Tag Archives: katie

When Your Boyfriend Is In Your Class

3 May

by Katie

When your boyfriend is in your class, never seem too smart. Especially when he has a lower grade than you do. Don’t squash his confidence by being smarter than he is. When your teacher asks for a summary of the Volstead Act and you know it inside and out, don’t answer. It’s the smart thing to do.

Even after you break up, you have to continue the act. If you’re too smart, no one will want to be your boyfriend again. You know the history of the Iran-Contra Affair better than any other student does. When you say that the Contras were from Nicaragua, make sure to pronounce “Nicaragua” slowly and without confidence. When your teacher asks about who the Contras fought, pronounce “Sandinistas” incorrectly. When your teacher asks about how Iran was involved, make sure to answer incorrectly. Explaining all that minutia about Israel, the Iran-Iraq War, and the covert Swiss bank account is incredibly unattractive.

Your teacher is disappointed that you “didn’t know”. But you are happy that you answered incorrectly. A new boyfriend will come to you in no time.

 

 

Prom

7 Dec

*TRIGGER WARNING* This piece contains accounts of sexual harassment.

by Katie

The boys on my cross country team have an offensive sense of humor. After practice one day, the team was talking and playing Frisbee. A freshman boy started making jokes.

“Oh hey, George, I’m going to rape you if you don’t run faster! Run faster! Run! Run!”

The atomic clock on the scoreboard couldn’t seem to move any slower as George ran away.

“I’m going to rape you! I’m going to rape you!”

The black numbers of the clock turned from 8:13 to 8:14 to 8:15. With each change of the numbers, I felt the tears creeping up to the sides of my eyes. I refused to take the taunting anymore.

“Okay, stop, rape jokes aren’t funny! Rape isn’t funny!” I asserted firmly.

“Um, no, rape is hilarious,” George replied, chucking me the Frisbee.

I fumbled with the Frisbee. It’s never been easy for me.

The tears started threatening me again, but I refused to let them control me. “No, rape is never funny. It’s used to dehumanize people,” I challenged as I gripped the Frisbee tighter and tighter.

“Why are you so emotional about this,” the freshman idiot taunted. “Men get raped too!”

Incredulous, I snapped, “I never said only women are raped!”

“Were you ever raped?”

“What? No! Of course not! And that’s not a question that you ask other people!” I half-screamed.

“Then why are you so upset?” George challenged me with a taunting sing-song tone.

“Because rape isn’t funny,” I replied coldly as a chill ran down my arms.

“Whatever. Wanna play some Frisbee?” the ignorant freshman asked.

“No thanks, I have to go home now,” I replied calmly, placing the Frisbee on the field and walking to the car.

But why was I really so upset?

Prom.

I had a crush on this guy for the entire year. He was best friends with one of the nicest, most hard working boys on the cross country team. He was smart (or so I thought), he was kind (or so I thought) and he was trustworthy (or so I thought).

I was a sophomore. He was a senior.

I was 15. He was 18.

At the end of the long evening, as we were standing in line for the coat check I could feel the ugly red blisters forming on my pinkie toes from my high heels. I stood patiently with my arms over my chest, making small talk with him. He stepped out of line and turned to face me. He opened his mouth in the way that people do when they have something of vital importance to say.

“Um, were you going to say something?” I asked, raising my eyebrows, confronted with a date whose mouth was gaping like that of a fish whose bowl had shattered.

He hung his head, embarrassed and sheepish. “Oh, it’s nothing.”

I took a long breath in and stated, “Okay, well, if you change your mind, I’m right here.”

After a few seconds of distraught contemplation he blurted out, “Can I kiss you?”

HERE? NOW?!?!? IN FRONT OF ALL MY FRIENDS?! UH, HELL TO THE NO!

Appealing to his sense of decency, I reasoned with him, “In front of all these people?”

He shrugged and leaned.

Every alarm in my body was screaming. The flashing red lights blurred my vision.

“THINK! WHAT DO I DO TO AVOID A KISS?” I screamed inside my head as his lips came closer and closer and closer. His eyes were closed. I could just run for it? But he was my ride home!

I suddenly remembered a book in which the character turned her face to so the undesired kiss would land on her cheek instead of her lips. I tilted my head too late. His lips landed half on my cheeks, half on my lips. I felt the dull thud of a lead weight being dropped on my heart. Seventeen Magazine lied to me. Everyone lied to me. My first kiss didn’t make me feel like flying, it made me feel like crying and running away. I went into survival mode. I needed to send the signal that I wasn’t interested. I stood with my eyes locked ahead, focused solely on obtaining my purse.

 “We need to try that again. That one wasn’t good enough,” he demurred.

I pretended to not hear.

Three agonizing minutes later with my purse finally in hand, I made my way to the door. But first, he tugged me into a corner.

 “Hold on a sec,” he purred, his hand on my lower back, corralling me towards his body. He closed his eyes and leaned in, closer and closer and closer and closer.

 I pulled him in for a hug and whispered, “No, no. I’m sorry, but no.”

 He finally relented.

As we walked out of the hotel ballroom, he kept trying to apologize.

“I hope this doesn’t ruin our friendship. I really like you. I want to keep seeing you. I really like you. I hope this doesn’t ruin our friendship. You know, I am going to college close by, so I hope we can keep seeing each other.”

All I was able to say was, “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay,” as I hobbled from the long night while chills ran up and down my body in the warm air on the May night. My repetitive speech of it being “okay” was mainly to myself, only partly to him. I would most definitely not being seeing him over the summer or while he would be in college nearby. Or ever.

His father picked us up from the hotel and we drove home. As my date and I sat in the backseat, I noticed he hadn’t bothered to put on his seatbelt. He simply pouted and stared out the window with his empty head held up by his enormous fist.

We finally parted ways forever when I broke up with him the next Tuesday. It was the right thing to do. The lead weight I felt on my heart was lifted. I felt like I could fly.

Though one thing remained. My first kiss was forced.

It’s been a struggle for me to define what happened. Was it assault? Was it sexual harassment?

Assault has too many implications for me. It implies that the coercion was violent. But sexual harassment is perceived to be trivial and unimportant, so I need a stronger word to embody the anger and sadness and anxiety I felt and even occasionally still feel. I need a word for the amount of Nutella with warm toast I consumed afterwards. I need a word for the hours I spent talking to my best friend. I need a word for the panic that washed over me when he appeared on my Facebook newsfeed. I need a word for the joy I felt when my friend reassured me that I could finally defriend him. I need a word for the worry I feel that made me not write this under my real name.

I can’t call it assault if he went to my school. According to the media, assault is only supposed to happen when you don’t know your attacker. To call it assault makes the experience real.

Miss Pink Tights

17 Oct

by Katie

On June 21st, 2013 I decided to do an extra hard workout at my high school’s track to help improve my chances for a spot on the cross country team in the fall. The only thing motivating me to finish on that sweltering day was that fact that I would be turning 16 the next day. According to Mexican culture, I was supposed to have transformed into a woman already. Many Mexican girls have a traditional, elaborate fifteenth birthday celebration, called a quince. I had a modern sort of quince; I just went to the beach with my family over my birthday weekend, but it’s not as if I felt any different afterwards. Maybe being sixteen would be different, I thought. Maybe when I would turn sixteen I would become woman. When would I have my metamorphosis? And what is a woman, anyway?

I nailed my workout into the ground on the humid, 95-degree June day.  As I felt the warm, stinging, salty sweat run down my face, I saw the heat rising off of the track in steamy waves. Just completing the workout made me feel like a total “badass,” as Coach Moore would have said if he had seen me. Popping my hip up and out as I took a long drink of hot water, I had a triumphant walk of a champion. I felt confident about going to states in November! I had put on my favorite t-shirt and new electric pink spandex shorts to make me extra confident for my run, and it worked! Though, I was also worried that maybe my new shorts were too tight.

All the little people in my brain were arguing back and forth: “Katie, you look like a total whore wearing those shorts! Everyone makes fun of That One Girl who feels the need to show everyone her ass all the time. Don’t be That Girl. Those tight spandex will ruin your reputation,” Conservative Katie warned.

“Hey, it’s not my fault if a boy thinks I’m attractive while I’m running in shorts and a cutoff t-shirt. It’s really hot out! We wear spandex for track meets; it can’t be that inappropriate. Anyway, I am going to be at the track; it’s not like there are drivers there that can honk at me and catcall,” Feminist Katie reasoned.

I was jogging slowly in the soupy heat, rounding off the 200-meter backstretch. I saw some football players talking and laughing past the gate that connected the track and the lacrosse practice field. Look down, look down, I remembered. Don’t make eye contact. I chanted in my head: chingate, chingate, chingate, my silent Spanish curse to force them to ignore me.

But then Reasonable Katie reminded me: “Not all guys who are talking and laughing while looking at you are necessarily laughing and talking and looking at you. The guys at your school aren’t going to catcall you and say something inappropriate.”

“Yeah!” Low Self Esteem Katie chimed in, “Stop flattering yourself; you’re not attractive enough that a guy would even want to hoot at you.”

Embarrassed for my vain thoughts, I kept running. I rounded out the 200-meter mark. The clock read 2:15 pm. It was too hot. I was dizzy. I hadn’t hydrated properly. Coach Moore would have been disappointed. I swerved a little to the side. My foot rolled over a pothole in the track. Stupid pothole. I started tripping. I looked up as I wriggled around, trying to prevent myself from rolling my ankle. The boys and I made eye contact. Quickly, I ducked my head. I adjusted my ponytail so they couldn’t see my face. The boys. They were all crammed into the athletic director’s golf cart-maintenance truck hybrid. There were some short, squirrely freshmen boys standing in the flat rear part of the cart. There were two older boys, seniors who were sitting up front. I knew who they were, but I denied it to myself for a while afterwards. The sweat ran down into my eyes and my mouth. I could taste the bitterness. I was inhaling, doing my silent curse and praying that the eye contact had gone unnoticed. But their voices were getting louder. I saw them nudge each other again. I inhaled. I held my breath. The boy I knew hooted something. “Hey, pink tights!” Another seconded the call, “YEAH! You go, pink tights!”  They all laughed deep from their bellies and sped away. The boy I knew drove.

Pink tights.

I hear it from landscape vans. I hear it from middle aged men. I hear it from speeding cars and I even hear it from Jewish boys walking down Main Street to get to Friday evening services.

I never hear it at school.

Once I got home, I cried and holed up with my computer for an hour. I’m a member of a Facebook group that is a gay-straight alliance (GSA) for students in the DC area who are allies of the community that surrounds the vlogbrother videos. Everyone in the group is always supportive. I uploaded a rambling post about what happened to the group Facebook wall. The track was always safe. How could I have dressed so horribly as to provoke this? Was this incident even enough to report? Or am I just a bitchy feminist? Once I tell the football coach and the administration about this, I thought, they are just going to laugh at me and tell me it’s no big deal. They’re just going to say that I was asking for it. Jesi, one girl in the GSA whom I really admire, commented on my post, “Yes, it’s totally valid to be creeped out and want to report them; what they were doing was not okay.”

I agreed with Jesi that I would send an email. But first I created a new email address, misspinktights@gmail.com. That way, no one would need to know about who I was and I wouldn’t be harassed if the football players were in trouble and people started to blame me. I drafted and edited a long email to the head coach of the football team explaining everything that happened. But I didn’t mention the boy’s name.

I copied the 10th grade Assistant Principal, the 12th grade Assistant Principal, and the athletic director on the email. After making my third edit, I became anxious again and I started crying. I didn’t ask for any of this. All I did was wear clothing that made me feel confident and kept me cool on a hot day. I just wanted to forget everything that happened.

But if I never stand up for my right to wear what I want, then who will?

Who else would make sure that these boys, who were soon to be men, would treat all women with respect? I commented on the post, “And email sent.” Rapidly, my computer kept making this repetitive pinging sound. It was the sound of Facebook notifying me that five people liked the comment.

Then, one of my best friends from the GSA, Hannah, sent me a message that read, “You are seriously the best im so sorry you were subjected to them because they make me SICK.” All the support that was pouring in made me cry a little at my computer desk.

I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t alone.

From Jesi, who helped me stop blaming myself, to Hannah who showed me that even people at my own school found this behavior despicable, to all the people in between who simply liked the comment that read, “And email sent.” That meant the world to me.

The 10th grade Assistant Principal and the head Coach of the football team both emailed me back a few days later and apologized that I had to go through the experience. The Coach assured me that he would, “Find out who was responsible because this sort of behavior will not be tolerated by [my] players.”

I’m actually glad that this happened. I am so proud that I said something. I have no idea if the boys were ever even punished. I just hope that the players and their coach know that we won’t tolerate this. I know that I can’t change the whole world’s ideas about the objectification of women in one step. I know that if I’m running on the road that I can expect some idiot to hoot out his window because he thinks my ass looks good or whatever, but I drew a line at this kind of behavior happening at school.

I do know that I did become a woman on the last possible day of my fifteenth year, just like I was supposed to when I celebrated my quince. I stood up for what I believe in and for how I want to be treated. Jesi couldn’t have pressed the send button for me while I was getting the new wave of anxiety. I had to do it myself. As a woman, I hope to embody what Gloria Steinem once said: “Whenever one person stands up and says ‘wait a minute, this is wrong,’ it helps other people to do the same.”