Start it young, keep them quiet


When I was in first grade, I was bullied almost every day by one boy in my class. I was quiet and shy and just tried to ignore his hurtful words and actions. One day, as I sat at my desk, he reached down, pulled on the waistband of my sweatpants and yelled out “Nice underwear!” Upset, I went to the teacher and told her what had happened. She scolded me for wasting her time with my tattling and told me to return to my seat. Up to that point in my six-year-old life, I had never felt so ashamed.

That same boy continued to harass me in school and on the bus for the next ten years and I never had the guts to report him again.

I learned at an early age that it’s #MFIF.



23 Responses to “Start it young, keep them quiet”

  1. V Says:

    This broke my heart. ):
    I’m so sorry this happened to you, L. I hope you now realize that you are worth defending and not being treated like that. You are important.

    It’s astounding that so many women have such a nonchalant attitude about this sort of thing, not to mention professionals (like the teacher in this story or the police officers or doctors in others or . . . well, you get the idea). -sighs-

  2. Enoon Says:

    A story in which the sex of every single person involved could be changed to any combination and it would read exactly the same. It’s sad, but it’s just a matter of childhood bullies being jerks and that teacher being unprofessional and not an ally of their students.

    • L Says:

      I believe this incident allowed him to keep bullying me. Over the years, he moved on from peeking at my underwear to regularly asking me for blow jobs on the bus, calling me “whore,” “bitch,” and “fag,” and making random ugly comments about my general appearance. I hated him, and there was nothing I could do about it. I don’t know what would have happened if the sexes of the people in my story were switched because I didn’t see any girls treating boys this way.

      • C Says:

        “I don’t know what would have happened if the sexes of the people in my story were switched because I didn’t see any girls treating boys this way.”

        Oh it happens, I assure you that this happens to boys as well. When I was a young boy, I would be bullied by girls as much by the boys. Actually there was more physical violence from the women than the men.

        Not on the sexist issue (and I do believe from the sound of it, this boy had sexist issues) I feel for you. Bullies and jerks who prey on what they perceive as weaker need to be handled immediately, this behavior devastates the victim. Very sad that teachers let this crap go, it can lead people to seeking routes of retribution, sometimes harmful.

      • Enoon Says:

        I didn’t mean to belittle your experience, it’s just that I had similar experiences with bullies when I was little and I’m male.

    • Alibelle Says:

      Yeah that’s not really true at all because there’s an undercurrent of sex involved here. A boy was pulling down a girls pants and the teacher did nothing, which plays into rape culture and victim blaming.

      I also see how reversing the sexes or making it boy on boy could be a very “my fault I’m male” situation where a boy should be able to stand up for himself. So it’s sexism any way you play it.

      It’s pretty important to consider the simple of aspect of underwear being involved as involving sex and gender heavily. Also, do not tell anyone on this site that it’s not sexism, men do that frequently and it needs to stop, you’re not female you do not decide. That being said you’ve been more respectful than most so that’s something I guess. You did however attempt to tell a woman she was wrong about the sexism involved in what was a clearly painful experience for her. Do you see how fucked up that is?

      • Lbutlr Says:

        Just because it’s painful doesn’t mean it’s sexism.

        “Life *is* pain, Highness.”

        I had a similar situation when I was also in first grade with a girl who was a complete bully. It wasn’t sexism, it was bullying. And yes, the teacher’s reaction was much the same. And so was my father’s reaction, who didn’t think it was a big deal at all and didn’t believe a ‘girl’ could be a bully. THAT was sexism.

  3. sitakali Says:

    I really don’t understand the whole “don’t tattle” philosophy of schools. Apparently, it is better to let the bully keep bullying and keep the victim quiet.

    • Jonathan Says:

      that way the school doesn’t have to deal with the problem

      • H Says:

        I absolutely agree, Jonathan. A lot of schools don’t want to create more work for themselves, and they know that only very rarely will a case of bullying get so bad it draws negative attention towards the school. I definitely experienced this when I was at school just a couple of years ago.

    • A Different Sam Says:

      I’ve always just seen the Don’t Tattle philosophy on the students’ end – which makes sense, since the kids with the power to decide the students’ philosophy will also be the kids who would lose power if tattling were considered acceptable. For the school and teachers to discourage contacting adults for help is absurd.

    • Alibelle Says:

      It’s shitty but makes sense at times if you’ve been in a grade school classroom recently. I was doing student teaching in one last semester and kids would tattle for any reason. They might want positive attention from teachers or sometimes tattling becomes a form of bullying. I saw a lot of kids tattle on other kids for tiny little pointless things because they didn’t like that kid. The teacher had a policy of “Is it hurting you or anyone else? If not don’t tattle.” Not a bad policy as long as the teacher can recognize when it is hurting someone and is willing to do something about it.

  4. Sarah Says:

    “…you’re not female you do not decide.”

    Surely that is just as sexist as that which we are trying so hard to fight, not to mention rude and disrespectful.

    Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I thought the whole ethos of this site was to promote equality and to fight arbitrary discrimination on grounds of gender, not to just turn it around the other way – surely such behaviour can only serve to discredit our cause.

    • Alibelle Says:

      It makes absolutely zero sense for men to be the ones to decide what is hurtful and sexist towards women. Based on the comments on this site alone that would mean that NOTHING was sexist.

      Also, we never would have gotten the vote, wouldn’t be able to own property, date rape would simply be seen as “women who regretted it the next morning” and so on if men were the ones who got to decide what was sexist and what wasn’t. While there are men who are pretty adept at spotting sexism, they can’t decide when it’s not because they aren’t the ones being hurt by it (when it is against women). Just like a white person does not get to decide what is and isn’t racist.

      Also I’m vastly confused as to how not allowing a man to control my -ism is sexist? I also don’t let straight people tell me what is and isn’t homophobic. And it’s not turning sexism around to not let men tell me sexism isn’t sexism, that’s simply standing up for feminism.

      “surely such behaviour can only serve to discredit our cause.”

      Men need to accept women as equals regardless of how angry we are or aren’t. I accept men as equals even when they’re sexist because they have the same abilities that I have whether they decide to use them or not.

      Acting like women have to fit some perfect mold (or acting like one woman stands in for all the feminists in the world) in order to not be seen as inferior to all men is sexist.

      Don’t act like I’m the reason feminism can’t have nice things. Regardless of how I act or do not act I am only one woman, and I do not represent all women or all of feminism, acting like I should behave a certain way or all of feminism will fail is pretty shitty if you ask me. But then apparently you wouldn’t, you’d ask a man instead?

      • Masha Says:

        .. White people can have other races be racist toward them. Please do not say “White people can not decide what’s racist”.

        Men can decide what’s racist toward men. White can decide what’s racist toward whites.

        “Cracker” and “Honky” sound pretty damn racist to me when a black calls me it 🙂 And no, I will not call a black African American because I am being called White instead of European American.

      • Alibelle Says:

        Yeah, okay, you clearly don’t understand privilege. Also my point was that a black person gets to decide what’s…Oh my god I’m not even arguing with you because nothing you just said has any merit.

      • Alibelle Says:

        Also you sound like a huge fucking racist. “A black”? Seriously what year is this? 1940?!?!

      • CH Says:

        Alibelle, I am so with you!

        I tried to explain this on another post, obviously not well.

        These arrangements are about who has power/privilege, and so white people can not be treated in a racist manner, because it doesn’t change the power arrangement and lead to black people oppressing white people. In this way, a woman can’t be sexist towards men.

        I think its problematic for these terms to be thrown around by men or white people, because it obscures the power structure and makes it appear that were just fighting some irrational behavior. We are not all on equal footing in society, and I think that its important to use these terms in ways that recognize this.

        This was my attempt by the way,

      • Alibelle Says:

        I saw that original post, and I definitely agreed with you. While POC and women and gays and all underprivileged groups can certainly be bigoted it only has any potential hurtfulness on a personal level. If someone decides to hate me for my race (assuming that they aren’t violent) it would only hurt my feelings. People of color could all decide that white people were dumber than rocks and shouldn’t be hired for any important jobs, but with the social power structure as it is, that probably would not affect a white person getting hired at all.

        I mean, there have been man hating feminist since the 70’s (feminists that truly hate men, not just regular feminists) and it doesn’t seem to have hurt men at all as far as how much power and oppurtunity they have. Women still don’t have the social power to do that.

  5. KIt Says:

    L, I am so sorry this happened to you. I hope it helps in some small way to know that I wouldn’t have happened in my classroom, or any of the others at the elementary school I teach at. There is a very strong commitment to preventing and reducing bullying, and we try very hard to make sure that all the kids know that if somebody does something that makes them feel uncomfortable there are ways to handle it.

    Alibelle, I had a poster in my previous classroom outlining when to come directly to me (illness, injury, violence, threats) and when to try to work out the issue using I-messages. That helped cut down on tattling. but it’s always understood that if they can’t resolve it, they come to me, no harm, no foul.

    • StarWatcher Says:

      KIt, I also work in the schools, and that poster sounds great. Did you buy it somewhere, or did you make it yourself? And if you did buy it, can you tell me where, or the name of it, so I could Google it? Thanks.

      • KIt Says:

        I made it myself, alas. We had an over-sized copier that would do posters. The text, if you would like to use it, is as follows:

        “I will tell the teacher if there is:

        Violence: Someone is hurting another person
        Injury: Someone is hurt or bleeding
        Illness: I feel very sick
        Threat: Someone has made me feel unsafe

        Otherwise, I will use an I-message.”

        Every class went over the poster with me (and also the I-message posters on the wall with it), came up with examples of when to tell and when not to, and agreed to use it. I think next year I’ll have a child in each class sign it on behalf of everyone, just to increase buy-in a bit.

  6. A.T. Says:

    Oh dear…. so sorry you’ve been “subdued” like that, to put it in the first crude word that comes to mind.

    I suppose it is also up to the parents on whether and how a child stands up for herself. My dad has always told me to not be afraid to stand up for myself. I was *very* shy as a child and silly minor things that some people wouldn’t even notice could easily make me upset. However, my dad’s encouragement has allowed me to never take BS from my peers and I never got in trouble at home for hitting back someone who has dared to physically offend me or one of the girls in our class who were too afraid to stand up for themselves.

    I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not pro-violence in any way but being able to stand up for yourself when needed actually significantly helps a child’s self esteem and often well-being. I know it helped me a lot later when we moved and I had to change schools going from a small community school where parents knew each other to a school about 5 times the size. I was twelve then and I had long hair most of my school years. For the life of me I could never understand why boys insist on pulling on the braids. Really hard to the point where involuntary tears come from your eyes. So, being quiet new kid in class I got harassed by some of the boys by the way of hair pulling and one of them actually insisted on trying to corner and grople me any chance he got. The hair pulling has ceased fairly fast after I told them off, however that one jerk didn’t give up in spite of repeatedly getting hurt by me (just a kick in the ankle here, head smack there) until I slapped his face so hard that tears came out of *his* eyes with a huge crowd of witnesses.

    *Disclaimer: none of these schools are *bad* in any way and we actually had a strong sense of community in our class (i.e. group of people you grow up with taking same lessons with same teachers). You have to realize that kids can be very cruel at times. Fortunately/hopefully they learn to be decent human beings as they experience their closed little world dramas, failures, and successes.

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