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Big Bosom Woman Speaks Out!
by Mynda Peyton

I met my first sexist, Edward, in kindergarten. How I came to the conclusion that Edward was a sexist is a bit of a story. Picture if you will, a small elementary school playground. Kids are running everywhere in a whirl of motion and noise. With a good imagination, some of that noise will sound like 70's rock music. Now imagine a girl in sneakers and overalls running full speed toward the monkey bars with a belt twirling over her head. That was me.

In my school, all the kindergarteners loved a game called the kissing bandits (inspired by the rock band Kiss). The object of the game was to catch someone and give them a kiss. On that particular day, I remember running toward a group of boys, a whole heard of them, intent of giving one of them a kiss. The fact that I was swinging my belt around my head (like Wonder Woman), and screeching at the top of my lungs did not deter me for one moment. When I reached the bars, I heard a conversation going on that made me aware of being a girl. For the first time I became conscious of myself as existing solely in terms of gender. When I reached the bars Edward was pointing and jeering at me in front of a group of five-year-old boys. He very loudly, repeatedly, called me ugly and a tomboy. He made fun of my pants, how I moved, how I played, who I was. I experienced my first mind fuck. I was a girl, I knew that , but what did girl mean? I was crushed . . . at first. I remember hanging onto the monkey bars in a pathetic attempt to stay and still be near the boys. Then my temper kicked in, and before I ran away, I swung my belt at Edward's head. I missed.

My relationship with Edward did not end after kindergarten. I had a more intense run-in with him during middle school. In eighth grade I had English class with him, and one day, when our class was going to the computer room, Edward passed me a note. His note read, "I am going to feel you up today." I felt sick. I didn't want him touching me at all. On the way to the computer room I tried to distance myself from him, but he followed me like glue. I ended up sitting right next to him in the computer room. I don't remember what we learned that day because I spent the entire time keeping his hands away from my body. It never occurred to me to tell our teacher what was going on. I never told my friends. I sat there in utter humiliation, constantly removing his hands from me, waiting for class to end.

Up until the tenth grade, Edward kept harassing me. When I was alone he would come up behind me and make comments like "Where did you get those tits, can I please just touch one?" He seemed particularly fascinated with my breast size. I with I had given him a copy of The Smiths song "Some girls are bigger than others," but I didn't know The Smiths then. I did nothing. I said nothing. Silent indignation was my defense.

Looking back now, I realize my experiences with Edward were not nearly as horrifying as they felt. I could have easily fought him off, like in kindergarten. But in eighth grade I was uniquely unprepared to deal with him. I knew Edward pursued me based solely on how fast my body was maturing. But, I, too was ashamed of how quickly and fully my body was developing. I hated the fact that boys/men stared at my chest, never seeing a person. Although I was clearly beginning to look like the women in my family (clearly developing in a way characteristic of my genetics), I still felt extreme guilt and embarrassment.

In a Ms. Article on Shere Hite (Mar/Apr 1995, Vol. 5 #5), I discovered a definition that explains my immobility: girls' double identity. Hite explains in her book, Bringing Democracy Home, grils learn very early to connect their sexual identities with shame, not pride. Menstruation is not celebrated, and they cannot discuss sexual matters such as masturbation. Thus girls develop a double identity, one of a "good girl," and the other a private sexual identity (Hite 60).

I find truth in this definition. My identity as "a good girl," or even a school girl, was inadequate toward dealing with a developing sexual identity. Unfortunately, nothing in my life prepared me for one. People with my body type are sluts on T.V. The Fundamentalist Christian religion my family subscribes to deals with sexuality by stifling it or repressing it, until 'young men and women are ready to enter into marriage'. My Aunt attempted to communicate with me during adolescence but I refused to talk. I couldn't move past my imprinted shame. Not so much shame at my body (I watched myself change in awe and fear), but more so at the implications of what these changes meant. I was becoming a woman . . . or something. But what is "woman"?

In a way, I tried to repress my emerging sexual self. When I began to menstruate, I remember trying to hide this from my mom, confessing only when realizing that I needed money to buy pads. Until I got a job, I learned how to use and love toilet paper. When I first conceived of the idea of masturbation I was convinced that the devil put this idea into my head to tempt me into sin. I had no idea that other people masturbated (or that in some circles it's even considered . . . normal) I created a word for it until sex education in seventh grade. Every time I masturbated, I imagined my dead uncle looking down from heaven, his face twisted in horror or shame. Pretty wild stuff for a pre-teen. Yet, I didn't feel screwed up. I was relatively focused on school. I had outside interests, I was waging an internal battle against Christianity, and I was waging a war against my surroundings. For a pre-teen, I thought I had my stuff together, oblivious to my blind spot.

Question: How can women, especially developing girls, fight sexist attitudes with strength and confidence when as De Beauvoir writes "to lose confidence in one's body is to lose confidence in oneself?"

One can regain confidence in oneself. One way is by developing as a sexual individual. Individualism is loosely defined as a social theory advocating the liberty rights, or independent action of the individual. I imagine sexual individuals as women who operate between sexual identity and cultural archetype, acting in the arena of human sexuality. A sexual individual acts apart from artificial dualities assigned by a given society, roles like: Playboy bunny / trophy wife, virgin/ slut. She makes life choices based on past experiences and individual perceptions. She can be anybody, she can be anywhere. Her actions are based on how she wishes to appear before society, not how society wishes her to appear.

Human sexuality is wide and largely unexplored. When we grant our sexuality room to exist, we are affirming the positive and powerful in our lives. What can oppress, can also free. Eros happens.

"Imagine a woman with her legs apart masturbating furiously under floodlights in an empty stadium" (Mary Fallon)

"The erotic is a measure between the beginning of our sense of self, and the chaos of our strongest feelings" (Audre Lorde)