When I was a teenager we all hung around at a large park in our neighborhood. We’d meet there on summer evenings to find out what the plans for that night were, play softball or volleyball, drink beer, smoke cigarettes and weed, blast our music and just be together.
Lately I’ve been thinking about those long ago summer nights, and remembering the girl in the bushes.
Every once in awhile when we were hanging out on one of these nights, there would be a line of boys in front of the bushes by the tennis courts. We’d all laugh and say to each other ‘she’s in the bushes again.’
What that meant was that a certain girl from the neighborhood was crouched in the bushes on her knees and the guys were all in line waiting their turn with her.
As I write this all these years later I feel a sick turn in my stomach as I think about that poor girl and how easily we accepted what was happening.
How can it be that we were all so well trained in our shaming and thinking so little of ourselves that we didn’t realize the desperation taking place right in front of us?
If I could go back in time I would walk up to those bushes and take that girl by the hand and lead her away. I would tell those boys waiting in line that girls are not here for their fleeting pleasure and to stop acting in ways that demean themselves and everyone else.
I would sit that girl on a bench and put my arm around her. I would tell her I was sorry for whatever happened to her to make her feel so worthless. I would tell her she was loved and beautiful and worthy of wonderful things, so she would never again have to get on her knees just to hear another human being say those things to her.
Imagine if that’s how we’d been trained when we were young girls. Imagine if we were taught to stand together and be compassionate toward each other. What if instead of joining in with the boys who called her a slut behind her back, we were told to befriend her and bring her into our circle? What if we were taught that she was only doing this because she desperately needed to be accepted and loved, and it was our job as her sisters to give that to her? What if we were taught this was how we could really have an impact on the world, one sister at time?
Imagine a world like that…