When I was 12 years-old, a 16 year-old boy pinned me down, raised an eyebrow and said:
“Ever heard of rape?”
He laughed as I quickly broke free.
“C’mon, it was funny.”
A few years later, I confided in another boy about the incident.
He apologized and then got really quiet.
“You don’t have to be sorry,” I told him. “It wasn’t you. I’m sorry, I probably shouldn’t have told you.”
“No, no, it’s not that,” he started. “It’s just…”
He took another long while.
“I just wonder if I’ve ever done anything, just messing around, that scared a girl.”
This felt real – which is to say it felt awkward and confusing. I couldn’t handle it. I wanted him to be perfect…because, if he was perfect and he liked me, then that would prove I wasn’t so messy or messed up. So, I shut him down the best way I knew how:
“I’m sure you didn’t. It’s no big deal. Just forget it.”
I don’t remember the rest of the conversation.
I’ve always had strong (like really strong) females in my life. My mother. My aunts. Cousins. Neighbors. Teachers. I’ve always known that I’m loved, and that there are good women and men who would help me change the course of our planet’s rotation if need be…but still somehow, even early on, I learned to tolerate, accept, ignore (and in my weakest moments, normalize) boys and men actually and figuratively pinning us down.
Somehow, I even taught myself how to do the pinning.
That’s learned behavior derived from something much bigger than my own experiences.
This Saturday I’ll be marching in solidarity with millions of women all across the globe.
At the Boston Women’s March for America, I’ll be walking in peace, love, and courage all in hope that as my son and his friends (of every race, creed, gender, and ability) continue to grow up, they collectively learn something different.
That WE are all here.
That WE are all equal.
That WE can – and will – and must now rise…TOGETHER.