Today was an ordinary day as most are. I got home early because I didn’t have rehearsal for the play I’m in at my high school or class at the local community college. As a young woman, I want to go places in my life and I’m doing everything I can to do so. This evening, however, that didn’t matter to a group of teenage boys. To them, I wasn’t a hardworking young woman who’s studying, getting some of her college credits out of the way even though she’s only a junior in high school, and filling the rest of the time with extra curriculars in the theatre department. To them, I was just a hot chick.
I was walking my neighbor’s dog for them and it was in the late evening. It was beginning to get dark but I didn’t mind because it was at least a little bit cooler than Florida is during the day. Because I would be jogging and it was at least 80 degrees outside, I opted to wear shorts and a tank top, nothing unheard of in the Sunshine State. As the dog Bella and I made our way through the neighborhood, a group of teenage boys passed us on the opposite side of the street. Since it was dark and I didn’t have my glasses on, I couldn’t recognize their faces but I knew that they went to my school. From across the street they tried to make conversation with me. Or at least, they spoke to me. No, not even that. They spoke at me.
They shouted out greetings, while talking to each other in between said greetings. They discussed how attractive I was by their standards when I was a mere ten feet away from them. I chose to ignore them, though I had a million of my own comments racing through my brain. Once I was farther away, they let up.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the end of it for me because soon I had to turn around to go back where I came from. This time they were on the same side of the road as I was and Bella chose to go far slower than I wanted her to. I simply wanted to jog past and not deal with any more of them while Bella wanted to take her sweet time. I encouraged her to speed up by saying, “Bella! Bella, come on girl! Let’s go!” Picking up on her name, the boys called her too. When she didn’t respond, just as I hadn’t, they went back to trying on me. I kept ignoring their comments until finally I just didn’t. I thought about all the times in the past I’ve regretted holding back what I wanted to say. I thought about the conversation I just had the other day with a friend of mine of how much I hate being harassed by men on the street and how it makes me feel dirty and inferior. I thought of Hollaback. So when the next of the boys spoke, asking me what grade I was in, I replied with undeniable snark in my voice, “Not yours!” and jogged away.
Now sure, it wasn’t the most clever comment in the world. It wasn’t the toughest either. It wasn’t revolutionary or life changing, or anything. But it made me feel good. It felt good knowing that I stood up to those boys and put them in their place. It felt good to let them know that I meant business and I wasn’t going to put up with their harassment. It felt good to be able to walk away with no regrets other than not saying something cooler.
For the rest of the walk I felt great and I told my step mom about it immediately when I got home, then popped right on here at Hollback to share my story with other girls. For the first time, at sixteen years old, I stood up to the boys who wanted to show their superiority over me and proved that hey, I might be a girl, and a hot one at that, but I won’t let anyone try to make me feel like that’s all I am.
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