For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: sequelae. We don’t know what the sequelae to the Supreme Court vote is yet. But I am not going to stop speaking up and I hope more women speak up. And girls. So here are two experiences when I was a girl.
I start grade school in upstate New York. I am at the Northeast School. I don’t remember tons about it, except that it has ramps instead of stairs. I am failing to learn to read with phonics, which make no sense to me.
In first grade, I need to go to the bathroom. My teacher gives me a hall pass. This is not a kindergarten privilege.
Outside the girls’ bathroom are two boys. They are older than me. I don’t know them.
“You can’t go in unless you show us your underwear.”
I am wearing a dress. I stare at them.
“Show us your underwear.”
I go back around the corner and wait. Hoping they will leave. They don’t.
I need to go. I go and lift my skirt for a second, humiliation as they laugh. I hurry in to the bathroom.
I go back to the classroom.
I never go to the bathroom during class again. I am careful. I go before class starts and at lunch.
And I’ve never told anyone until now. And this was a grade school. How were the boys acculturated to behave this way already in grade school? And does this still go on? All the girls in my daughter’s school quit wearing skirts by second grade. Jeans only.
We move before fourth grade to another town.
The boundaries for the school districts change before sixth grade and I am bussed to a new grade school.
On the bus, a boy starts harassing me. I don’t know him.
“Show me your underwear.” he says. The other kids are watching.
I don’t answer, glare at him with scorn.
Each day he escalates.
“Show me your underwear.”
I pull a pair out of my bag the fourth day. “There. Now you’ve seen some.”
The other kids laugh, but it’s not enough. He keeps hassling me.
He starts reaching for my skirt from the seat in front of me.
I’ve had it. I play flute. But I also play piccolo.
The next day he starts up, “Show me your underwear.” He reaches towards my skirt from the seat in front. I have my hard piccolo case in both hands. I smash his hand as hard as I can, against the bus seat.
He screams and pulls his hand away, clutching it.
The bus driver looks in the mirror. He doesn’t slow down or stop.
The boy never bothers me again. And neither does anyone else on that bus.
I took the photograph when school started this year. This is our “city” bus. The Redhawks are our football team. I can’t think that football is good for us, but I thank the adults for this support for the high school students…..
Music gives me hope: this.