I am totally new to this thing. I guess you could say that I am new to Feminism as well. Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am 21 years old and I am in school for Human Services. I had a male teacher last year for a Drug and Alcohol class that totally enlightened me to the world of feminism. He was one of our school’s only teachers that taught classes like Victimology and Self Esteem Strategies, which after taking one of his classes I am definitely taking those classes with him next semester. When talking about Society’s views on drug addiction and alcoholism he made it a point to bring up things like rape, molestation, eating disorders, and other subjects that are just coming to light as something that men suffer from as well, but historically have been centered around women.
Thinking back to my early years I have always been sort of proud to be a woman. I developed my gender identity in a very free-spirited way. I played with Tonka trucks and I got my clothes dirty as well as skinning my knees after leaping from a tree pretending I was Tarzan. I played “cops and robbers” with the neighborhood kids and always insisted that I was a cowGIRL when playing “cowboys and indians”. Then I would go inside and play with my easy bake oven while wearing one of my various Disney princess dresses. I never thought of things being gender specific, and I didn’t really grow up in a home that defined “gender roles”. We were free to be whoever we wanted, really. My personality fit almost perfectly into that of Scout from “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
As I grew up, and discovered the world of boys and training bras, I started to feel embarrassed about the way my face was filling out or the fact that I now had these things called “hips” to factor into the equation. I remember the uneasiness that I felt inside when I was first leered at by a male that, just a few short years earlier, had rubbed dirt in my face while playing “wrestlemania”. I remember him asking if he could “touch my butt” and telling him “NO” in a loud and aggressive manner. This was a lesson that I undoubtedly learned from my older sister who, when she was in the 6th grade had punched a boy in the face for touching her butt. While I was too young at that point to remember the actual event, I remember my parents recalling it when I got to that age and how my dad marched out of the principal’s office after she was suspended with the biggest grin on his face, or how my mother high fived her when she got home.
During Junior High I discovered things like alcohol and marijuana and parties and I immediately fell into that lifestyle. I soon found myself in the grips of the early stages of what would later become an enduring and ferocious drug addiction. To keep it short, I started to lose my identity and my beautiful childlike innocence. I did things like sneak out of the house to meet boys and drink whatever we could steal from our parent’s liquor cabinet. This was the beginning of me discovering my sexuality, and unfortunately I did that in an intoxicated and depression-riddled state of mind.
My best friend was dating a guy at that time who fell into the stereotypical “attractive popular male” category. The one that bounced from girl to girl with an ease and comfort that was pretty typical for the Junior High dating scene. One night over the weekend me and this particular male found ourselves in each other’s company without my best friend. Another friend of ours had invited us, as well as others, over to drink with her over the weekend. As I commonly did in the presence of alcohol, I drank beyond the point of being able to remember a thing. I had passed out in her room about an hour after hogging a bottle of vodka. I woke up the next morning in a pool of my own vomit on the floor of my friends bedroom. It was then that she told me what had happened. After I had passed out, my best friends boyfriend “had sex” with me. I asked her if I had hooked up with him before I passed out or if it looked like we were flirting with each other, not fully understanding why that would of happened. Thinking maybe I brought it on myself by giving him the wrong message. After all, my perception of the night was obviously skewed. She recounted what had happened with a nonchalance that I interpreted to mean it was all perfectly normal. Before I knew it, rumor of my indiscretion hit the streets. I brushed it off the best I could, no matter how big that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach got. Internally, I knew that what had happened to me was wrong. I just didn’t know exactly why. I hadn’t learned much about rape. I thought surely because I was drunk that I brought it on myself. It wasn’t until my best friend called me, begging me to tell her that it wasn’t true, that I would “never do that to her and betray her trust,” that I felt the weight of what had happened. As she hurled insults at me over the phone I started to feel what I would later find out is pretty common for girls in my situation. I was dirty. I was not worth love and I was now not only a bad friend but I was a bad person. How could I do that to her? How could I let my guard down and allow her boyfriend to take advantage of me when I was unconscious? In my adolescent mind I did not see the preposterous ideology with that way of thinking. All I knew was that what happened was my fault and I was now officially a “slut”.
Consequently, I proceeded into High School continually finding myself in situations similar to the one I just described. I had the self esteem of a rock and began to define myself in terms of what boys told me. My quest to define my sexuality continued in a strayed and abnormal course. I left my self image up to what people thought about me. I was who my peers deemed me to be. I didn’t tell any adult what had happened and I hid my traumas and my resulting depression from the sight of my parents. I relied on children my age to provide knowledge that they didn’t have either. I watched the pretty, worthwhile, funny and strong little girl I started out to be turn into a “monster” and what I found between my legs was the very reason why I was bad.
I eventually dropped out of high school before ending up in an adolescent treatment center for drug and alcohol addiction. I now have 4 years of complete sobriety. When I look back at my story I feel a sense of pride where disgust and shame used to live. I am well on my way to being a woman of self esteem with endless amounts of love and experience to share. Which is why I started this account. I wanted to share with other women who have found themselves looking in the mirror thinking “I am dirty because of what someone else did to me.” These are thoughts that have been engrained in my head during adolescence and my reason for going through those situations, I am finding, is to share it with girls and to help keep them educated about things like rape, victim blaming, and self esteem in general. I am now able to go to school and receive an education regarding things of this nature. The more I learn, the more I feel empowered and the more information I am able to share with the powerful young women I am surrounded by every day.