A story emerged over the weekend of a 13-year-old male student who kissed a 14-year-old female student against her will “on a dare.” He’s now facing assault charges. Guess what? Forcing yourself on someone is assault.
The belief that women aren’t entitled to body autonomy is so deeply engrained in our culture that we actually can hear a story about a teenager being “forced” to kiss someone and completely forget that she’s even a part of the narrative. No one is up in arms about this girl, or how she feels about having her space violated. No one cares that she’s now hearing the backlash from a country who apparently doesn’t think that she has the right to exist peacefully without someone forcing himself on her. Do you think I’m being dramatic? Let’s take a look at the media spin for a minute.
Does this image the Drudge Report used in their story about the incident look like a pair of teenagers?
How about the Counter Current News‘ choice of this image of a seemingly smitten tween?
Here’s what the Drudge Report has to say about what happened:
“By all means, give this kid detention. Make him apologize to the girl. Tell his parents to teach him better manners. But don’t charge him with assault. That would be a far greater crime than a stolen kiss.”
What do “manners” have to do with this, and what exactly is a “stolen kiss?” So, is it a “stolen caress” when some jerk gropes a woman on the subway? No. It’s assault. Touching another human without permission is assault — whether you believe it is or not. News report after news report referred to the incident as “just a kiss.” A kiss is consensual. Not forced. This is not a kiss. It’s assault. And these are not children – they’re teenagers.
To the thousands of internet commenters who seem to think this is just “political correctness” gone awry: what would you say to your daughter if she came home and told you someone forced himself on her at school that day? “Oh, don’t worry honey. No big deal.”
We need to be teaching young men to understand that it is absolutely not okay to force themselves physically on young women. What kind of message are we sending young girls with our collective reaction to this incident? You don’t matter enough to defend – or even mention. There are no details about the story beyond that charges were filed. We have no idea why the authorities were involved. Clearly, administrators at the school found the situation disturbing enough to actually call in law enforcement. Is anyone even thinking about that for a minute? No, because we’re too busy being worried about how a misdemeanor assault charge may affect this fine young man’s future.
I don’t have a single female friend who doesn’t have a story about being violated as a teenager. From having their bra straps snapped so hard that they had welts on their shoulders to being held under water at the local swimming pool because they refused to kiss a boy. But these are all things that young women need to endure because “boys will be boys” right? We need to just shrug off the complete disregard of our autonomy and space.
Bullshit. Teach your children that forcibly touching someone is assault, the same way you teach them that taking something that isn’t theirs is stealing and that destroying someone else’s property is vandalism. This wouldn’t even be a trending story if the boy had stolen or vandalized something. People would be saying, “Yes. He broke the law.”
This doesn’t cease to be a crime because you don’t think a young woman’s space is worth anything. It is. There are laws that protect her. Teach your children not to break them.