Friday, June 01, 2007

Sistas' are doin’ it for themselves…

“Standin' on their own two feet.
And ringin' on their own bells.”

If you haven’t done so yet, go read Cassandra’s post about women-only spaces.

My experience with women-only spaces was a little different. I grew up in a family of women (powerful women at that) with no male influences. I saw the women around me kicking a lot of ass..doing it on their own and what not… both my mother and aunt were staunch feminists. In fact, the very first book my mom ever gave me was called “Eve’s Revenge”, a collection of feminist stories, jokes, etc… so I remember identifying with feminism at a pretty early age. Although my paternal grandmother never identified herself as a feminist, hell if she didn’t raise 3 boys on her own and run an entire franchise with little or no help. So, yeah, women-only spaces, not a bad thing in my book.

I don’t know that my mom ever told me “Sally, you don’t have to fear anyone, especially men.” But, it was communicated to me through her actions. She, in my mind, was doing the impossible (single parent, 4 kids, in law school) which taught me a lot about self-preservation and kicking ass, overall. Typically, I’ve approached dangerous situations with somewhat of a reckless attitude. For example, the time I caught a burglar in downtown Minneapolis in the process of robbing my best friend’s car. I simply told him to get his ass out of the car and start running because I was going to call the police, so when I screamed, “FUCKIN MOVE IT!”, he got out of the car and ran. Fortunately, he wasn’t able to pry her stereo system free in time.

Sure, there were instances when I was younger where disgusting men helped themselves to my body. Three situations in particular stand out. The first one was in the 3rd grade when nauseatingly perverted older boy grabbed my crotch on the play ground at school and taunted me, “Sally, watcha’ gonna do, huh?” “Huh?” Had I been a little older n’ wiser, I would’ve beat his sorry ass to the pavement, but no, I just sorta stood there with a dumb look on my face. My pelvic area burned for the next week, I could still feel his fat meaty hand there.

The next incident was when I was in 8th grade. Keep in mind, I, er, developed early. I started wearing a bra when I was 10 or 11. By the time I was 13 I was a full D-Cup, on a 5’3, 110lb frame. Let’s just say it didn’t go unnoticed. Anyway, it was the summer before my 8th grade year and I was at the state fair with a few girl friends. As we walked by the various displays n’ games, the old carnie guys with missing teeth would leer at us with their various cat-calls and what not. At one point, a particularly gross toothless excuse for a man reached over and grabbed by boob. Again, I was speechless. It was during the bright light of day and I had several others with me, so I wasn’t worried for my safety, but like Cassandra said, found myself enraged and a little bit shocked.

And lastly, as the girl from the wrong side of the tracks at the good ol’ Catholic high school, I found issues like class, religion, and sexism were alive n’ well. And don’t even get me started on race and sexual orientation. Anyway, I spent a lot of time bucking the popular paradigm. Refusing to be confirmed, openly questioning authority, standing up for other fellow outcasts who were teased by girls who made “Mean Girls” look like fuckin’ tea party…eh.. well, you know how those catholic girls are. But, the guys were even worse, specially’ the jock guys. Seeing how I had “developed early” I was often harassed in the hallways by the junior/senior guys. For example, on one particular day, an unruly jock guy grabbed my ponytail, threw me against a locker, and said to his buddies, “Hey guys, look at my little freshman sex toy.” Not the most welcoming environment for an insecure teenage girl. But, eventually, I grew out of my shell and started kicking a little ass, just like my mom… the apple doesn’t fall from the tree…

Over the years, I’ve become much more assertive and aggressive about protecting my boundaries. I no longer stand speechless when some uncivilized slob grabs a body part, I also feel like if I was attacked, I could defend myself, and hell… like I said before, maybe even kick a little ass. After all, those hardcore body building training sessions at the gym have to count for something.

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