Let’s talk about: exploiting the innocence of young girls (and the importance of consent)

As a 19 year old woman I guess you could say I’ve had my fair share of interesting encounters with various men. ‘Various’ being the key word here – by that, no I don’t mean ‘all’ men, I’m not complaining about the gender as a whole but there are some topics that I’ve just got to discuss. I’ve dated, slept with, been gawked at by, got touched up, been catcalled, been encouraged to get drunk (and therefore less in control of my actions), ‘fucked and chucked’ by a wide range of men (and some women, but we’ll get to that). Most of these experiences were from ages 16 to now, and as I get further and further away from the young, insecure, vulnerable girl I was then, the more pissed off I seem to get.

I never really thought much of my appearance as a ‘tween’ and throughout school – I was pretty geeky, I went through an emo phase, I wasn’t a size 6 or a makeup artist so the whole idea of being looked at and judged was a lot for me. Everyone knows puberty is tough and even though I didn’t realise it then I was properly under construction, and having to go through that process surrounded by judgemental teenagers is pretty shit. I felt as though I didn’t have a lot going for me and thought very little of myself – not many guys at my school seem interested so I looked elsewhere. And you know who can smell insecure teenage girls a mile off? OLDER BOYS.

Yep, that’s right. Being insecure and naive apparently makes a girl perfect prey for any lonely older boys (who, let’s face it, can’t get girls their own age)*. As someone who’s never been shown much attention by boys before, the bar is set suuuper low, a perfect opportunity for these lonely lads to swoop in and give this innocent gal a bit of attention in return for some sexy times. With no history of sexual experiences, no knowledge of consent and the fear of disappointing the boy showing an interest, who can blame a girl for being unaware of what was really happening.

Oh, what I would give to go back and protect younger me from the (toxic) life lessons I was about to learn. Fellas; feeding off a young girls insecurity just so you can get laid is super fucked up and I KNOW your mum didn’t raise you like that.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had similar experiences with girls. At 16 I had barely had much experience with guys let alone consider having these feelings and experiences with girls (oh honey just you wait) but the story doesn’t change. When being looked at as a sexual object is new to you it’s a bit intimidating and it’s easy to be made to feel uncomfortable. I would meet older girls for the first time and they would immediately comment on my looks and express interest – cheers for the compliment boo – but it left me with a sour taste in my mouth. I literally felt like a piece of meat and because this was all new to me, I just accepted this was how you were meant to feel. Is this what teenagers did? Because I wasn’t crazy about the lack of consideration for how I felt.

If you relate, I feel for you. Honestly, I do. If you don’t you may think I’m being dramatic and I’m sure I wouldn’t be if this wasn’t how girls seem to be raised and treated in the past, in the present and hopefully not in the future. Girls are brought up being told that their looks are everything, and their worth is based on how much attention they get. For some reason, possibly because of how they’ve been raised, these boys (and girls) think it’s ok to get what they want without a care for if that person feels comfortable or respected. Not cool, guys. This shit can be damaging and when someone is new to the world of sex and being intimate with others it can shape the way they think and the kind of behaviour they accept from people. I cannot stress the importance of consent and making sure the person you’re interested in doesn’t feel uncomfortable. Time to stop thinking with your genitals and start using your brains.

*Please note I’m only being super sassy to lighten the mood and probably as you can tell this topic gets me a bit riled up, sorry not sorry xoxo

I was inspired to touch upon this issue because of a poem I wrote a couple years ago – I had no exact topic in mind at the time but when I had finished it it seems to capture how these experiences made me feel. Now, I am more informed, more confident and more aware than ever of the importance of respect for one another. My body is my own and I don’t owe anyone shit just because they give me attention, and no one should be made to feel that way.

‘Haunted’ by Bella Kennedy (previously published on Brave Voices Magazine at https://bravevoicesmagazine.com/2018/12/30/a-poem-by-bella-kennedy/)

For support and advice on some sensitive topics discussed here are some sites I’d recommend:

And of course I’m always here to give advice or support or even if you just need to chat to someone, send me an email at bella@kcfamily.info

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