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Sexual harassment in grade school - part of the problem?
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spike_train



Joined: 28 Apr 2007
Posts: 16


Location: Cambridge, MA

PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 10:39 pm    Post subject: Sexual harassment in grade school - part of the problem?  Reply with quote

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) did a study in 1993, and again in 2001, of bullying and sexual harassment in US public schools. You can read the summary of the 2001 report, and download the report itself, [url]here[/url]. The statistics are grim. Some of what they consider non-physical sexual harassment I find a little questionable, but even if one only looks at [i]physical[/i] sexual harassment, around half of students have been victims.

Note that I said "grim" rather than "shocking". I'm not shocked by the numbers at all. In middle school (for those not familiar with the US school system, a typical middle school is roughly ages 11-14), I spent a lot of time in gym trying to defend the "cute" girls (of which I was not one, because of my looks and dress) from a small number of boys who would chase after them and try to grope and/or corner and scare them. In certain hallways, it was quite common for boys to pull up girls' skirts or slap them on the butt as they walked by.

The school's eventual response to this, once they noticed a problem, was to make rules requiring girls' skirts and shorts to be a certain minimum length. Which did nothing, of course, except reinforce the idea that it's okay to blame the victim, and let the adults feel good about themselves so that they didn't have to go through the inconvenience of cracking down on the harassers.

I wonder how many girls develop vaginismus, and other problems, at least partly in response to this sort of treatment - either being a victim, or witnessing it firsthand and fearing being a victim?

The bit of good news from the study is that the 2001 numbers are down a bit from the 1993 numbers. So at least there have been baby steps in the right direction.[/i][/url]
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admin
Site Admin


Joined: 01 Apr 2007
Posts: 446



PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 10:08 pm    Post subject: Re: sexual harassment in school and vag. Reply with quote

Thank you Spike for the interesting though grim data.
Personally I have no problem believing there could be a link between being bullied and harassed at school and vaginismus for some girls, especially those young ones who know nothing about sex, and are told or shown very graphic things or touched sexually when they don't even know how to decipher those kind of gestures, or if noone around them is there to help them make sense of it, or to put the boys in their place.

Also, young people take things so at heart, it's all "a big deal" to them, so I guess some adults may see those things as pretty trivial, you know "boys being boys" etc.. but they are not at all. So maybe parents should be targeted too, not just the kids..

I guess many girls will even forget about such incidents or remove them in their unconscious minds etc. but then they grow up and vaginismus shows up and they wonder why, but instead of having a chance to go back to those years, find a meaning and maybe even get active about that, here comes a husband or doctor and tells them they are dysfunctional..

so then the cycle continues on..
unchanged. Unchallenged.

Well, since data showed some improvement, hopefully someone after all IS helping changing things.. You are too, by increasing awareness..

So thanks again for sharing that.

I'll go add 'school bullism and harassment' as one of the causes of vag. in the list.

Lily
_________________
"Vaginismus isn't the problem, the way society looks at sex is"
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Gayle



Joined: 10 Apr 2007
Posts: 17



PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 11:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh I know for sure that this kind of thing contributed to my vaginismus. I used to get so sick of boys in middle school and high school harrassing me, slapping my bum, groping me, asking me to have sex with them all the time.

The thing is, it is so common it has become the "norm". So you don't complain, you don't slap them back (but across the face), you just put up with it to fit in. I know if some guy did that to me now then I would probably hit him back but when you're a teenager you don't want to be singled out as some kind of prude, do you?

I think schools need to do more about that to be honest. I'm sure there are many girls who love the attention but there will also be many girls like me who hate/hated it. I just don't understand why boys think they have the right to do that? It makes no sense to me...

Love Gayle xxx
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spike_train



Joined: 28 Apr 2007
Posts: 16


Location: Cambridge, MA

PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="Gayle"]The thing is, it is so common it has become the "norm". So you don't complain, you don't slap them back (but across the face), you just put up with it to fit in. I know if some guy did that to me now then I would probably hit him back but when you're a teenager you don't want to be singled out as some kind of prude, do you?[/quote]

When I was a teenager (or a preteen, since this was middle school), I just didn't care if people thought I was a prude - the ironic thing about that was that I had more liberal views on sexuality than most of them. What did bother me was that there was one girl in particular that I'd try to help out, because she got harassed so much, and other kids would tell me not to. "You should mind your own business." "It's just flirting." "She likes it, why do you think she dresses like that?" That drove me crazy.

I'm guessing that boys think they have the right to do it because nobody's made it clear to them that it's unacceptable. Kids tend to learn what they are taught. And that's a problem for both girls and boys...

A lot of girls that I knew didn't want to risk getting in trouble for hitting the boy(s). They had been taught that it wasn't ever okay to hit anyone, and they took it to heart. My attitude was that if a guy ever grabbed me, he was going to get hit. And the guys were largely not dumb enough to try - why go after me when there were plenty of (cuter) girls who wouldn't fight back? There was one time when a guy in gym grabbed me around the waist from behind and lifted me up, and I kicked him in the kneecap. He dropped me and I walked off. As it turned out, he likely didn't mean any harm, he was an okay guy who was just horsing around, but I didn't feel much remorse, because he was the one who grabbed me from behind in an environment where girls were getting assaulted all the time.

I think that there should be more self-defense training for girls, to overcome the way that they are socialized to not be violent even in self-defense. And schools need to get serious about stopping sexual harassment/assault on their grounds, not come up with useless, victim-blaming "solutions". It really annoys me that schools will do more to crack down on students who are consensually kissing by their lockers than students who are doing something non-consensual.
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jenna



Joined: 18 May 2007
Posts: 4



PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2007 3:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i personally feel like i was more harassed by girl than i was guys.

i am still new to this whole idea of vaginismus. ive always had these feelings but never knew there was a name for it. i never knew there were others who were experiencing the same things i was.

that said, my boyfriend is very supportive of me. my girl friends, on the other hand, are vicious. they openly talk about their sex lives (which i have no problem with.. to each his own), and then poke and prode at me to tell them why i havent had sex with my boyfriend of two years yet. they make me feel stupid and inferior because of this, and they call me prude and other things of that nature.

ive been way to scared to tell them the real reason why i havent been able to have sex yet. i usually just lie and tell them that i dont feel comfortable talking about those things, or that i want to wait for marriage.

i feel like these girls continuously harass me. they make me feel embarassed and ashamed of myself. they make me think things like "why me" and "why cant i just be normal"

im sorry im kind of babbling, but sharing this information is completely new to me. and honestly, it feels really nice knowing that im not alone and that there is hope for me to overcome this.
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Kathryn



Joined: 07 May 2007
Posts: 11


Location: Scotland, UK

PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2007 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

aww poor you! its so horrible that your friends treat you like that!

ive spoke about it with a few of my friends, my very close ones, and theyve always been very supportive about it, although they do ask some very random questions.

i dont think you should be ashamed of vag, although its not the kind of thing you could tell many people about because so few people actually seem to understand it. i hope you can find someone that you know to talk to about it with. at least you can come on here and have a big rant about it!

its great that your boyfriends supportive. having someone close to you that understands is a great thing. and anyway, you dont need to have penetration to have fun with him!
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jenna



Joined: 18 May 2007
Posts: 4



PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2007 4:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks kathryn! im so glad i found this place! its nice talking to people who finally understand! Smile
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Gayle



Joined: 10 Apr 2007
Posts: 17



PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2007 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Jenna,

I'm so sorry that your "friends" act like that and make you feel stupid and inferior. Clearly it is them who are stupid if they think that all there is to a relationship is penetrative sex... and if they think you are a prude because you haven't had sex with your boyfriend of two years they are even stupider!

You don't need to tell them the reason why you haven't had intercourse, they have no right to know. If you are happy telling them you want to wait until marriage then do that, or if you prefer just tell them that it is none of their business. You should be able to do, or not do whatever you like without being judged, especially by people who are supposed to be your friends.

Don't be embarassed about vag hun, you are perfectly normal and you shouldn't be ashamed at all. You never asked to have vaginismus, it is a medical condition and everyone in the world has medical issues at some point right?

There is certainly hope of you overcoming vaginismus, in fact there is something like a 99% success rate for people trying to cure it so nothing to worry about there. Can I ask, have you started to look into how to overcome it? Or are you already in the process? I hope you don't mind me asking, I would like to help you out wherever possible so if you have any questions about dilating or anything then please just ask...

You will overcome this, just stay positive and stay strong and remember that whatever people want you to think, sex isn't everything. You are a wonderful person who deserves to be loved regardless of your ability to have penetrative sex.

Love Gayle xxx
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jenna



Joined: 18 May 2007
Posts: 4



PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2007 5:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wow, thank you so much! that really was like.. the nicest thing anyones ever said to me regarding this topic. im really glad i found this place.. everyone is so nice and supportive!

well, i am in the process of looking into ways of overcoming it. i just recently heard about the whole dilating process, and ive looked at those kits that they sell. but to be honest, even the smallest one looks scary and intimidating to me. i think im going to have a really hard time working my way through this. any advice anyone has would be greatly appreciated!
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Gayle



Joined: 10 Apr 2007
Posts: 17



PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, well you don't need to buy a kit to start off with, in fact you don't need to buy one at all because there are plenty of other things you can use to dilate but for now it's probably best to forget about that for a while anyway.

It sounds like you just need to take things really slowly and work up to the point where you can look at something and not feel scared or intimidated at the thought of inserting it. A good place to start, and where lots of us started, is to get to know your vagina. Look at diagrams and learn exactly what each part is and what it does. And then maybe try and look at your own vagina in a mirror and relate what you see to what you have learnt. It is quite normal for you to look and see that "you don't have a hole".... of course you do have a hole but it sometimes looks as though you don't or as though it is very small simply because your muscles might be tensing and making the hole LOOK really small... but remember it isn't really that small and your vagina can stretch to the size of a baby's head so it can certainly accomodate a penis!

Maybe after doing that you might want to touch your vagina and get used to that. Get used to doing it without feeling panicked and teach yourself that nothing is going to try and penetrate you unless you want it to. You could even get your boyfriend to do the same thing but make sure he knows not to try and insert his finger into you, just touching is fine for now.

Then when you feel ready you can try to insert something, even if it is just inserted a centimetre, it is still progress and something to be proud of. You might want to try it with a q-tip or a very slim tampon applicator, or your little finger, or your boyfriend's little finger... or you could make your own dilator. Some people like to shave candles down to the right size, or even vegetables but remember to use a condom with these to avoid any chance of infection. You might feel a little weird about using your finger to dilate, I did at first, and something that helps a lot of women to do that is wearing those surgical latex gloves, you know the thin rubbery ones? So you could try that if you feel uneasy about using your fingers.

After that, you have started the dilating process and from then on it is just a case of inserting something slightly bigger (in width) each time you "conquer" a dilator and feel ready to move up to a bigger size. Most women consider a dilator to be "conquered" when they can insert it a few inches in (so it passes the PC muscles) and when they can do it without pain every time they try to do it. Always remember to do everything at your own pace, you have your whole life ahead of you so there is no rush to overcome vaginismus. Also, respect your vagina. I know it sounds silly, but if you respect her, don't pressure her and make sure you always stop if you feel any pain, then your vagina, and your muscles, will learn to trust you and to let your brain decide when they should or shouldn't let something in.

Most women feel a slight burning, or stretching feeling at some point when they go through the dilating process and I guess it is up to you to judge what is "normal" and what is just a bit too painful. If it burns a lot then stop and try again another time. As I said, there's no rush. Just do what you feel is right and move forward at the pace which you feel is right. And certainly don't ever feel pressured by those friends of yours being nosey!

Hope that helps,

Love Gayle xxx

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