“It’s because he likes you!”
I wonder how many little girls have heard this after telling an adult that a boy did something that made them uncomfortable? He said something mean and untrue about her? He likes her. He called her names that hurt her feelings? He likes her. He pushed her on the playground and hurt her? He definitely likes her. Because boys will be boys and that’s just what boys do; you should be flattered he’s paying attention to you!
Those little girls and boys become teenagers. Teenage girls pine after boys who ignore them, say mean things to them, or take advantage of them. Sometimes those girls compromise themselves so a boy will notice them. They try to act a certain way, dress a certain way, or sometimes become sexually active before they are ready in hopes that the boy who has treated them so poorly will eventually become the affectionate prince charming Disney told them they would find.
Those teenage girls become adults. One in four of them will experience domestic abuse, and a majority of them will never file reports. Most won’t even realize they are in an abusive relationship, because emotional abuse doesn’t leave the same physical scars.
When we tell our little girls that being treated poorly by boys is a sign of affection, we are inadvertently showing them that behavior is normal and expected in relationships. I won’t be so bold as to say that playground teasing is what causes abusive relationships, but I will say I believe it is a contributing factor to why answering the question “Why don’t you just leave if he is abusive?” is like walking a tightrope over a psychological minefield.
In a culture where there is still a heavy implication that a woman’s worth is only valid if she is loved by a man, leaving an abusive relationship can sometimes mean feeling like you’ve lost your value as a woman.
When boys are faced with girls that deny their advances or mistreat them they are taught from an early age that she is mean, or unhappy with herself, or just a bitch. It is a problem with her, not with their behavior towards her.
Why aren’t we teaching our girls the same thing? Why are we not telling them if a boy likes them he will play games with her on the playground, talk to her about things that interest the both of them, hug her, or hold her hand?
Camicia Bennett: Founder of The Well Written Woman, Florida Native and cerebral creature, she loves her husband, yoga, red wine, potty humor, swearing superfluously and putting hats on her dog. If given her druthers she’d be surfing the web and writing randomness from someplace sunny and tropical whilst sipping her favorite vino. Oh wait, that’s exactly what she does.You can find her randomly sharing her own brand of slightly pretentious propaganda at her personal blog.