I have a big butt and I cannot lie. Wait, let me start over. I have an ass, like everyone else on this planet. For some reason, some people—both men and women—think it’s appropriate to grab it or talk about it. It’s not okay. In fact, grabbing it without my consent is sexual assault. I have many butt related stories to share, but I will only cover my teenage years for now. The first person to grab my ass was my own uncle. Yes, you read that right.
I was at my uncle’s cottage one summer day with my extended family members: my mother, my three uncles and my cousin. I was wearing—wait it doesn’t matter what I was wearing. At one point, we were standing around the kitchen waiting to grab food and my uncle just grabbed my ass. I snapped around and confronted him. He acted as if nothing had happened. I freaked out and told my mother right then and there. She said something dismissive. I must have made quite a scene because my other uncle offered to drive me home. I happily accepted and we left immediately. My uncle never grabbed my ass again, but it should never have happened in the first place. My mother doesn’t remember the incident. I told her how upset I was that she hadn’t believed me or been on my side. She asked me, “What was I supposed to do? He’s my brother.” This question proves to what extent we have been accepting this behaviour from men for far too long. I’m sure my mother wanted to help deep down, but she had no idea how to react in this situation. She didn’t think she had any recourse because it was her older brother, a man, who had committed the act. What power do we, women, possibly have against him?
In high school, I was in line at the cafeteria to get myself a muffin. I was the only one in line and I was waiting to pay. I felt someone grab my ass. I whipped around and pointed my finger to his face and told him “You better NEVER touch me again!”. He looked terrified. He just assumed it was okay to do that. My father, who worked at my school, was standing nearby when that happened. He came up to me and said: “Don’t yell at him. It’s not his fault, he’s disabled.” I disagree. No matter who you are, you aren’t allowed to touch other people without their consent. That should be taught to everyone, no exceptions. There is a reason this schoolmate of mine thought it was appropriate to grab my ass. He certainly didn’t learn that women’s bodies were objects on his own. The worst part is that it never occurred to me to report it. It was just another day, another butt grab.
These two incidents are unacceptable. As a teenager I was vulnerable. I was being moulded and shaped by the world around me. The fact that people I knew and trusted, especially my family, didn’t think it was a big deal but just something that happens eventually made me believe that I should just shut up and deal with it. And I half did for a while, until I snapped out of it. I was only able to realize it was wrong thanks to the many great resources and people out there.
At the time of writing, I visited Ontario’s webpage for Sexual Harassment and Violence to learn more about the resources available today. Here’s what I found:
Let’s stop sexual harassment and violence There are no grey areas when it comes to sexual violence or harassment. Whether it’s unwanted touching, inappropriate comments or the expectation of sex. We know it happens every day and it’s never okay.
I love this statement. Let us all learn it by heart and never forget it.