This picture was taken last year, when I was thirteen, just after a very angering day of school. I was in 7th grade, sitting with my friends in the cafeteria. That’s when a boy called Joe comes up to us. Let me tell you about Joe first. He was widely known as the class clown. He was short, skinny and freckled, with dark hair and bright eyes. He wasn’t athletic at all, but he was very cute. He had kind of an elfish look to him. He was hilarious but never mean, and all the teachers loved him. So when he came up to our table and started to ask a question, we were all very excited. Until he opened his mouth. “So tell me,” he’d said, “how much so a bunch of lovely ladies like you cost?”
We stared at him in disbelief. Most of my friends were shocked. Some were frowning. One had gone very pale. I remember thinking in confusion, ‘wait, where’s the punch line?’ Joe threw his wallet onto the table. “I’ve got twelve dollars,” he said with a smirk. Even at only thirteen, sexual harassment was nothing new to me. I got wolf whistles at the beach, I was catcalled on the street. But nobody had ever blatantly disrespected me to my face like this before. So, naturally I was shocked. When the surprise subsided, I was furious. I stood up so fast I knocked over my chair, and spat, “Was that supposed to be funny?!” At 5’6”, I was a good four inches above the kid, and I was really angry so I imagine it was pretty terrifying when I got right up in his face. At least it seemed that way, considering he went completely white and scrambled backward.
He left and we continued our lunch calmly, still kind of shell shocked about what just happened. But after 5th hour, I was called to the principals office where I got a 15 minute lecture and a call home for scaring Joe. I immediately told them what he’d said, to which the principal responded, “That’s no excuse to get physical.” Keeping in mind that I didn’t even lay a finger on him. My guidance counselor told me that “boys will be boys” and that I’d need to grow some thicker skin if I wanted to survive in the real world.
#yesallwomen because I was just barely thirteen years old when I was told that I should expect to be objectified and harassed and should just deal with it.