Wednesday, December 19

Hot Topic

Like Bev, my current events knowledge is sketchy at best. My eighteen year old helps me vote on the issues and the candidates because he loves political science and keeps track of those things. I, on the other hand, like to write. Beside's reading, writing is the only other thing I really do. (Except watch House, but that's another blog)

So I never really paid much attention when the big story in these parts and nationally, was those two boys from McMinnville, Oregon who were in a world of trouble (facing permanent expulsion from school and sexual harassment charges) for slapping girls' fannies as they went by in the hallway at school. Now, I knew about the case mostly because of the age of the kids... these boys were in middle school... no older than thirteen. There were lots of opinions, but most everyone agreed that though the deed should be punished, years in juvenile detention was a bit much for kids who had never been in any kind of trouble before. The kids were punished, but (as I recall) the criminal charges were dropped. Bet they'll never slap another girl's fanny as long as they live. In fact, I would have thought, given the attention to the case in our area, that no one in Oregon would be slapping a strange girls fanny.

I was wrong.

This past week my daughter was at a wrestling match helping out as a mat girl.
She was keeping score (that's what mat girls do) when all of a sudden someone slapped her on the fanny. Hard. She turned, expecting one of her girlfriends/fellow mat girls. She was a bit annoyed because she was working. Instead of another mat girl, she looked into the smirk of a wrestler from another school. Someone she had never met before. He raised his eyebrows and gave her his best come-hither look, which pretty much meant creeper to my daughter. She handed another girl her score sheets and went to find her school's coach. Luckily, she found him at the same time she found the varsity wrestling team, otherwise things might have gotten ugly. The coach kept his boys under control and found the slapper's coach. An apology ensued.

But my daughter will never forget how she felt. Kind of like a peice of meat hanging on a hook. Violated.

I remember that feeling from my teen years... how a boy could make you feel cheap because of a nasty comment, a leer, or crude gesture. Slapping girls on the fanny was pretty common during the late seventies/early eighties and the term sexual harassment was just being bandied about. If you haven't watched the movie, North Country, you should. It's based on a true story about sexual harassment in the work place.

We've come a long way since the seventies/eighties... but we obviously have a long way to go. If all the coverage surrounding the McMinnville case didn't put the fear of God in young men regarding touching strange girls fannies, what will? These kid's lives were disrupted for months--both the boys in question and the girls who were slapped. So what do you think it's going to take to get this kind of behavior stopped? Do you remember a time when a guy made you feel cheap?


Aimlesswriter said...

Punishment should fit the crime. Juvey for a fanny slap? Ridiculas, but they needed --something to impress upon them the impact of what they did and how it made others feel.
I once worked at a place where a guy snapped my bra strap-I turned around and whapped two quick punches to his chest and arm--hard. He was shocked and never bothered me again. (He didn't know I was a blackbelt-too bad for him!) I was going to go for his face but I pulled it at the last second because I thought leaving a mark might get me fired.
Remember when women used to slap men's faces for such stuff? Those were the good old days.
Good for your daughter-she did the right thing!

Erica Orloff said...

Gosh, this topic can make me crazy. As a feminist, I just HATE hearing stuff like what happened to your daughter. I was sexually harassed by a 40+ year-old man at my first job when I was 15, and people acted like that was fine . . . it was a long time ago, and sexual harassment wasn't even part of our country's dialogue. Secretaries, for instance, were often depicted in movies as these bimbos who wore tight skirts and could barely type--whatever. Boys routinely behaved like pigs--and when I had my first boyfriend . . . one of the biggest guys in the whole school, well-built, huge, and so on . . . it was amazing how all that crap stopped.

On the flip side, I have an adolescent son, and I could see how a slapping game might get out of hand and I would hate to think he would be hauled off in handcuffs for something, at age 12, he didn't fully understand the ramifications of.

I think punishment fitting the crime is important. I also know that, no matter what happens, there will be jerks . . . and very often, I hate to say it, but the apple won't fall far from the tree. Respect needs to be taught at home . . . my kids know I am a Buddhist and know that being kind to your fellow man is the standard I hold them to.


Jenny Meyerhoff said...

Good for your daughter for going to the coach right away!

I don't know if I would have told when I was that age. Terrible, huh? But I remember feeling so embarrassed when that kind of stuff happened to me, that I didn't want anyone to know about it.

I think it would be great to aim for a time when every girl felt so comfortable standing up for herself!

Jessica Burkhart said...

That was really brave of your daughter. Like Jenny said, I don't know if I would have had the courage to tell.

Anonymous said...

We still need to slap the men and the boys back. Sometimes that is the appropriate action beside "telling" on them. Sexual harassment will always be with us. Even my 20 something sons are sexually harassed by women, but that is never acknowledge or mentioned. Some of the shows on television are blatant sexual harassment on men. Men cover it up by saying it makes them look good or some such nonsense. My sons are genuinely embarrassed by it.

Megan said...

A guy snapped my bra strap once (I was like in seventh grade), and I basically flipped out and screamed at him and then walked away. Then I vented about it and had someone deliver him a very angry note along the lines of "How dare you!" I believe his response was basically, "What's the big deal?" Even some other girls told me I made too big of a deal out of it. I don't really think it matters. It's MY bra strap, and if I want to make a big deal about it, I can.

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