Ah, is there a better way to bring together underage drinking, illegal drugs, and teenage angst. There’s nothing quite like a high school football game. At least in America.
If you live somewhere else, as many of you do, for clarity, I’m talking about American football, and our legal drinking age is currently 21.
So, the epitome of partying and the culture it surrounds, the peak of young-adulthood and fake school spirit, why bother talking about it?
Well, I don’t know if you’ve picked up on it, but I am a bit of an introvert. And social anxiety added to it makes these nights a bit daunting. But, as part of my ongoing push to be an “ordinary” teenager, I go to these events. Not all of them, just the ones that are somewhat interesting.
I do enjoy the time with my friends, watching and cheering on our dance team while the cheer team falls out of sync and forgets their choreography, shaking our heads in disappointment as our school loses the homecoming game for yet another year in a row.
However, high school football games draw large crowds. Crowds that are easy for people to disappear into. Crowds that are passing pens filled with mystery substances and crowds that start fights and impromptu rap-battles.
It’s a tad bit scary. There’s a lot of drama and a lot of time spent trying to find your group again because you turned around to say hi to someone and they were swept away by the mass of teens in your 3 second interaction.
It seems like I’m describing my literal nightmare but it’s not that bad. I don’t mind it all that much.
However, people capitalize on these events. And one boy in particular is known for it.
I don’t know him, I don’t even think he goes to our school, but he’s at every game, promoting his music. He’s the kind of guy that likes to think he’s a big deal and everyone just kind of plays along.
He likes underclassmen girls with pretty faces and skinny bodies to pose with for his instagram.
Tonight, he approached a friend and I. My friend knows him, and she was okay giving him a hug hello. I wasn’t really paying attention. My back was to him and I was still walking back towards our group. Then I felt an arm around me.
“I don’t dap girls up, I give them hugs” I heard him say. We kept walking.
The term “dap” refers to a handshake of a sorts and I’m not certain how common it is.
Point is, he hugged me, or awkwardly side-hugged me. But I don’t know him and the feeling of a stranger’s arm on my body was one I wasn’t prepared for. I tensed up a bit and the entire thing couldn’t have lasted more than 20 seconds total.
But I’m still trying to work through some things, some things that I’m still debating with myself on wether I should share them or not. If I did share them, I’d never break anonymity.
As much as Lyss might want to, and as much as she wants to share all of herself without censoring details, if I told those stories, I couldn’t give up my identity to the public.
So with a recent semi-diagnosis of ptsd looming over my head, I did my best to let things roll off my shoulders and continue with the evening. And things were fine, I even forgot about it, until I got home.
I got home and watched TV with my mom and brother. And I watched as the plot line of a woman with ptsd from an abusive relationship having a panic attack unfolded on the screen. And then it came back.
Just an arm. Just a friendly hug. Just a second. I tried to tell myself that because of these things it didn’t matter. That there was no reason to be upset.
But it does matter, because I didn’t agree to be hugged.
It matters because he didn’t know who I was and couldn’t see how I was reacting to his attempt to be friendly. It matters because he didn’t see any sign that I was aware of or okay with any physical contact and he proceeded anyway.
If you’re not up-to-date on the shit show that is American politics, we are currently in need of a Supreme Court justice. Problem is the one who was chosen sexually assaulted a woman by the name of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
And while the senate goes back and forth trying to make a very simple decision, this woman is empowering young people across America to speak out and tell their stories.
I will say this, I believe her.
She’s doing incredible things for this nation, things that shouldn’t fall on her as responsibilities but she takes them in stride, helping pave the way for everyone who’s voice deserves to be heard.
Politics aside, if I’ve been taught anything, consent is important. Always. No matter what you are or are not consenting to. Your say in the situation matters.
I am fortunate that my situation only went this far, because a lot of things can happen at high school football games. In the moment his arm was around me, I thought I might turn around and scream at him for it, “I didn’t say you could touch me.” If only.
If I leave you with anything today, let it be this:
1. Consent always matters
2. Consent to one thing is not consent to everything
3. You always have the right to revoke consent.
This was the compilation of many thoughts I’ve had tonight. Thank you for reading them.
See ya soon!!!