It happened in drama class, we were preparing to rehearse a scene where my teacher (whom we will call Paul) and I had to ambush the rest of the group; we were both hiding waiting for the key moment to jump on my classmates with a pair of plastic knives in hand.
I decided to ask Paul, “When should we get started?” and he took the bold decision to delicately lower the script I was holding in my hand and answer me; “We start whenever you want, however you want and wherever you want” all of this while giving me a look that I felt to my bones, and that to this day I can not forget.
Paul was in his 50s, he was married with two children my age, I was a sophomore in high school.
I vividly remember the different reactions of my friends when I told them what had happened, most of them were happy because Paul was one of those teachers that were called a “sexy teacher” and I had been chosen, only a small percentage of people stopped to wonder if I felt comfortable with that.
“I guess so, after all, I have been flirting with him for the past few months.”
But … was I?
At the time I didn’t even bother answering that question, I just took it for granted that it had been that way, and that I felt so lucky to be seen by a man whom most loved. Suddenly I felt compelled to look pretty all the time, to be sexy, and most importantly, I needed to appear experienced, everyone should see my confidence and my unscrupulousness. All this to achieve a feeling of empowerment, one that never really existed, I simply managed to generate a dependency on the male opinion, and my insecurities grew.
Paul never went further, but it was too late for me. I had decided that I needed to be seen that way by all the men around me because I believed that it was going to give me power and that magically the opinion of others was going to make my fears disappear.
I continued with this attitude until I couldn’t maintain the image that had been created for me, since my true desires got in the way. I realized the true consequences of my decisions, any guy that I started dating immediately took sexual attitudes towards me and I began to realize that I did not feel any kind of power, if not just humiliation, since I wanted to be heard and known, but I had not given the space for it.
After realizing that that was not the attention I needed, I tried to stop. I started to take things very slowly, but sometimes it’s easier to say things than to do them, so I still had experiences where it does not matter how much I wanted to act like myself, I kept getting the same kind of treatment in which some random guy would have the balls to ask me on the first date if I would like to watch Hentai with him. It was invasive and degrading.
It was obvious that I was not ready to experience my sexuality with other people, since from the beginning I snatched it from my hands to make it available to the general public, or more specifically to the men who wanted to fuck me.
It took me a long time to recognize that I did not have to be sexy if I didn’t want to, that my value as a person and as a woman went beyond the number of men I slept with or what was under my clothes, and perhaps the hardest thing was to stop blaming myself for absolutely everything. Then I began to realize that I was not alone, that apparently what happened to me was a problem that went beyond my experience, it was a collection of stories.
It is really sad that what I learned I had to do by myself, that men like Paul dedicate themselves to conquer their students instead of giving them a real education. For a long period of my life, I thought it was good that the world functioned that way, and support those behaviours as something natural.
I wish this little anecdote with my teacher would have been my only reason to behave the way I did, but I am sure that not only me but millions of women can share multiple experiences where they have taken away a fundamental piece of us, only because the world we live in feels that it has the right to do so.
But despite everything I have hope, every day we are struggling to snatch the infinity of bandages that have been put on our eyes, everything so that one day we will be able to live our femininity fully; we are not perfect and that‘s why I know it will not be easy, I still have a lot of garbage to remove, but at least I am sure that the next time someone asks me: “And do you feel comfortable with that?” I will be honest and answer “Hell no”.