Updated: Aug 19, 2018
At an age so unripe, there’s absolutely nothing else that a little girl could do - and
no one should ever blame the victim or her parents for it to happen.
BY ELIZABETH RAISA TEE
Well, I supposed 9 years-old isn’t too young or too old to have experienced a ‘#MeToo’ assault.
I was fully conscious, present and alert when it happened.
A firm touch would’ve been better.
But I can clearly remember how the lingering fingers across my shoulders; back-searching for the seams of my undergarment; soft-spoken encouragements and teachings and standing with close proximity was more deathly than of the former; what could you actually do when such things happened if you’re at this age?
I attended an afterschool drawing arts class at a renowned national children’s magazine
title published by the biggest publisher that just celebrated its 45th birthday, that made education centres across the cities by using its registered magazine title name. Its name would’ve been marred if it went to press, but then again it was the best place for predators to work in while still have the respect as a teacher.
The question still remains, then again, to who would believe this little girl whistle-blowing “I felt that Mr. X was assaulting me!” He was teaching me a colouring technique whilst saying encouraging words but his fingers said something else of what he implied on speech.
The context was that only I, the victim, and he, the predator, my teacher, understood the
subliminal intention of his touches. It would’ve looked completely harmless if it was
surveyed on a CCTV.
So the answer will be no. No one will believe me or my mum at the time. I didn’t have
proof except for my gut feelings.
The takeaway of my 9-year-old experience is that I still continued to attend the classes
as I did enjoy the content. Who knew that as the stereotypical traits of how Chinese as I
can get is that because I’ve paid my class fees, I didn’t want to waste tuition fees (Yes, we’ve been taught to be aware of money management since young) became a main factor for me to fight it through?
Humour aside, it was me telling to myself that I won’t drop the class because I felt like I
couldn’t deal with these issues to obtain the knowledge I wanted. I just became smarter
enough to minimize further causalities by moving my seat farther in where he couldn’t
reach me. I still love art. Today, I currently work as a designer by one trade. The skills
learnt have been applicable.
What made the difference was that, after that day, my level of respect towards
heterosexual males has dropped.
When I was 11, I reverently wanted to sign up to the newly opened Taekwondo class at
the local sports centre. I immediately loved it. I felt that I belonged there all my life
wearing this white uniform called the gi, even though I was the only girl, naturally along
with about 6-7 other boys.
My peers were boys and some are brothers, ranging from six to thirteen. Age 10 and the
smaller ones were little rascals. I still didn’t care – I still love it and I don’t mind kicking
them back – isn’t that what the classes are for?
Obviously, at our budding spring awakening age, young boys are just curious what
breasts are. It was once that I left myself unguarded; it was both by two boys, with the
help of their little brothers monkey-hugging my legs down while their two big brothers
lunge their pre-emptive attack at me, and succeeded.
The little brothers didn’t know what was happening but they would always listen to
their big brother’s instructions (nothing great like an exemplary example of a big
brother, clap clap).
The teacher saw what had happened and pulled all the boys out. Alas, what could he do
besides reprimanding them? Should I tell their mothers? What proof do I have that their
sons grabbed my then in a mini-set budding bosoms because they were just there?
I still received more, but minor annoying assaults but nothing as formative as that
Yes, I still went to the taekwondo class, week after week towards the exam of my first
belt. I loved it and I wouldn’t quit a class because of a matter that it might have made me
Remember readers, I’m as Chinese as I can get, I paid my class’ worth and
I’m not quitting because of this incident. All of this aside, I’ve realised that ruthlessness
to get my value’s worth in life became something for me to keep going and nothing
stops me from obtaining it.
I remembered thinking simply, “Why should I quit what I like doing just because I didn’t get to deal with the environment the way I wanted? Does anyone get their way? I’d lose out on the entire life game if I quit the class, right?”
Little did I know how this battalion mentality would par the foundations of my
adaptability to any situations thrown at me could be hurdled out – obstacles are
Life goes on - I passed the examination, got my belt and felt accomplished.
Unfortunately, perhaps for my parents and to myself, my respect for heterosexual males
has diminished completely since they ogled after two lumps of fat.
I was forced to quit the class by my mum because my grades were dropping after the
exam. That was the end of it until one day, a year or two later, at a public space, I was
able to identify the two of them. They didn’t remember me; it was I who remembered
them. I remembered their faces; my heart stopped a little.
My mind whizzed upon identifying them. “How was I able to still remember them and feel
this resentment?” I said to myself. My mum was shopping to her needs, unaware. I know
by then, I have been affected.
The boys were then with their mothers. I questioned their ability of parenting at that time there and although I can’t recall much what my first emotions were upon identifying them, I believed I wanted to punch their teeth in front of their mothers so they would ask me why I punched their dear sons and tell them my story which the boys will deny anyway. And scribble their name in the Death Note notebook as I've always wished.
In summary, there’s nothing a victim could do for there wasn’t any proof that could be shown to the table.
Shortly after, I felt disgusted with myself. How I didn’t manage to protect myself,
ironically at a self-defence class, and be touched by these junior jerks.
I never knew that I’ve self-loathed. This has been buried for so long – feeling disgusted
when I think of myself and all heterosexual males who comes in as a predator, a potential mate, anywhere, and I have never wanted to try and appeal to the opposite sex. This writing has helped me discovered the plug that has closed my sink and I can gladly say I’ve been able to pull the plug out thanks to an unprecedented outcome of a social experiment.
I hope you readers are able to find your plugs and are strong enough to unplug it. Do it
About the Author
Elizabeth Raisa Tee is the founder of Perempuan Tagar Tegar (P#T) , a non-profit movement and online hotline for all your female toxic issues and also currently serves as assistant producer of It’s A Girl Thing Live, the first international girl empowerment conference in Jakarta after Singapore and Manila, among the many other things she’s done and still runs in several cities and countries. She is aged 25 at the time of writing.