How do I frame this past incident if it ever comes up?
May 26, 2014 8:04 AM Subscribe
In the light of recent Metas about sexual harassment, and countless other Metas from the past, there is an incident from my childhood I haven't been able to fully or comfortably contextualise. Details below the cut.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What happened to me seems so unusual that I'm afraid that if I bring it up, I'll be saying something along the lines of, "It isn't always that bad." What's worse is that, the human memory being what it is, I have trouble remembering if it actually happened. I was in grade school, and the person who convinced me to do the act was classmate who disappeared the next year. It was just the shedding of pants and some light touching of privates, nothing further, and occurred in a corner of the school which was dim and unoccupied.
To the best of my knowledge it didn't happen again. Perhaps I said no the next time he asked and he didn't pursue (this is what I believe happened) or something else stopped him. I don't remember.
I don't know what happened to him, and nor am I interested in seeing him called out or anything like that; we were little kids. I doubt he had any more idea of what he was doing than I had of what he was making me do. I had rationalised that maybe he had seen it on television, or that he had seen the act done in his presence. But I'll never know these things now, and nor do I want to find and ask him these things. Heck, it happened well before I was educated about what it could possibly mean.
What I'd like to say is I'm only minutely concerned about what this reflects on me, but these days I'm not so sure. I don't know what to do about it; the experiences I read about on the internet about sexual encounters rarely have two children of the same age who do the bit and (at least with me) are hit with no resulting consequences. I'm female. I'm in my twenties now. The incident as I look back on it looks very, very bizarre. As my awareness about the implications of it expanded it started taking on an indescribable shape. This is a thing that could mark me for life yet at the same time it's a thing that doesn't really feel like a thing, because I felt very little impact from it growing up.
In a conversation about rape I feel irrelevant -- a statistical outlier. I don't know what to make of my experience and I'm afraid of giving ammo to the side that's less considerate. I feel that I don't want to diminish other women's experiences, but in the process I feel completely, and utterly alone. And completely unable to offer any emotional support, because my experience isn't anywhere remotely as bad. I got off lucky. So lucky. It breaks my heart.
Yet at times reading another woman's experience will bring out a feeling of confusion. I hesitate to say lack of sympathy. The lack of empathy, I think, bothers me. I'm not always left cold but sometimes I just struggle to feel anything and I feel bad about it. I've taken myself aside and told myself that my experience was tame and that I shouldn't bother anyone with it. Adding in my two cents will help nothing. I should respect the other women and give them their space.
Being a person who generally keeps to themselves the chances of me feeling remotely like bringing this up even if I feel it's relevant are low. But in the rhetorical scenario that I do bring it up, how do I frame it? Is there any sensible way to frame it at all?