Contra Mozilla

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Follow Up Post: On Sex Abuse, a Personal Story

In yesterday's post, I wrote a  bit about a passage from Gene Wolfe's Pirate Freedom, and noted that while I don't agree with everything that Mr Wolfe's character says or thinks, there are two important points to be made. The first is that we are raising boys to become men without chests (and ultimately, trousered apes), and that this does not help (rather, it exasperates) the sex abuse scandals. The second is that saying this is not blaming the victim. I want to write briefly about the first of these two things a little more, with some personal stories.

No, I was not ever molested by any priests. My parents were cautious enough to keep us away from any of the ones who might have tried (we simply don't know), and most of the rest are basically family friends who have never even so much as been suspected of it, let alone accused by any parishioners. However, I have experienced sexual harassment which borders on molestation. It was not from family or friends of the family or teachers or clergy, but it was from a soccer teammate.

It was my freshman year in high school, and I had been enjoying soccer since I was in the fourth grade, so I decided to go out for the varsity team (it was a small enough high school that there was some chance of my being on the team). I ended up on the JV team, though we had practice with the varsity and I was allowed to dress down with the varsity team during the games, and even (occasionally) to play in the games. One of the seniors on the team took it as his solemn responsibility to haze me: it seems like every freshman has to be hazed by somebody or several somebodies, whether sophomores, juniors, seniors, or some combination thereof. For me it was the senior who was one of the team's captains.

At first I thought nothing of it: it was usually a flyby slap on the butt, generally aimed in the area that is reserved for friendly "team encouragement slaps", so whatever. Later the slaps would move a bit lower and a bit inwards, which was annoying but I assumed at first was just sloppy aim. I think I probably mentioned something about it to him, but don't remember the exchange.

One day, a few months into the season, the slaps got replaced with a bit of quick groping, which I told him to stop in no uncertain terms. I also was a bit more on my guard, so it was rare enough. One day, my guard was down (we were in a scrimmage, and he was supposed to be at the other side of the field), for whatever reason. He had switched sides to guard me (I hadn't noticed), and as soon as the coach's back was turned did the groping thing did his little groping thing. I pushed his arm away and started to move, but he grabbed for me.

I reacted quickly, so quick that I didn't even have time to close my hand or choose a vital area, but the blow actually spun his head slightly (it was half-slap, half chop), and caused him to reel a couple of steps back. He wasn't laid out exactly, nor doubled over, so I was ready to die at that moment. I was foolish enough (from a fighter's perspective) to let him get his bearing, and had I attacked with a few good punches probably could have laid him out with the element of surprise on my side. For whatever reason, I just waited for a moment to let him recover from his surprise.

At that point, I basically hoped to land a few good punches for honor's sake, but to my surprise he kind of blinked and rubbed his face and jaw, looked at me, and then laughed and walked away. I had a few moments of fear (especially after that practice when I saw him talking to the upperclassmen on the team about it), but I never had issues with him again, nor was there as much hazing from the rest of the team (except, oddly, the freshmen and a few of the sophomores). I sometimes wonder what's become of him, since I never really saw him again after that year.

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