Take Back The Night!

She bent down… just like this. It was obvious she was doing it for me. Then she said “I’m not that kind of girl”.

I’d dressed up a bit for this event. Put on make up, wore a sparkly shirt, I even added a rainbow bead necklace a friend just gave me. Listening to the two men talking nearby made me wish I could scrub off my face and put on something a little more ugly… a lot more invisible.

When she breaks up with her boyfriend, I’m totally going for her.

There was no indication that he saw her as a person in her own right. She moved solely for him and, when her boyfriend was done it was going to be his turn to have her.

But let me ask u this then let’s say I ask u to a dance and it’s a dream I really wanted and u tell me no and I go on a killing spree what would you say was the trigger point to my anger.

~ actual question asked to a friend ~

The Take Back the Night event started in an auditorium full of people… young and old… male and female. There were booths around the room where I got candy, a pen, and an apple. A Metis drumming group¬†played at the front. I admired one lady’s sequined hat and then it was time to sit.

#webelieveyou

Story after story, in video and in person, of women who’d been raped, assaulted, molested, and beaten. Story after story where they were disbelieved because he wouldn’t do that. Story after story where women went to the police to be empowered and take back their right to bodily autonomy, only to have the police fail them too.

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I was photobombed ūüôā

My ex had a favourite position, one which made it so I couldn’t speak and couldn’t push him away. I couldn’t change my mind midway because “no” wasn’t an option. I told him this in tears and suggested a hand touch which would mean “no”. He ignored it… twice. That was when I realized the ignoring was deliberate, he liked that I was struggling… that I couldn’t stop him. I refused to get into that position after that and he sulked like a small child being told “no” to seconds of dessert. I’m a person, not a serving of cake.

Whatever we wear
Where ever we go
Yes means yes
And no means no!

We spilled out of the auditorium, a large jubilant, defiant crowd… hemmed in by a strip of yellow caution tape and guarded by police. Pouring onto the road, chanting almost incomprehensible words. Did we want safety or ice cream? The echoes sounded like both.

Two, four, six, eight
No more violence
No more rape!

I walked home after the event with a neighbour. Cheers and laughter erupted ahead of us, followed by a faint “no-oo”. My heart felt like it was slamming against my ribs and I rocked as I walked. What could we do against a crowd? Both our phones were dead and he’s shorter and more slight than me. The soccer field ahead was lit; it soon became apparent a goal had been scored. My relief was instantaneous.

There were children scattered through the walk, blowing whistles and waving hand made signs. For now it’s just fun. How long will it take for the message to sink in? Will they be the change for the future? Are there enough of them?

Michelle? You go out for walks on your own? Do you really think it’s safe?

I used to. Maybe someday I will again.

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Kathleen’s introductory guide to trans…

There’s a good chance you’re reading this post because a friend shared it on Facebook and you’re curious. You’ve seen Caitlyn Jenner’s transformation via the media and watched Laverne Cox’s character on Orange is the New Black. Maybe you agree that they’re women or maybe you don’t understand why people think “he’s” a woman. Either way you’ve come to the right place.

The best place to start is with a definition. Transgender simply means that someone isn’t¬†the gender they were assigned at birth. Assigned at birth is a common term in the trans community because, when you get right down to it, that’s what happens. If there’s something between the legs and it’s relatively long, the baby’s a boy. If there’s something there but it’s relatively small, the baby’s a girl. If it’s in between¬†that’s what’s referred to as intersex.¬†There is no biology or genetics done here, just a tired doctor eyeballing a newborn’s genitals and ticking a M or F box.

Sometimes people claim to be using biology as proof that trans doesn’t exist. All that does is prove the person really doesn’t understand biology. Gender is a spectrum; there is far more than xx/xy and penis/vagina. Claiming there’s no more to gender than two sets of chromosomes and genitals¬†is akin to claiming algebra doesn’t exist because it doesn’t mesh with what you learned in grade two math. First, as I said above, intersex exists. Second, gender exists in the brain, not between the legs.

Gender and sex development occur in the womb. At the beginning, all zygotes¬†look the same then they begin to differentiate according to hormones and the embryo’s¬†chromosomes. Noticeable visual differences can be seen by the time the fetus reaches 20 weeks. But gender isn’t visible to the naked eye, that¬†develops in the brain and¬†can be seen in brain scans. To put it simply, the fetus’ genitals release small amounts of hormones which are supposed to trigger a hormonal wash to wire the brain. However sometimes the hormones aren’t detected and either not enough or different hormones wash through instead, wiring the brain with a gender that¬†differs from the visible sexual characteristics.

People use the quote “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” on a regular basis¬†and this goes doubly for gender. If you don’t want to be judged by outside appearances, why judge someone else? Women and men come in all different shapes and sizes (and so does everyone in between). I’m sure everyone’s had an incident where they’ve been told they can’t possibly know something about themselves, that someone else knows better. Maybe it was over something silly like developing a taste for a food you hated as a child and having your Mom refuse¬†to serve it to you. Maybe it was over something serious like having¬†your beliefs or sexual orientation dismissed as¬†merely a phase or some sort of rebellion. There’s a frustration that boils up inside when people claim they know you better than you know yourself… an anger and discomfort at being ignored and patronized… a feeling of invisibility. Now imagine how much harder it would be to have the core of your identity ignored and devalued.

Your sex was the first thing other people defined about you as soon as you were born, usually even before your birth and often before your health. Your gender was the first thing people asked about you as a baby. It permeates¬†every aspect of your life from the clothes you¬†buy to the recreation you¬†enjoy. If you’ve been arguing that trans people are wrong about their gender, it’s time to ask yourself why. Why do you feel you know more about their gender than they do? They know what genitals they have and are probably far more appalled* by them than you are. Isn’t it better to trust them to know such an integral part of their life better than you?

Sometimes when people disagree with being transgender, they bring up irrelevant arguments. Quite frankly, someone thinking they’re a dog is as relevant to an argument about trans people as someone wanting to marry their toaster is to an argument about equal marriage (whether it’s same sex or interracial). Someone¬†thinking they’re black as an argument is a little more relevant since it happened recently. Rachel Dolezal¬†splashed into the media this spring as a white woman who claimed to be black so incessantly that she got appointed the president of NAACP. As usual, the reality was complicated. She didn’t come up with this notion out of nowhere, she has black siblings and came from an abusive family. Rachel isn’t black, she’s a woman struggling through the aftermath of abuse who identifies with the people who supported her in early childhood. Colour really is skin deep. You can’t do a brain scan and determine whether someone’s black or white. Race is based on where our ancestors lived, a melanin umbrella for sun protection. The closer the equator… the darker the skin. Gender, however, can be recognized¬†through brain scans.

I am a cisgender (or cis) woman. To put it simply, when I was born the doctor looked at me and said, “It’s a girl!” and I am one. Meanwhile the doctor told me that Colin was a boy and zie’s not. Cisgender is¬†not an insult unless it’s been shortened to something like ‘cis scum’ and, in that case… seriously? What the hell did you do?

Don’t tell me, I don’t actually want to know.

It’s not a label you can refuse either (unless you’re trans). You can’t claim to dislike this one label when you’ve accepted every single other one. Claiming it’s an “invented word” doesn’t fly either. Is the rest of our¬†language organic and free range? Were the other words all carefully hand picked off the etymology tree? This is¬†a label that will turn up so rarely in your life that you don’t really have to worry about it. Even if you hang out with a bunch of trans people you’re far more likely to talk about phone cases, chocolate, and that amazing new Thai restaurant that just opened up down the street. Although honestly I’m more partial to the Chinese restaurant two blocks over (their homestyle bean curd is so yummy!).

My friends agree that dysphoria is the hardest part of being trans but there’s another difficult part… a whole bunch of misguided comments and cringe worthy questions.¬†I’ve asked a few friends what comments or questions they get, but first I’m going to share a video made by trans activists:

As you can tell by the video, our society has a weird obsession with trans people’s genitals. My biggest tip is just don’t.¬†When was the last time you asked someone if they were circumcised or if they shaved “down there” or you pondered the size of their labia? I’m really hoping the answer to all of the above is never. Give trans people the same respect. Plus let’s stop with the “chopped off his penis” comments. A¬†trans woman’s penis is not cut off (presuming she chose to have surgery in the first place). The penis is very neatly divided and looped around to form a vagina, labia, and a (usually) functioning clitoris. This is done by a well trained surgeon and team, not the trans woman and a pair of scissors.

Alongside rampant discussions and questions about genitals comes a whole other debate. Bathrooms.

Cue the sound of trans people hitting their heads on the keyboard.

For most people, public washrooms are an irritation. Will there be toilet paper? Will the paper sit neat and clean in the dispenser instead of strewn across a waterlogged floor? Will it smell like a circus outhouse on a hot day or an artificial version of roses. Trans people get all that plus the added concern of being yelled at or beaten up and, in some cases, having security or the police called. Simply because they wanted to pee.

There’s a concern that some cis people have that men are going to sneak into the ladies room in drag, pretending to be trans, and rape someone. Won’t someone think of the children?!? This ignores the fact that a) that same man¬†is going to have to walk through the store in drag, which is hardly inconspicuous (I’ve seen¬†people literally turn in place to continue staring at Jeremy when we’re out) and b) there are trans children who need just as much protection as their cis friends and siblings. These fears also conveniently ignore a huge swatch of trans people, namely trans men. If people were forced to go into the washroom of their assigned gender, that means trans men would have to go into the women’s room…

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Yep, he wouldn’t be conspicuous at all

When people argue against trans people using¬†their correct washroom, they forget about men like¬†Michael Hughes.¬†How exactly are you supposed to tell if he’s trans when he’s in the washroom? If a woman is scared of having a man in the washroom with her, I’d think she’d be more upset about a muscular bearded man than a woman who’s in there to pee and (possibly) check her lipstick. For that matter, how are people supposed to tell in general? Are we all to drop our drawers before we enter? Are they¬†going by gender stereotypes? There’s already at least one cis woman suing in the States for being harassed and escorted out of the ladies room for not looking feminine enough.

Plus these arguments ignore one crucial fact. There has not been one single case of a trans person attacking or harassing a cis person in the washroom. Not one. The closest I could find was a case where a couple of young teens claimed to be exposed to a trans woman’s penis while changing for a team event. Not attacked, simply exposed. Plus it turned out that the two girls snuck into a member’s only section of the gym, an area they were clearly told was out of bounds, and then proceeded to open up a closed and private sauna room door where the trans woman and her friend happened to be sitting. Conversely,¬†I wouldn’t have the space or time to write down all the¬†times trans people have been¬†harassed in the washroom from this year alone. It’s not unknown for trans people to suffer with bladder problems stemming from holding their urine for hours instead of using a public toilet. They’d rather suffer from bladder problems instead of being attacked (again). But they’d really rather be safe.

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So not a risk to anyone in the women’s room. Very much at risk in the men’s room.

There’s another act of violence against trans people,¬†misgendering. This occurs when people refuse to use a trans person’s pronouns, instead using the pronouns the person was assigned at birth. Colin is continuously misgendered. Akin to misgendering is the act of using someone’s birth name, also known as their dead name in the trans community. Both can cause a great deal of emotional distress to a trans person, as well as disrespecting the right to their own identity. At least 22 people have been killed this year because they were transgender women. I say at least because some end up being dead named and identified as male. Their names were read at our Transgender Day of Remembrance service this year and an appalling number were identified by the phrase “unknown woman”. Outing someone is an act of violence. Telling people your female friend “used to be male” puts her at risk of being beaten up or murdered. Telling people your male friend “used to be female” puts him at risk of being beaten up or raped.¬†If you have a trans friend that’s great. Don’t betray their trust by outing them so you can appear cool or trendy. Don’t betray their trust because you’re struggling with accepting your new information about their gender. Introduce them with their pronouns and chosen name then move on.

We are all human. We all have hopes, dreams, hobbies, and a burning need to know why Facebook keeps switching to “top profile” (the last one might be just me). Don’t let a label get between you and another person.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them below and I’ll do my best to answer them honestly (and possibly by frantically messaging my friends). This blog is unapologetically a safe place. Any transphobic or homophobic comments are deleted and the person is blocked from commenting. I’ll make allowances for honest ignorance.

* Most, but not all trans people, deal with some degree of gender dysphoria. Some, like my teen Colin, are perfectly happy with their body including their genitals. One of my friends refers to her genitals as “that thing” or “the abomination”. Another friend of mine had to hide sharp objects for fear her daughter might try to cut off her own penis as a preschooler. Many of my friends have posted pictures which show a man and woman on opposite sides of a mirror, while saying that’s exactly how they feel. They feel themselves completely as one gender and it’s continually jarring to have everyone else see and refer to them as a different gender entirely.

Random Wednesday thoughts…

I found myself embroiled in a Facebook thread last night. It started with the following¬†image…

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This was posted in a parenting group and every single person who’d responded was female.

The first reply was “Really?! Thats just mean”. This was followed by “if it is just as it is written – no I doubt it would be rape. – but , yes, there is some info missing….” along with “I can understand asking him to stop and being upset that he didn’t but unless there was something else strange going on (bondage maybe) or he was being really rough, I can’t see it as rape.” and “The real question is, when does it stop being consensual? In this base scenario, I do not think it is rape”

I posted “It stops being consensual at the words no or stop. It’s rape after that.” and got these two replies:

“Well, the question is, are you entitled to finish, and what measures are you allowed to employ to ensure you do?”

and

“To me, that broad of a definition is worrisome.”

To recap. Grown adult women think it’s probably not rape if¬†a¬†man continues having sex with a woman (when she says stop) if he hasn’t finished yet and that sex after the words “stop” and “no” is¬†too broad a definition for rape. That crashing sound was my faith in humanity breaking and I didn’t have much left to begin with.

At my last count, the thread was up to 80 comments (several of which were mine). More people than me chimed in on the “yes, this is rape” side and then¬†another person jumped in to claim rape culture doesn’t exist in Canada and that the woman in the image deserved it because men can’t control themselves in a state of arousal. Besides she’d been enjoying it right up to the word “stop”. You know, pretty much proving the existence of rape culture right there.

I’d originally planned on writing a longer post last night; tying the conversation with Jeremy to the Facebook discussion but then I got to my question for¬†Jeremy and ran out of steam. I could not write another word about rape, not if I wanted to sleep that night. Also, I hate 3am. Just saying. I’m not very awake today.

I was chatting on Facebook with a couple of friends of mine (about that thread) when Jeremy wandered into my room and flopped onto my bed.

“Do you know what doctors should invent?” he asked cheerfully.

Well, I can think of all sorts of things. That’s one heck of an open ended question. I just shrugged slightly, hoping he’d accept that as an answer. I don’t like playing guessing games.

“They should build a gender changing machine,” he continued. “You’d walk in¬†and, poof, you’d be the other gender when you walked out the other side.”

He gestured wildly, sending puffs of orchid scented body lotion in my direction. He tends to put it on a tad thick so he can smell prettier. I could smell him from halfway across the room.

“And you could use it as many times as you wanted,” he added. “Would you use it?”

Putting aside the fact I wouldn’t want to be a man, we’ve been through this multiple times with his teleportation¬†device questions. I would not be comfortable going through any machine that entirely rearranged my molecules.

“Michelle. Are you sure you didn’t come in here with an arm protruding from your back?”

While I’ve talked to Jeremy about the difference between sex and gender, it apparently hadn’t stuck. Considering he claims we live in a 20 floorie high rise (because he confuses stories and floors), this wasn’t a big surprise.

“Jeremy? Do you know what the difference is between sex and gender?” I asked, wondering¬†what he’d remembered.

“Yes… mostly… well, kind of,” he said, squirming a little. “I know what it means but it’s complicated to explain.”

“That means no,” I said dryly. “Gender is up here,” I tapped the side of his head, “and sex is between your legs. I think you meant a sex change machine.”

“Yeah,” he agreed. “That’s what I meant.”

He promptly moved on to talking about Doctor Who. I’d like to say I listened intently but the truth is he lost me within the first 30 seconds. I caught something about someone time-traveling into the Tardis but, beyond that, I was completely confused. He often forgets I’ve only seen four episodes.

“Oh! I can hear my airplane. It’s still flying! I didn’t think it would fly so long without me. I have to go check and see how it’s doing.”

With that, he bounded out of the room, snagging a cat on the way. And I went back to my writing.

I take it back!

I joked half a year ago (double checks the date, yes, it was exactly half a year ago today) that sex ed talks could be renamed “Why Mommy Wants to Drink”. I take it back. Plain, basic explanations on what people do together in private (you know, beyond¬†sleeping and surfing the net) are easy.

I was in the kitchen preparing dinner when Jeremy walked in. He leaned against the fridge and eyed me seriously.

“Mom. Some people say men can’t get raped.”

I put the knife down and stared at him, momentarily speechless, my thoughts colliding with each other as they went from organizing food prep to serious conversation.

“They say that men have to, umm, be interested in order to have sex.”

Really? I’d rather just go back to explaining anal sex. Talk about needing a deep breath. I was tired, hungry, and in no way ready for a conversation like this.

“Okay,” I said slowly, trying to corral my thoughts. “Something you have to remember is that nature has only one goal and that’s to reproduce. That’s it for every single plant and animal and that includes us. Nature doesn’t care what you think, feel, or want; it tries its utmost for a baby regardless. Men can have erections and women can have orgasms even if they don’t want to have sex at all.”

He nodded¬†then added,¬†“And women have it a lot easier because they get believed and men don’t. They get more help too.”

Jeremy rattled off a statistic which I promptly lost. Under ten rape clinics that worked with men and clinics numbering in the thousands for women. He had exact numbers, presumably from a video he’d watched.

“They said there’s more clinics for women¬†because men get raped less but how would anyone know that if they’re not believed?”

Another deep breath. My doctor offered me Ativan last month and I turned him down. Which was probably a good choice because this was not a conversation to have while looped.

“In one way that’s true,” I agreed. “Men don’t get believed and often don’t report assaults. Plus there’s a whole different mentality. If a grown man has sex with a 14 year old girl, that’s rape. But if a grown woman has sex with a 14 year old boy, he’s considered a stud. And that’s not right.”

Jeremy nodded and stayed silent. So I continued.

“Sadly, women don’t have it much better. I read a story recently where a judge reduced the sentence on a sexual assault case because the 14 year old girl was too mature for her age and must have been willing. And the first things people ask when a woman’s raped are what she’s wearing, how late it was, and if she was drinking. You know, to figure out how much was her fault. Women might be doing a bit better when it comes to being believed but everyone’s getting the short end of the stick.”

Then a thought occurred to me.

“Jeremy? Has anyone ever touched you or done anything…” I had no idea how to finish that sentence. Luckily I didn’t need to.

“No,” he replied simply in a voice full of surprise. His expression was baffled as if he couldn’t comprehend that anyone would try to hurt him like that. I think everyone feels like that, until something happens at least, and I hope he keeps that feeling forever.

My thoughts on modesty…

The stories all seem to blur over the years into one message. Girls and their bodies tempt men. That’s not a message I want for either of my kids. The message I’ve aimed for is that their bodies are their own.

This message started¬†when they were young. Emma was extremely shy, to the point where I was looking into getting her in to see a doctor about selective mutism,¬†before she finally started speaking outside the house¬†when she was four years old. I think she was closer to six¬†years old before our family doctor ever heard a word out of her mouth and those weren’t to him, she was explaining the digestive system to me while he was around the corner (The Magic School Bus is a great show). When she was at home she was the biggest chatterbox ever (and still is). In public she was completely silent, unless she had something urgent to whisper in my ear.

I got pressure from friends and family members to push her to speak to them, to urge her to hug and kiss them when she showed every sign of not wanting to. I stood my ground.

Her body, her rules.

Jeremy was pretty much the opposite of Emma. He never met a stranger he didn’t like. He’d talk to anyone, hold anyone’s hand, and when I had company he’d work his way around the room, sitting on everyone’s lap and hugging everyone in turn. When he was three, I think he proposed to everyone I know.

His body, his rules (although I made sure he didn’t wander away with the mailman).

I am very sensitive to touch and textures. I don’t like seams or tags (the back of my neck crawls at the thought) and I was in my mid to late teens before I could even tolerate wearing jeans or any pants with a button. But the touch¬†I found the hardest was tickling.

I loved being tickled, to a point, and I reached that point very quickly. That’s when I’d say “no” and “stop”. But those were ignored because I was laughing, so I must be having fun. Except I wasn’t. By that point¬†the tickling was almost painful and I was crying while I laughed. My father and/or grandfather¬†didn’t stop until I wet myself and then I’d run into the bathroom, totally humiliated, to cry alone. There I’d vow never to get tickled again. Then I’d watch as my two sisters got tickled. They were having so much fun and I wanted to have fun too, so eventually (days, weeks, or months later) I’d join in with the same results as before.

I learned another lesson then. It was my fault. I shouldn’t have joined in if I didn’t want to be tickled. Except I did want to be tickled. I just wanted it to stop when I said “no”. And it was my fault because I laughed. How was anyone supposed to know I wasn’t happy? How was anyone supposed to know that my gasped “no, please stop” meant anything since¬†I was laughing at the same time? Except I couldn’t stop laughing. You can imagine my fury when I discovered it’s an involuntary reaction to tickling.

I tickled both Emma and Jeremy when they were little but I had¬†strict rules. Both “no” and “stop” were sacrosanct. Tickling stopped that exact second and did not start again until they said they were ready. I made sure to enforce this with my parents as well. I did not want my kids to go through what I did. At first Emma was irritated.

“I didn’t mean it,” she once informed me when I stopped because she’d said “no”.

“If you didn’t mean it then don’t say it,” I replied. “I will stop every single time you tell me to.” She quickly learned the rules.

Jeremy was trickier since he was non verbal (due to autism) until he was three. I went with non-verbal cues with him for the most part although anything that sounded like a “no” was honoured.

I hate being tickled now. I can’t remember which child tickled me but my automatic reaction was to yell “no” and burst into tears. Neither of them have tried again.

My body, my rules.

And then there was clothes. I bought them for the purpose of keeping the kids warm in the winter and cooler in the summer, and that was it. I horrified one of my friends by allowing Emma to roll down a hill in a school outfit. What if it got dirty? I equally horrified one of my sisters when I exchanged a present she’d bought Emma. It was a crop top with three quarter length sleeves. Emma was four years old and had never asked for a tight fitting short shirt. I simply told Emma it was too small and exchanged it for two loose and comfortable shirts. Not out of prudishness, if Emma wanted to take her shirt off and run around topless that was her choice. The shirt wasn’t one she’d chosen.

Clothing continued to be an issue with Emma. She has an eclectic style that involves short shorts paired with ripped tights, layered shirts with spaghetti straps, and lots of jewelry. It suits her. Her father has made several comments over the years, one memorable occasion involved a Christening on his side of the family. He spent an entire weekend referring to Emma as “that one” and claiming her choice of clothing had destroyed his whole trip. When the two of them were finally dropped off, he made a point of only saying goodbye to Jeremy with a very sarcastic “I love you” added, loudly enough to ensure Emma could hear and emphatic¬†enough to make her realize she was being excluded from that love. She started cutting herself the next day. Clothing should not be a reason to withhold love.

And I have a long standing argument with family and teachers over Jeremy’s hair. He has grown it long multiple times since he was eleven years old and each time you’d think he was setting fire to the Canada flag, using kittens for kindling by the reaction he’s got. It’s hair people, get over it.

I lost a Facebook friend last year when she posted a story about Mohammed Ali talking to one of his daughters, telling her to protect her modesty and virtue; saying she was like a precious pearl or gem. That she needed to stay hidden until the right man searched hard enough to find her. And I argued recently in a parenting group that virginity should not be a source of pride in your child. You can be proud of values and beliefs that lead to that choice but not the virginity itself. You can have those same (or similar) values and beliefs without virginity.

I was at work yesterday and one of my young coworkers made a comment that got everyone laughing. I asked him what he’d said. He stared at me in horror and said he couldn’t tell me, while everyone giggled at the thought. In real life I’m seen as bubbly, cheerful, friendly, and a hug dispenser (yes to anyone I’ve issued online hugs… I am a massive hugger in real life). I’m also seen as completely and utterly innocent and naive. Which I am. But that hasn’t stopped me from dispensing the most complete and real sex education I could manage for both my kids simply because it’s important.

There are several things I’ve taught my kids over the years. One (which started way back at the tickling age) was that “no” and “stop” mean just that. I don’t care when it’s said. I don’t care if you’re half a heartbeat away from intercourse. You stop and that’s it. Two is that consent has to be both verbal and sober. Your time together will mean so much more if no one vomits and both of you remember it in the morning. And three is that no one’s “asking for it”. I don’t care if they’re stark¬†naked, they still aren’t asking for anything (except maybe a sunburn).

The articles and comments regarding modesty worry me, especially when it comes to Emma, as they are all one sided. I haven’t read a single article, blog entry or meme aimed at modesty and teenage boys (other than ones asking girls to be modest so they don’t tempt teenage boys). Jeremy’s had people scream at him from car windows but he’s never had the experiences Emma’s had. He’s never had adults offer him open containers of alcohol, demanding he take a sip and getting angry at his refusal. He’s never had repeated demands to give out his phone number. Emma told me of one incident where a man repeatedly asked her out, ignoring her repeated refusals. She finally lied and told him she was a lesbian AND had a girlfriend. He ignored this and continued to ask her out. Then followed her onto the bus and sat down beside her (ignoring countless other empty seats) and proceeded to harass her for the whole twenty minute ride. No one at the stop said anything, despite the fact she was obviously underage and uncomfortable. No one said anything on the bus either. Jeremy’s not concerned about waiting at the bus stop at night time. I can’t say the same for Emma anymore.