“It was a game that everyone but me seemed to love. I was a girl who mostly hung around boys because I hadn’t yet learned that female friendships, though infinitely more confusing, were also infinitely more rewarding. I was the self-professed type who loudly preferred spending time with men over spending time with women because they were less dramatic and complicated. And so I surrounded myself with boys who found it funny to grab my body when I least expected it, and were spurred by my discomfort to push me further and more painfully.
The game ended the night that Tom*, the one who always grabbed me, did it to me again while we were walking up a flight of stairs. Familiarly, everyone laughed and I tried to join them, desperate to appear easygoing and in on the joke despite being the literal and figurative butt of it. But suddenly, the effort of it all—the smiling, nervous chuckling, and eye rolls that I had allowed myself over the past several months—sickened me. It felt like I was choking on my own vomit of anger and humiliation. To save myself, I’d have to spew my own bile. And so I turned and punched Tom directly in the groin.
The satisfaction of the moment blazed and died quickly. He collapsed to the ground, gripping himself, hissing, “You are a fucking bitch. You are a fucking bitch,” over and over again. I laughed an awkward bark of a laugh, but no one joined in this time. No one said anything at all until minutes later when we were walking—them in a pack, and me trailing behind—to our local video store. Michael, my best male friend, hung back to keep me company.
“I get that you’re mad and don’t like it when Tom grabs you like that,” he said and I exhaled a sigh of gratitude. “But what you did…” I sucked my breath in again, “…You just don’t do that to a guy. Ever.”
It’s a small relief that I didn’t feel ashamed of myself. Instead I felt disappointed in Michael, in Tom, in every other boy that now, on our walk, avoided me because I had crossed a line and hit back.”
Have you ever kept on ‘horsing around’ after someone said “no” or displayed signs of discomfort. Well, stop it. Don’t be like Tom, he’s a boundary ignoring asshole.