gross and violated afterward. Tumblr • I posted a picture of myself in a bra on my blog. A guy I knew in real life happened to be following me and took a screenshot, then posted it on his Twitter along with some sort of snarky comment. I heard about it from friends who saw the post. I wasn’t ashamed about the picture; I was ashamed because he’d done it without my knowledge or consent. • I posted a GIF of myself sticking out my tongue. A guy reblogged it with the comment, “I want to come in your mouth.” I blocked him, and deleted the GIF too. The whole thing made me feel disgusted and disgusting.