I had a great bunch of friends in high school. We were quite mature for our age, I think, and our school was way ahead of its time. I mean, in 1994 we were being taught that being gay is okay.
We’d hang out by a sunny spot we’d claimed at lunchtime and talk about everything, from music and computer games to sex and what we thought life meant. I felt I could talk to this bunch of guys about whatever – but somehow, though, I was too reticent to talk about one thing.
There was a girl. She was quite pretty and flirty and ample breasted. She wore short skirts and tight shirts. She walked with a sway and I had an crush on her, so did my friends. I don’t quite remember how it first happened but somehow, it became okay for my bunch of friends to descend on her en masse and grab her breasts, legs, basically wherever we could land a hand. She’d scream. She’d say no. And I think eventually she accepted this was her reality; she never told on us. It never advanced to anything worse than that, but it was bad enough.
I never participated, not all of us did, but I still say “we” because none of us ever said anything to stop it. I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t say to my boys, “This is wrong. You can’t treat her like that.”
She was flirty. She wore short skirts. So what? None of that excuses any of what happened to her or any of what we did.
Would it have made a difference if I’d spoken up? I think so. All it takes for evil to triumph and whatnot.
She called me out on not saying anything to my boys about it when I asked her out once. I told her that I’d never do that to her and she quite rightly said, “It’s not enough to say you’d never do that.”
Most guys are the kind of guys “that would never do that”. But what do we say to our friends, sons, fathers who do? When the “man talk” crosses that definitive line into that place where women are viewed as things to be used and discarded, do we call it out as bull or do we laugh and have another one?
@janine_j said that rape is an epidemic in this country, but is not being taken seriously because it is seen as a woman’s problem. It shouldn’t be because it really isn’t – it could be your mother, your sister, your daughter. A big part of setting things right is for us men to get involved in the conversation – to tell our sons, brothers, friends to respect not only women, but people in general. Cowardice has no place here. Defensiveness does not help. We cannot afford any longer to sit idly by with our hands crossed saying, “I’d never do that.”