It won’t come as a surprise to readers of these pages that I read a lot of student newspapers. A lot. And it probably also isn’t a big surprise that a lot of what I’ve been reading is about sex. The #MeToo movement has been a watershed moment for relations between the sexes in America and around the world.
Sequoit Media at Antioch Community High School in Chicago’s northern suburbs tells an anonymous story of a freshman girl who says she was used for sex and that it devastated her. She thought about hanging herself from a ceiling fan, but that didn’t work. Thank God.
Instead she turned to smoking weed and dancing. “When I moved my body, I was taken away from the screaming of my father, the lies of the guys I had sex with, and the aching for love and human interaction,” she is quoted as saying. “I put all of my emotion into dancing, and for that reason I will never stop loving that outlet.”
Like so many young girls, it starts with a text from a boy and progresses to a few nights in his basement and in his car. Next thing you know, the two kids call themselves “sex buddies” instead of boyfriend and girlfriend. (She was hoping all of that would lead to him asking her out, but as with so many boys who use girls for sex, that never materialized.)
Not all stories in student newspapers about this are anonymous, though that is by far the preferable way to report this sort of thing.
“I’ve had people close to me describe situations about sexual harassment that they have been involved in, and it’s really horrible,” a student at Grady High School in Atlanta was quoted as saying in Nexus, that school’s student news site. “It’s something I don’t take lightly, and I wanted to wear black in order show as much support for people who have gone through that as I could.”
So, that reporting qualifies as actual hearsay, but two years ago, several people might not have even believed first-person accounts of sexual harassment, abuse, and crimes.
And that’s what I mean by a “watershed moment.” Not only are we putting a lot more information about what boys and girls want from relationships out there since we aren’t taking charges lightly anymore, but we are also making great strides toward wiping out sexual improprieties on the part of boys.
My own take might have been something like President Trump’s take on the whole #MeToo movement (please ignore the missing apostrophe on the first word):
Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused – life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 10, 2018
But that was two years ago. Today I’m more inclined to believe these things happened to the girl in Illinois and to the ones in Atlanta. I admit we’re destroying careers that shouldn’t be destroyed in the inertia of this movement, but how many women still carry the burden of being used for sex during high school into their 30s and beyond?
That doesn’t justify making false accusations against boys or men, but this collateral damage is bound to happen since #MeToo involves half our population and people’s memories of situations are colored with the lenses of their own experience and faded out by time.
Voxitatis is reporting this story not only because sexual assault has become a very common thread in the stories in high school newspapers over the past few months, but also because the story out of Illinois appears to be about a real 14-year-old girl who has contemplated suicide. That requires attention from health care professionals, regardless of the underlying actions on the part of adolescent boys that may have led her to those thoughts. Those actions may also merit investigation by school officials or possibly law enforcement, as 14 is younger than the age of consent in all states, though some make the age difference between the boy and girl a legitimate defense in court.