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Opinion: A few words on teen-to-teen sexual assault

The problem is that we can’t say that those boys were completely at fault for saying and doing the things they wanted to do because they weren’t taught differently. They didn’t know any better. Of course young people have already started talking about sex and sexual education, but the conversation is notoriously like the one l previously encountered.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/publishedpointsofview/" target="_self">The Holos Project </a>

The Holos Project

June 13, 2023

Editor’s note: This story is a part of the Holos Project, a four-way partnership (ENGin, L.A. Times High School Insider, Published Points of View, The Outspoken) established to empower the voices of Ukrainian students across the world through one-on-one journalism mentorship. This story was written by Ann Kotsi from Ukraine with the mentorship of Laila Mayfield from the United States. “Holos” is the Ukrainian word for “Voice.” 

Content warning: This story discusses topics regarding pornography and sexual assault. Reader discretion is advised.

“Which one do you think is sweeter? I bet it’s the one with those big boobs, although her lipstick is kind of gross,” one of my former friend’s acquaintances said with a laugh, indicating to some girl approximately 15 years old.

She had no idea that these guys were looking at her, she was just casually chatting with some of her girlfriends. It was a typical teenage party — loud music, sounds of laughter, drinking, and games of “truth or dare.” I doubt a single thought crossed her mind that someone might be discussing her body parts at that exact moment. 

“Oh yeah, she’s definitely the hottest one here. God, you know l saw this porn yesterday with a really similar chick. I wonder if they’d even feel the same,” they said.

Everybody laughed again. 

“No way, dude, can you send me the link?”

“Wow, no kidding. I’d like to take her like that from behind.”

“What about a threesome?”

“Now you’re talking.”

As they were discussing how to approach this girl and get her completely drunk, so it would be easier to talk her into having sex with them, l thought I’d die from disgust. I couldn’t believe they were actually thinking about behaving like that without even a basic knowledge of her personality, type, orientation or personal preferences.

They didn’t even know her name! The only thing they knew was that the girl shared similar features with some pornographic actress, and to them, that was all she was. Part of a simple act. An actress in a performance for young boys like themselves, who watch it and assume that it is how it’s truly supposed to be. 

When it got to the point that these teenagers were conspiring about having sex with some other girls that were obviously “desperate to get laid” due to the clothes they wore, while acting as if they were talking about the weather outside, l couldn’t stay silent anymore. I remember approaching them with enraged determination.

“Why are you so certain you are their type? They might not even find you attractive,” l said. 

“Well baby, we’re everybody’s type,” answered my former friend looking mockingly into my eyes. I clenched my teeth. I already knew that he wasn’t joking. In his mind he really believed it. 

“Do you know that what you were just describing is ‘rape’?” If these girls would be completely drunk without a clear mind on reality and you would use this situation to your own benefit… Do you understand that it could ruin their lives? Some of them might even get pregnant without knowing whose child it is. These girls, virgins, could experience great pain after the intoxication. Doesn’t it bother you?”

Apparently, my words sounded funny, because the boys started laughing like crazy.

“Chill, girl, we just want to have a bit of fun, don’t we, guys? Nobody’s even talking about rape,” they said. “Besides, it is unfair since it’s so much easier for a girl. You don’t even have to try, just show off your body and you can have anyone you desire. As for us… let’s just say, the world is much crueler for us in that specific area of matters.”

“Yeah, definitely true. Why can’t you just relax sometimes and stop caring about your types and all this nonsense? Sex is all about pleasure so there is nothing wrong with our wants and needs. You have to chill out more often.”

Does this situation sound familiar? Needless to say, many teenagers struggle with the same issue l did, but the most terrifying thing is — no one really talks about it. Young adolescents are constantly being abused, sometimes even unintentionally, by other teenagers, and quickly try to “cover the marks” left on their bodies and souls, because in their minds it is a terrible shame. But who puts this ridiculous idea into their heads? What makes them think they have even the slightest thing to be ashamed of? 

According to UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring report, sex education in primary education is compulsory in 68% of countries and in 76% of secondary education. And although these statistics are high, the numbers can be deceptive. A lot of these sexual education measures  do not give the comprehensive information many kids and teenagers require, instead teaching them only the very basics of contraception, which may be important, but does not provide a strong understanding  of the process itself. 

Now as we think about it, it is not just some new issue that’s been only addressed now. No, it’s been here with us for decades, centuries even. Our parents had the same kind of education, as well as their parents. The cycle has yet to be broken. We have been taught that sex is shameful and that polite people are not to freely talk about it (despite it being the most natural and true process of them all).

We have been humbled by our own society and kept imprisoned in that unrealistic world, that only makes us suffer such things as rape and abuse. This is especially true when it concerns teenagers. They are the ones who are only starting their life journey and want to explore it all, but without the right knowledge and some guidance, they can easily get hurt or accidentally hurt others. 

The problem is that we can’t say that those boys were completely at fault for saying and doing the things they wanted to do because they weren’t taught differently. They didn’t know any better. Of course young people have already started talking about sex and sexual education, but the conversation is notoriously like the one l previously encountered.

In a report by Common Sense Media, 73% of teen respondents reported they have watched pornography online. This may lead to unrealistic expectations and desires. Unfortunately, since it is one of the most common, normalized forms of sexual exposure in our society, we relax and close our eyes when faced with the consequences. We lie to ourselves, our kids, and our brains.

Teenagers often feel lost and insecure about the topic, they are ashamed, afraid and also a bit excited, with no one to turn to except their phones and stories their friends are sharing, no matter how unrealistic. This fact itself can already ruin someone’s life. 

Wouldn’t it be better if we just stopped lying and took the matter into our own hands? 

But what could we possibly do? You may wonder. Well, the most important thing would be to start talking about these topics out loud, and properly address them to our society. Make yourself and other people realize that sex is a natural process and we are a part of nature, which means there is nothing to be ashamed of. We, as united, like-minded people, can be unstoppable and make some really big changes, if we just put our minds and actions into it.

Secondly, l would strongly suggest schools, parents, and other educational organizations share some real-life experiences with kids and teenagers, without making them sound uncomfortable or forbidden. Make it normal for them to read books about it, watch videos, but not only with the pornographic context.

I believe it could be tremendously impactful for them to be aware of some scientific and psychological facts of the topic, because knowing it might increase confidence in teenagers, while protecting other teens from falling victim to their peers’ lack of knowledge. It is our mission, as the people who care about each other and want to make some real life changes, to open our eyes and act! 

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