powerless

Deanna Alvarado

I like to believe I am a very vibrant human being. I believe in the word and action ‘excelsior’, or taking all the negativity and turning it into fuel to find the positivity; to find a silver lining. However, it is an extremely tedious task when there is a population of boys- (I refuse to call them men) who feel for some unknown reason, that they are entitled to my space. That they have this privilege to not only stare at woman like they are meat and nothing more, but to open their degrading and disrespectful mouths and yell out derogatory statements. A vibrant person should have the right to walk 3 classrooms down and heat up her lunch and feel safe in practicing that right. But instead I sit in a classroom with little to no people eating cold spaghetti because I feel powerless and small when I do it. When I walk to the microwave I get told to rest my backside against the wall so the people behind me will stop staring at my ass. And when I turn to look, see an entire group of boys staring at me like an object. Or today, April 18, 2017, I walked out of my classroom and a boy gestured at me and nonchalantly told his friend “that bitch has a fat ass.” I responded with “my name is Deanna not bitch” but even so it was beyond infuriating and made me want to punch him in the face because I know the pain of my fist would not be nearly as painful as what he said was. It was an unparalleled frustration. I left the room shaking in fury and saw my friend David who I have even more respect for because of the amount of respect he has for woman. I told David what I thought and felt about him in that moment, “David, you respect woman so much and I know it’s a really prevalent quality in your personality and I just want you to know I respect and appreciate that.” I praised him for it. Then it hit me, I praised a man for doing something all men should do everyday, all day. Respect woman. Not make the vibrancy dissipate because they were never taught to speak. Not make them feel powerless. Not make them think it’s their fault for wearing leans too tight, or a tank top in 80 degree weather. Not make them run to their next class with a red hot face full of tears. Not allow her to walk to and from class or heat up her lunch without being sexually harassed. When I spoke about this hours later I was told by David that maybe I “should have a guy heat up my food instead next time.” I was told by my mom to “heat up my lunch before leaving for school in the morning because it’ll be cold but not as cold and you won’t have to deal with all that.”

Cheryl

My sister and I were standing in the driveway when a truck full of construction workers passed us and one yelled out of the window “Hey, how’s it going”. I know it isn’t necessarily a rude thing to say, but the circumstance, me being seventeen years old and my sister being thirteen, was disgusting. We obviously were not going to start chit-chatting, he was catcalling two minors who both look our proper age, if not younger.

13 yo girl, feeling helpless

In art last year, a boy in my class started lifting my skirt up. I told him to stop. He ignored me and continued. I asked him again and he still carried on doing it. After me telling him “stop” twice more he briefly touched my bum. His friends were laughing. I (stupidly) left the room crying as I felt so powerless and was unable to stop it. Now he always makes jokes about it, calling it “sexual attractions” and saying he “tripped”. I’m now really stressed out and paranoid about it happening again, never mind him joking about it constantly. I feel like an idiot for crying.

M

I went to uni at 18 and chose to attend the same university that my brother had, whilst he studied in America. In ‘freshers week’ my brother’s rugby ‘friends’ tried it on and I went home with a 3rd year, 1st team rugby player. I later learnt that he had given graphic details of the nights we spent together at rugby socials. He apparently gained extra credit for my fresher and sibling status. Soon after this I was called by my brother to proofread one of his essays. Directing me to open his emails, I sat in halls and opened the inbox to be greeted with an email from this man to my brother entitled… I met your sister. I opened the email to read an account of his nights with me (all true) followed by ‘only joking mate, I’d never do that to you.’ I eventually had to tell my brother and deal with comments about my promiscuity from the rugby team. I had two sexual partners at university – this man and my now husband. The guilt I felt for humiliating my brother and the lack of respect this man showed to me was very damaging. I have only now, 10 years on and married to a wonderful feminist, forgiven myself.