Don’t Be Kind To Everyone
By Sandra Arias
A young woman answered, “My parents always told me to be kind to everyone. I won’t teach my children that. It’s not always good to be kind to everyone.”
She was so young, but she knew this. Why did it take me so long to learn?
That’s from Debra Anna Davis’ piece, “Betrayed by the Angel.”
It takes me back to a time when I too was young, shy, and intimidated by boys. I didn’t know why I was a target. I was polite, spoke when spoken to, and never caused a scene. I thought being a good girl would keep problems at bay. But it made me weak.
I am a different person today.
If only I had known then what I know now.
Just weeks before my last year of middle school I got the most depressing news a thirteen year old could hear, “You are moving to a new school.” How on earth would I make friends? Should I dress cooler? Will boys find me attractive? I cried and pled, but that was that.
The new school year finally arrived and I couldn’t have been more awkward. A month later I met my bully, Brandon.
Brandon was the most popular guy at school. Girls drooled over him, guys admired him, faculty and staff were charmed by him.
But one morning in math class he grabbed my butt. My eyes went wide and I froze. I quietly sat down and wished for him to vanish. That was just the start.
Others saw how uncomfortable I was, but no one stood up to the popular guy. The boys didn’t want to look less manly by protecting the new girl. And the girls didn’t want to lose Brandon’s attention.
When he grabbed me I wanted to yell, curse, transform into a muscular, twenty foot women and throw him across the room. But I thought that girls shouldn’t be rude.
I categorized how girls and boys should behave. Brandon was a typical boy, acting out typical boy desires, so I was less harsh than if I had seen things differently.
In a shy voice I asked if he would stop. When he didn’t stop I felt ignored and defeated.
It was years later before I knew that it was more important to protect myself than worry about causing a scene.
Growing up with a strong mother and three older sisters, I blamed myself for not being tough enough to handle this on my own. So I confided in a teacher, but in a sugar-coated way, without explaining the extent of the harassment: “He poked me here and there and said mean things about me.” She wanted to bring his parents in for a talk. I panicked and said that wasn’t necessary. So she just gave Brandon a lecture.
Being the new girl I was scared to draw negative attention, especially since my bully was popular.
I worried students would hate me and think I exaggerated. But if I did nothing girls would call me, “easy” or “slut.” The classic double bind with no good choice.
Months passed and then — to no one’s surprise — Brandon was put under house arrest and left our school.
I had one of my best days ever!
The next year an amazing teacher preached women’s rights and introduced me to “feminism.” I’m still reserved at times, but now I let my voice be heard when I feel uncomfortable or discriminated against in any way. I’m thankful for the knowledge I have now. And it’s exciting that my learning doesn’t end here.
This was written by one of my students, Who gave permission to post it.