Sunday, March 26, 2006

Coming Of Age

Earlier this morning D and I were have a light-hearted conversation about our coming of age experiences. He told me about his first sexual encounter at seventeen. She was his teacher. I was quick to be outraged "You were a minor. That makes it molestation" He burst out laughing "Hell no ! It was a welcome rite of passage. I got laid not molested. And I was more than willing"

Made me think of me at fourteen when I told my mother about a PT teacher touching me inappropriately and how she and my dad showed up at school to complain to the principal. How following my example, several other girls and their parents followed suit and how the principal fired the PT teacher within a month. All of us girls felt vindicated as did our incensed parents.

Whereas D's experience gave him the bragging rights among his friends who to quote him "wanted a piece of the action", I felt humiliated and victimized by mine and pretended it was a bad dream. So many years later, it was still hard to tell D about it today.

There is nothing new about D's story or mine. Nothing new in that boys are conditioned not to think of themselves as victims of sexual abuse even when they really are. D and I probably carry residual scars from our adolescence.

For very different reasons we would not think it might take therapy to heal us. To me it would be coming out of denial and ascribing significance to what I had thrust into oblivion, to him it would be a negation of the first affirmation of his manhood.

I would be guilty of reading too much into it and he of not reading anything at all. We were and are victims in different ways. Of the two of us, I felt sorrier for him because unlike me, he does not even know that he has a loss to mourn.

This is an example of gender stereotypes at work. A woman is not generally viewed as a perpetrator of sexual abuse when she can just as easily be. Infact the presumed innocence gives her protection than men don't get. In this case the teenaged boys labeled their teacher a “slut” and that was the extent of her punishment. To talk about it with parents would be whining and therefore un-manly. The contrast in our experiences could not be more glaring.

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