Speak Up

By: Aleysha Haniff

I was at one of those mandatory family get-togethers a few days ago, and I heard something quite strange.

At my cousin’s school, it seems that some boys routinely slap girls’ butts. Unsurprisingly, some of the girls don’t like it.

What’s crazier is that these kids are still in elementary school, no older than about 13.

“You know that’s sexual harassment, right?” I asked.

No answer. The principal knows about it, and threatened expulsion, but nothing’s really being done.

Why? Because the girls don’t really realize that there’s anything wrong with this, even if it’s making them uncomfortable. No one reports it and that’s a little scary.

I think people tend to forget the “unwanted touching” of sexual harassment and jump straight to sexual assault. Even lewd comments and looks can be hurtful. But it just turns into “boys will be boys” and the issue gets dropped.

In the Statistics Canada Violence Against Women report, published in 1993, 87 per cent of all women reported being sexually harassed.

They’re all feeling pressured to fit in, to look good, and to be approachable and fun. The girl who tattles, within this group of preteens, wouldn’t fill any of these categories so everyone just shuts up. It’s the typical submissive female role, being seen and not heard. In retrospect though, I can understand these girls’ motivations. I was the same when I was 13, too scared of confrontation to do anything.

It also ties into the neighbourhood’s vibe, according to my cousin. The “gangsta” scene is very cool in that area, and those boys are probably acting the way they think real homies would. Ass-slapping is actually seen as a defining characteristic of that neighbourhood, which is pretty disgusting.

But then again, those booty-shaking music videos are also gross. If kids are growing up on those, it’s no wonder they think their behaviour is OK.

I’m not condoning it, but I can’t totally blame either party. They obviously need to be taught how to properly evaluate the media and not buy into this hip hop, baby girl BS.

For more information:

Read the Ontario Human Right Commission or the Ontario Woman’s Directorate – read the section featuring girls’ reactions to sexual harassment.


One thought on “Speak Up

  1. there are so many stories like these, even that one a few years ago when that teen had said her school basketball team all had harrassed her but she never spoke up. There needs to be something done in high schools and middle schools.. girls think it is okay and that is the problem

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