Dear Parents: Yes, You’re All Responsible
“Tasha, peluk Kevin dong,”
My Mother said to me as my Uncle held a camera on his hand. I just stood there and didn’t say a word.
“Ayo Tasha cepetan, Om nungguin nih”
Why would I want to hug another boy my age I barely know? That’s just awkward.
Coming from my Mother who’s an adult that cares for me, I guess doing it just made sense. What do I know— I’m just a five year old girl who looks up to my Mother for validations on everything I do.
I leaned in awkwardly and gave this boy a hug— a boy whom I just learned what his name is probably an hour ago or so.
As both of our families get excited over the photo-op, I released his body from my arms right away. They seem to be having fun with this.
I’m fifteen years old now. I have some rough idea about sexuality, but it was never taught beyond the biological aspects of it, the diseases surrounding it, and the sacrecy of actions of it. I know that deriving pleasure from sex is wrong, and I know that exploring it is a taboo—
all of which is so, so wrong for something that is a part of my body and a grab away from my own hand. An organ that I have to tend to at least a couple times a day to clean, and an organ responsible for bleeding around once a month during my period.
I couldn’t help it, I’ve explored that forbidden part of my body that is my own vagina, and I’ve flicked and touched it and know that if stroked just right, would feel pleasurable— alas, I don’t know much about it aside from intending to refrain sexual intercourse until marriage because you can’t reverse your virginity back. Once you do it, you’d be committing to a deadly sin.
I am bullied in school, and I think that I’m unattractive. But apparently, I met this guy six years older than me who likes me. He started talking to me online on a social media. That’s so cool! I never had a guy liked me before, and everyone around me has had their own dating stories. So I said yes when he phoned me through landline and asked me if I wanted to be his girlfriend. We’ve met twice briefly before this.
He came over to my house, and we were in my family’s livingroom that has no doors that we could close for more privacy, but also quite secluded by the walls surrounding it. He started shoving his body ontomine with a grinding motion.
Whoa. I was so unexperienced that I didn’t know what he was doing and why was he doing it. I didn’t do anything to react to it because I was really clueless. He started grabbing my body and his hand was going to grab my breasts, so I panicked and shunned his hand. He said sorry. He
continued with the grinding motion and started making out with me and again, he was flailing his hands around my body, and onto my breasts. I just told myself that maybe I was just being childish, so I just let him.
His hand went under my school uniform skirt. Once again I was uncomfortable and shunned his hand again, but alas, it didn’t stop him. I didn’t fight him hard enough even though I was uncomfortable because I was just an inexperienced teenager that had never dated before.
Afterwards, he had talked me into having sex, but I felt uncomfortable. He would push my head into his groin for me to put his penis into my mouth. He would stick his finger up my vagina. He would
ask me to touch his penis and stroke it a certain way. I did them all but actual penetration because I just thought that was a mature person would do. As a teenager, I really want to be seen as a grown up, although I was uncomfortable and didn’t really like it because his penis always smells bad. I’m tired of being treated as someone incompetent due to my age. I want to be an adult like he is.
Now I’m twenty years old. I now live in Portland in the United States in the state of Oregon. I’ve made some new local friends, and we would all hangout in one of our apartments drinking wine from the box.
One time, I was hanging out with my friend Beth and Daniel in Daniel’s apartment. These are my good friends that I constantly hit up to hangout with. We were pretty buzzed from the cheap wine we bought next door. I guess we shared three-litres of wine amongst three of us. We were talking and having a great laugh as usual, and Beth decided to go home first. It was just me and Daniel in his place. I feel comfortable enough around him. We’re just friends that poke fun of each other, and we’d hug like we would to our other friends.
We were sitting next to each other on his couch, and we were talking about some deep stuff until he shoved his fingers up my vagina. I was taken aback (like anyone would) and I pushed myself away. “Whoa, stop!” I told him as I pushed back. It didn’t seem to faze him and he said “Why not? You’re wet, you’re all turned on.” I kept telling him to stop as I was shoving him away from my body. It took him a while to stop, but his statement made me believe that it wasn’t wrong of him
because my vagina was secreting fluid, the biological reaction that happens when a woman is turned on. I just acted normal after the rustle to make him stop, and slept over in his place because I was tipsy and it was cold outside. I didn’t want to walk. We slept as he was spooning me. I guess I only have a vague idea to draw where the line between a friendly gesture and a beyond-friendly gesture? So I let him. I let my sex abuser cuddle me to sleep.
I’m 26 years old now. I’ve had to endure a number of sexual harassments that I hadn’t given consent to in my lifetime that I am not mentioning here. There had been ones that I knew were blatant harassment that I could escape from, which were the easier ones, there had also been instances where the sexual assault happened when I had no power to fight back due to the danger I could be exposed to if I were to fight, in which I was forced to comply—those scared me to death, like, I don’t want to be thrown off the hill while I was climbing up the famous Hollywood Hill.
At that time I got onto the wrong track and ended up climbing and crouching through the hill, beating the bushes and shrubs that grew on it— literally on my four limbs with lousy fitness level and zero climbing experience. I was followed by a middle-aged man that was a lot bigger than me and asked me if I got beaten off track, in which I said yes. He told me to just follow him up back to the main-street, and I whewed because I thought I’d literally die there. He kept grabbing my hand along the way and grabbed his own genitalia with my hand. I was scared to death to stand firm as he could easily hit me with one blow and I’d be rolling off the hill— at the same time, I couldn’t condone it, so I just faintly said stop. That statement wasn’t enough. He kept telling me I was beautiful and hot, as well as exotic— all the adverbs you would use to compliment an Asian woman if you were a Caucasian man.
Grabbing his balls wasn’t enough. He went reaching for my breasts and went into my clothes and just fondled me while we were crouching on our limbs with bushes within our way uphill. It was terrifying— but it was more terrifying if I were to be firm on my dismay of being groped
by a stranger. He had the power in him to kept sexually assaulting me while he gave me compliments on my Asian look. I just wanted this to end.
We got up to the main-street and told me to wait there as he offered me a ride to my Airbnb house. I pretended to agree on that offer, and I just hailed the next available taxi on the street. I didn’t care how much it would cost me to get to my accommodation that was far away from there down in the Venice Beach area. We all know that taxi fares in Los Angeles ain’t cheap— but I didn’t care. I was too scared to run into him again.
There was another instance in 2013 in Melbourne where I had the nerve to hitch a ride from a stranger as I was lost to the nearest trainstation. A middle-aged man saw me and offered a ride because I looked obviously lost. Upon getting out of the car, he asked to touch my legs as “they are beautiful.” Of course me declining wasn’t enough of a sign to stop him— he just caressed it as I had my other foot out the car. I just walked off to the trainstation unfazed.
I should’ve been enraged. A man, once again, invaded my territory. Why didn’t I do anything? Why didn’t I have it in my rationale to mentally write down his plate number and file a report? However, I also felt like I put myself into it as an easy bait for assault. It was this feeling that I asked for it myself. I felt that I was the one putting myself in that situation.
But no! I should’ve been enraged. I should’ve done something to prevent that man from assaulting other women in the future while I can.
You see, I didn’t have a clear boundary with sexual predators because nobody ever educated me about it. I was more familiar with the concept of guilting the victim for feeding these predators into harrassing us that are in vulnerable position. A no is a no, and there is never a good excuse to violate that. We all need to be emphasized in the importance of consent— in which this concept isn’t even new anymore and has been spread to everyone within the online realm especially like a wildfire. Consent needs to be given consensually between people involved.
Consent. Consent. Consent.
If I’m obviously inebriated under the effects of alcohol or other substances, and don’t seem to be in the right mind to give consent to any physical act, please, never take advantage of it. Please don’t touch me unless I’ve given clear consent unless you need to carry me out to save me from passing out in the club. I also still have the right to decline sex with you even in the situation where we both are naked and you’ve put on condom.
Finally, I’m going to address this to parents of young children: please respect your kids’ boundary. Please affirm them the sense of ownership of their own body from a very young age. Please respect your kids if they were not comfortable to even shake someone’s hand instead of guilting them to being rude. Please never ask your kids to hug or kiss someone that they’re not familiar with. Please be mindful of unsuspected sexual abuse when you let your kids sit on someone’s lap.Please teach them boundary by teaching them to bathe by themselves when they reach an age where they can do it themselves. Please don’t undress your toddler in front of people. Please do it in a closed space instead to teach them boundary. Please don’t tell them to squat and pee on the street in a public space when they need to use the toilet just because they’re kids.
Please don’t let your kids be confused of what’s appropriate when it comes to your body. Encourage them that they make their own rules about their body from a very young age. Your children deserve to be fully aware of the ownership of their own body, and they don’t need others’ validation of what they choose to do with their body. Practicing self-respect from early on would teach them to assume the same from others, and to not invade other people’s body without their consent. I wish this concept would spread to young kids today to grow up in an era where the number of sexual crimes are pushed to a minimum.
Don’t let your kids experience what I’ve had to experience. Making your kid shake someone’s hand against their will seems innocent, but which one would you rather have: your friend judging you for notteaching manners to your kid, or having them confused about their own authority over their body and susceptible to sexual abuse later on?