What to do when your teen aged daughter is sexually harassed…I have no fucking clue. I’ll tell you what was done and you can agree or not. Then wallow with me in the fact that some of our daughters will have to deal with this bullshit whether we like it or not. It’s there. It waited for mine and, statistically, it’ll be there for yours too.
My 14 year old is your typical gamer, anime fan-girl, artsy type of kid. She is not flashy, flirty or girly. She wears over-sized clothes, mostly black (like her mAmA) and work boots most of the time. She can pretty much get through school without cat calls or ignorant remarks about what she is wearing. Until yesterday.
Yesterday was her AP English presentation. When I say she worked so hard on this project, I mean missed hanging with friends and refrained from watching YouTube videos type of “worked hard.” The topic was Greek Gods and she picked Gaia (Mother Earth). Her plan was to put together a 2 piece toga so she could draw the earth on her stomach and make a larger cape-type toga over all so she could reveal said earth. We went to the thrift store for some sheets, found a tree of life necklace and some ivy for her headpiece. She was so excited. She memorized her whole speech and could recite every word from her slideshow without needing to look. She was ready for any question her class might ask, she was ready for anything except for what happened next.
What do you say to this? How do I take this back? I can never erase this. It’s out there in her universe now.
In the next few texts she told me she confronted him and he laughed in her face and walked away. She spoke to the teacher, who was unaware that he physically touched her because he had done it behind the podium where she had to step behind to change her slides. Had my daughter not had something on underneath and he gotten a good grasp of her skirt, she would have been standing in front of the classroom in her underwear. WHY THE FUCK DID HE THINK THAT THIS WAS HIS RIGHT?!?!?!?!
I emailed the principal and the teacher immediately from work as calmly as I could. On my lunch hour, the teacher called me and apologized profusely. She had already spoken to the principal and the student would be written up for sexual harassment. He would also have to apologize to Sophia. I told Sophia, she could accept his apology if she was so inclined, but to let him know this is NOT okay; he should NEVER touch anyone in that way again. Other people’s bodies are not for the judgement of others and certainly not to manhandle because there is some skin showing.
I was stuck at work, so my husband went to pick our girl up from school. The two of them went straight to the top. While speaking to the Principal, my husband was adamant about pressing charges, expelling the student, skinning him alive and hanging him from the flagpole in front of the school. The Principal tried to calm my husband down and he listened. But the overall feeling he got was, boys will be boys. It was in that moment, my husband told me, he saw our daughter become a woman. Sophia leaned over in her chair, looked the Principal in the eyes and calmly said, “With all due respect to your degrees and your intelligence, it sounds to me like you are actually making excuses for this person who put their hands on my body in a way I did not ask them to. This person is on my bus every day, since middle school, and he has never acknowledged my existence. We have two classes together this year, one being gym, and he has never spoken to me at all. If you can justify the fact that the ONE time he tries to communicate with me in any way, shape or form, is the one day I am wearing a half shirt, and his method of communication is to pull my skirt down, not once, not twice but THREE times, then I will walk out of here and keep my mouth shut. If not, then you have to do something about this so no one else has to be humiliated, or worse, by him.”
I am tearing up as she dictated those words to me just now. It hurts that this is what so many young women have to put up with regularly and not just because it happened to one of mine.
Our story ends with this kid being removed from both of my daughter’s classes immediately, ISS (in school suspension) for a week and mandatory counseling, which I’m sure he’s done with by now. I called the bus company to let them know of the situation, just in case he mouths off to her. But so far, he has gone back to ignoring her, back to not acknowledging her existence at all. Our hope is that if the thought to reach out and grab someone inappropriately ever crosses his mind again, so too will the memory of my Sophia who spoke up, who did something about it and he just won’t.
He simply won’t.
Michelle (mAmA) is an old school alternative/punk originally hailing from Brooklyn, NY. She has been moderately domesticated and ‘suburbanized’ to Long Island, NY, with two amazingly talented daughters, a Rumbler husband and a sweet, lovable 125lb Doberman Babyboy.