Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

I didn’t say “fuck off” enough as a teenager in high school. I didn’t say “fuck off” enough as a young adult in college. I didn’t say “fuck off” as a young woman entering the workforce. I definitely say it more now, thank goodness, but do I still say it enough? Don’t worry, I’m working on improving myself every day, so I’ll get there. I plan to practice a lot, and I’m not excluding my daughter.

The “Me Too” and “Times Up” movements are empowering women everywhere to speak out about the injustices that women experience every day. It’s given me time to think about the circumstances of harassment and assault that I experienced, as young as 8 years old. I never spoke against any of it. I assumed it was normal, and that I was supposed to giggle and laugh. It was all harmless, right? Just boys being boys or flirting with me because they thought I was pretty.

It wasn’t harmless.

In third grade, a boy in my class kept telling all my classmates that he wanted to have sex with me. He would draw pictures of me that my entire class would whisper about, only to find out it’s how he imagined me naked. He would call my house with fake numbers, before caller ID was as smart as it is. I was being harassed at school and at home, and my parents reacted appropriately. There were talks in the principal’s office and among parents, but I don’t remember him getting in trouble. I remember it all being hushed. I remember speaking to a school counselor about things I really didn’t understand, and we remained in the same class.

High school was worse.

I was a late bloomer and remember being picked on for not having boobs. I was applauded for having a nice butt though, so it wasn’t all bad, right? As I finally did develop a figure, I was treated to ass grabs in the school hallway and nicknames all about my “gift.” I would just laugh it off, because what was I supposed to say? I wish I would have said “fuck off” to those comments. I wish I would have said “fuck off” to the guys who bought me lingerie and actually expected me to wear it. What had started as an inappropriate joke that I uncomfortably smiled at turned into an expectation. All of a sudden I was a bitch and a tease. If I had said “fuck off” at the beginning, it would have saved everyone some time.

It never ended.

In the workplace, even as a minor, I was harassed. In college I experienced even more humility enduring comments that were supposed to be compliments. I had been groomed from childhood to expect this behavior from others, and as a mother, it’s the most sickening feeling. So, I will be teaching my daughter to say “fuck off.” At school, at home, at work. At five years old if she needs to. And I will make no apologies to a teacher or other parent if the comment is rightly deserved.

Hallie should not have to apologize for saying “fuck off” if she is being harassed or assaulted. Hallie has every right to defend herself, and she doesn’t have to be polite about it. If Hallie does have to say “me too” I want it screamed from the top of her lungs the moment it occurs. Not twenty years later when she finally feels safe.

Hallie will not be fooled into the same belief that she is nothing but a toy for the amusement of others. She is strong. She is brave. She is smart. She is beautiful, exactly as she is. She is deserving of respect. Hallie will be taught all these things, including when to say “fuck off” to anyone that dares to say otherwise.