Laying down to soothe my stomach, I've just spent the last 10 minutes (ok, ok, it was 15) trying to think of the perfect come back line for a boy attempting to humiliate me when I was 12. You know, in case I ever get that moment to alter my past by taking over my younger body to rewrite the bad moments. "The Butterfly Effect" meets "Being Erica".
My first instinct is something that would blow his mind, "I had no idea you knew that women could get wet, since all your experience is either with your own hand or unwilling girls."
Mentioning masturbation and following it up with accusing a guy of rape is bound to get me suspended from school. Let's switch tactics.
"You're just compensating for your small stature by belittling everyone around you so that you feel bigger. And in 30 years -"
No, too many big words. He's 12.
"You're just making up for the fact that you're short by making other people small so you can feel -"
Wow, what a mouth full. It would take me 5 minutes to get all this out, and he might be punching me in the face within 30 seconds. And teacher would be right behind him to shut me down if that wasn't effective. So...
"John," I would drawl playfully with a small, coy smile (John is a sufficiently generic name, yes?). "Everyone here knows that you need to humiliate people so that you don't feel so short. Meanwhile, no one gives a shit about your height. But you're so obsessed with this that you'll spend the next 30 years completely unsatisfied, because you'll be too busy being mean to ever take the time to get to know women and what it takes to satisfy them."
I really like this one. Really, really, really like this one. But I'm afraid it may get me jumped a week later and beaten/raped. Humiliating a man in public, surrounded by his friends, by mentioning his height and then implying sexual incompetence? That tends to bring out the wife-beating caveman in a guy, not to mention a teenage boy roiling in hormones. And I wouldn't want to completely break him so that he spends the next 30 years hating me the way I've spent it hating him. *sigh* Let's try...
"Everyone here knows that you need to humiliate people so that you don't feel so short. Meanwhile, no one gives a shit about your height. People don't like you because you're vile to others. Grow up."
It works, but it's not very satisfying. Why am I so concerned about breaking the fragile ego of a 12 year old? Because I don't want to be a bad person? Because he's just a kid? Because I'm afraid there will be strong repercussions that would hurt me? I just want to make the guy re-analyze his life, so that 30 years from now he isn't so ashamed of his 12 year old self that he can't reveal any of this to his wife, or have a decent conversation with his kids when they hit puberty. How to make him feel like a jerk, and enough so that it will stick with him, but only enough to be a warning of what not to let himself become?
Does that make this altruistic in nature? Because fear of backlash and/or of being a bad person is kind of the opposite of that. Maybe they will even themselves out?
But was he innocent? Was he just a boy?
Kids are mean, period. I spent my entire childhood convinced that I was both fat and ugly, the two most egregious sins a little girl can allow herself to demonstrate in public. Everything else was fair game too, however. My clothes (always in pants and with no fashion sense), my hair (I had nice enough hair, it was mostly unshaven armpits that gave people the willies), my skin color ("Hey Sharkbait! Be careful you don't go in the water and get eaten!"), my height (I was taller than all the boys until 8th grade), my quiet shyness that made me smile when I was uncomfortable...
And then sex came along. I'm always amazed at the people around me who freak out at the idea of anyone under 16 (God forbid they're under 10!) seeing a naked human body. My mother once told me an embarrassing story - never to be repeated again - proving that I was curious about sex when I was about 3 years old. By Kindergarten I knew what boys I "liked" and wanted to... be with. It was in 2nd or 3rd Grade that I started to wonder about girls. By 3rd Grade kids were secretly dating, holding hands, kissing, and bragging about having sex - I was crushed when it came out that the boy I liked had "gone all the way" with his girlfriend (it was probably just exaggeration, but you never know). By the 4th Grade I was masturbating regularly and trying to watch "adult" movies on cable when my parents weren't around. By 5th grade all the girls were talking about the boys they had kissed at this weekend's parties. By 6th grade you were a NOBODY if you didn't have a boy to hold hands with during recess, when all the couples would sit on the rock wall between the parking lot and the basketball court.
Then things got really weird in Jr. High, when suddenly we were on the same campus as 8th graders who all smoked, drank, and made out or had sex every weekend. Nobody was just a kid anymore. Nobody was innocent.
It was annoying when John called me "sharkbait" because I didn't tan. It was humiliating when he called me "watermelon", because I figured he meant I was big and fat. Then came the day on the baseball field in PE, in full view and earshot of our teacher (not to mention all the other snickering boys in the class), when out of nowhere came the one that would haunt me for 30 years: "Hey watermelon, I bet you're wet." All the boys laughed, and the girls giggled. I just stood there and blinked, What was he talking about? He cleared it up later, as we all filed out of class.
I remember him leaning over the ball field's fence, waiting for me to get closer as we all marched down the stairs. He waited, watching the horror come over my face at the dawning realization that I had to pass under him just to get away from him, grinning maliciously. At the very last moment, he leaned as far down towards me as he could from the height of the elevated field, then muttered, "I bet you're all wet inside, aren't you?"
He had enjoyed it so much when he saw I didn't know what his first comment had been about. I had no idea he could laugh any louder until the moment he saw it on my face that I had figured it out.
He was talking about my vagina.
And when he'd started calling me watermelon weeks ago, he had been talking about my vagina all those times too.
My humiliation was finally complete. He had finally found the one place no one else had bothered to criticize or ridicule: my sex and my sexuality. As if my body shame could have been any deeper at the time.
Why am I not building a time machine right now to nail his little dick to a wall?
Probably because I'd have to then go back and nail a whole lot of other dicks to walls, and I don't want to think about how to accomplish something similar for the girls who tortured me. The girls were usually the worst, because they were louder, shriller, and loved humiliating other girls daily just for sport. With the boys, they were usually just part of the pack laughing at the scathing remarks of the other girls. Unless I got too close to them and they had to make it publicly clear that I was gross, or they had to complain loudly about being paired with me in class. Maybe that's why John stands out, because it wasn't common for the boys to be the ones actually saying the remarks that hit home.
High school was different. It was so nice to be able to breathe and worry about things like school and tests and boys who actually liked me and hanging out with true friends who laughed with me. Just like that, teasing dropped off by about 95%. Why bother, when you had cliques to hang with your own and ostracize the "other"? So was it the decrease in being forced to socialize with people you didn't like, or was it something else?
I was a Senior in high school before I realized that guys had been checking me out since at least the 9th grade. Because when I caught them, they would immediately look away. I know I hated it when I was bored in class and in my desperate attempt to find any sort of stimulation I found myself looking at some cute guy - just as his bored eyes looked my way. I always averted my eyes instantly. I never stuck around to see if anyone would curl a lip or just keep on turning their head, and it certainly never occurred to me that they might smile at me.
Until one day I caught a boy spacing out while he looked at me, his eyes glazed over. Who knows what he was actually thinking about. But the moment he realized what he was doing AND that I was looking back at him, he was the one who instantly averted his eyes. And blushed. He was embarrassed.
A cute guy blushed and averted his eyes from my gaze. A mildly popular guy who could get just about any girl he wanted.
My mind kept hitting rewind to re-analyze the scene. When something clicked. I had seen this before.
It had been happening to me since 9th grade Algebra class, at least. Boys' eyes darting away, or down, or to the person next to them to chat. Except all those other times, they had been subtle/quick enough to play like it hadn't been a stare, but instead a moment in a longer time spent swiveling their head to take in the whole room or turn towards a friend. And all the times I was even quicker than them and averted my eyes first.
To this day, I don't know how to feel about the revelation. As ever, part of me is thrilled, part of me feels justified that I was good enough to look at all along. But most of me is bitter. Because these boys are the same ones who made me feel like shit on a regular basis.
Cute girls may get the attention of boys and then get thrown away like toilet paper. Meanwhile, I was treated like shit on toilet paper because of my body, and my body was secretly appreciated by the same group of people.
It reminds me of that thing that guys do, how they like to turn things around if their advances are rebuffed. I think there might be a hashtag about it, something like "why so conceited? I wasn't hitting on you". Because there are some men that can't stand humiliation to the point that they would rather humiliate the woman they were just admiring.
"Oh, you thought I was asking you on a date? You? No! I meant the whole gang should go out on Saturday."
Or the woman who "experimented" with online dating conversations, where she simply accepted compliments instead of denying them.
"Yes, thank you."
"Wow, you sure are conceited. You're not that hot. Bitch."
People actually accused her of not having the right to perform social experiments on unsuspecting men. Because how dare she change her behavior just to see if men react differently? Also, women who wear makeup are lying whores...
Or my personal favorite, which came up a lot in the YouTube video made by the woman who secretly taped all the guys hitting on her during the course of one day while walking through New York, "Just because I called you beautiful from 50 feet away and we've never met before, doesn't mean I was hitting on you. I was just saying hello. Bitch."
So was John evil? Or just typical? Did he secretly covet my breasts, thinking about my wet vagina?
I'll never know. And I hate not knowing. But more than that I can't stand the audacity of a man who can't deal with embarrassment, so instead he humiliates someone else. Or blames them.
"Well it's your own fault that I've spent the last 10 years having anonymous sex with people that I meet online. You didn't jump on my dick 5 times a week like you did before we had kids. And no, I couldn't talk to you about that! I'm not going to beg a frigid woman to have sex with me."
And what kind of man thinks it's so important to stay in a relationship, one that he can't keep from straying from, that he will resort to accusing his wife/girlfriend/partner of being crazy when she finds clues to his betrayal?
"Of course I'm not into her. She's just a friend. You're being paranoid. That sexy note you found was just a joke. She was actually mocking you, because she thinks you're too clingy. Maybe she's right?"
It's a wonder that the human race bothers to date anymore, let alone enter into "permanent" monogamous relationships.