Teenage girls most often victims of unwanted sexual advances

Lily Tran, Feature Editor

It isn’t easy being a girl — especially a teenage girl. Teen females have to deal with developing bodies, menstruation and, unfortunately, sexual harassment.

“More than half of all female students from grades seven through 12 were sexually harassed at school,” a 2011 study by the American Association of University Women said.

It’s a sad reality: teen females are easy targets for sexual harassment. Finding a teen girl who hasn’t been catcalled or been the target of inappropriate comments is rare.

“I hear guys in the hall hollering and hooting at a girl, saying how much they want to tap that and grab that,” senior Hallie Briscoe said.

Not everyone agrees on the root causes of sexual harassment: some people place the blame on the victim, while others blame the harassers.

“It’s the way [girls] dress,” junior Huy Nguyen said. “Whatever they put on, like crop tops in winter, it’s for attention. It’s just a natural thing that males do.”

“I started dressing in more baggy clothing because if I wear tight clothes, I know people are going to look and say something,” Briscoe said.

Apparently, the problem isn’t that boys have a lack of self-control. The problem is obviously that girls dedicate their entire existence to tempting boys to sexually harass them with their wardrobe.

“Teen females are young and vulnerable and that makes them easy targets,” Briscoe said.

Harassers latch onto vulnerability and expect that the girl won’t fight back.

“Some guys feel like a girl can’t protect herself or tell them off,” senior AJ Fuentes said.

“It’s just easy for guys to make comments and most girls will just internalize [the harassment] and keep it to themselves,” senior Samantha Maynard said.

However, silence seems to prompt harassers to continue their actions.

“If the girl steps up and tells the guy how she feels and just matches their level of intensity and persistence, the guy will just go away,” Fuentes said.

Sexual harassment is a very real fear for many girls. It happens so often that people are blind to it. The problem is that males don’t actually understand that some of their actions actually constitute as sexual harassment.

In an informal poll conducted by “The Bruin Voice,” 36 out of 50 high school males could not correctly define what constitutes sexual harassment. Seventy-two percent of the 50 males surveyed did not understand the line between sexual assault and sexual harassment.

“Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature,” the Sexual Assault and Prevention Awareness Center said on their website.

The site also provides examples such as “unwanted sexual statements, which can include dirty jokes, comments on physical attributes, spreading rumors about or rating others as to sexual activity or performance, talking about one’s sexual activity in front of others and displaying or distributing sexually explicit drawings pictures and/or written material.”

Unwanted personal attention like pressure for sexual/romantic favors or dates, letter and telephone calls and unwanted physical or sexual advances like touching, fondling and touching oneself sexually for others to view are among the other examples.

“I know a lot of girls who have been sexually harassed,” Maynard said. “Most of them haven’t shared their stories because they’re embarrassed.”

“Girls stay quiet because other people will judge them about it,” junior Juliana Pena said.

“[Being harassed] lowers your confidence,” Briscoe said. “It made me feel dirty and it made me want to cover up head to toe because I didn’t want them to look at me.”

Some believe that sexual harassment has become so normalized to males that they don’t even realize that their actions or the actions of their peers constitute as sexual harassment.

“[Males] are so surrounded by sexual things,” Briscoe said. “They have their [porn] videos, aggressive lyrics in songs and so many things that just downgrade women. They think, ‘If it’s okay in here then why wouldn’t it be okay in real life?’”