The Second Boy I Beat Up

Boys will be boys. Girls will have to be women.

At age 8, I turned this purse into a weapon against boys

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On first grade, my parents put me in a Catholic girls school. It was considered the best elementary school in town, and despite it being private and my dad not having the means to afford, he still enrolled me. He knew he could make the nuns accept me with only the promise of a future payment. He was good in coning people — well, it was his job. My dad managed to keep me in that school for two years. I’m sure he used Jesus in his approach with the nuns. But you know Jesus and nuns, they go well together for two years maximum. On third grade I had to leave, and I went to a laic, all gender school.

At the Catholic girls school there weren’t fights or boys picking on me, like that boy in kindergarten. But there were the millionaire blond sisters. The nuns treated them differently, they would talk to them and to their moms personally. Only our teachers would talk to us, the upper echelons of nuns didn’t talk to the students. At the end of the school day two or three nuns would escort the blond sisters to their smoking hot blond mom’s red convertible. Everyday. They wouldn’t escort me and my mom to the bus stop. The millionaire blonds were special. I wanted to be like them, I wanted to be important like they were. I wasn’t. At six, I became jealous.
Jealousy carved a little hole inside me that through the years would be dug larger and larger by the hand of pride. The more it hurt, the more I turned haughty to defend myself. I wanted to show everyone that I was more than I was, because I felt I was too small. I had to hide and pride was a strong wall I could live behind and go through my childhood and teenage years. From behind the wall I could only see shadows of the real world, and the shadows showed me that in the world there were the special ones and there was me. It had been easy to deal with the bully the year before. Boys you can just punch and off you go. If I punched the blond sisters, I would still be me. And they would still be them.
Catholic School “Jesus’ Heart” in Cuiabá, Brazil

The school I went to on third grade was a private school as well. This time my dad payed for the first month. I don’t know where he got the money, maybe he had sold undocumented land in the rainforest to some greedy timber merchant who would deforest it until some non profit organization would catch him. How did my dad get to sell undocumented land in the rainforest? He was good in coning people. It was his job. My dad payed for the first month only and he knew I would finish the school year, because there was a law in Brazil that said that a school can’t let a kid go without finishing the school year due to lack of payment. This law was widely explored by my parents and is the reason why I had a good education. Those who were in need once can appreciate the importance of a liberal in lawmaking.

In the new school boys and girls would share the classroom and all the spaces, and soon did I realize there was a “boys vs girls” mentality that I wasn’t used to. In kindergarten there wasn’t “boys vs girls”, there was that one boy who picked on me for a while, the one who couldn’t handle a broom into his face without crying. Such a baby. The physical expression of this “boys vs girls” mentality was: the boys will pass a group of girls, touch the girls’ butts and run. They would laugh at the girls, triumphant, as if the girls couldn’t do anything but bear the abuse. And the girls did nothing but yell “Get out of here!” or “Stop!” It seemed to me that they were agreeing with the boys, that they couldn’t do anything but bear the abuse. They believed boys will be boys.

One day, they did it to me. They were a group of five boys, they came and touched my butt and another girl’s butt. They ran laughing, as if mocking our supposedly physical disadvantage, mocking the fact that we wouldn’t do anything. They were showing me that I was right thinking I was unimportant, that I was less. They were showing me I was impotent. They hadn’t touched only my butt, they also touched the place I had to defend at all costs to stay alive: my pride. They didn’t know, but they had called me to war. I had to figure out how to fight five boys at a time and until then I wouldn’t leave the classroom on breaks. The girls would ask me to go to the playground and I would say I didn’t want the boys to touch my butt. “Let it be”, they would say. They had never been in a war. There’s no “let it be” in a war.

Being isolated in the classroom during playground time everyday was sad and unfair, it was making me angrier and angrier. I wanted to go back to the playground, I had to find courage to fight five boys back. I had a hippie cousin who had a hippie wife who was making little tissue purses to sell. She came to my parents’ house and showed my mom the purses. My mom wasn’t interested, she didn’t want to look like a 60’s pothead. But that little purse inspired me, so I begged my mom to buy one. She had no money, as per usual, but my cousin’s wife had that big hippie heart and gave one to me. It was a little crossbody purse, dyed green, the handle was a cord. I looked like a child conceived in Woodstock, but it was perfect. I put in there very important things: a mini care bear, my favourite princess pencil and a rock.

With my weaponed purse, I was confident to go back to the playground during break. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to fight five boys at once, but with my purse I knew I could hurt at least two. Sounded good to me, even if they beat me up at the end, hurting a couple of them would be more than I could ask for. In the very first day I went back to the playground, it happened: a group of boys came around and my butt was touched by a portly German descendent boy. I ran after him yelling “I’m gonna get you!” He ran laughing, because my anger was funny to him. I thought the others would come to help him, but no. I didn’t have to fight a group of boys as I was thinking — life sometimes is easier than we imagine. I went for it, I knew I could deal with one boy, I kept chasing him, he kept running until we crossed the playground limits to the wasteland beside the school. I got him there. I took my rock armed purse out and hit him a dozen times, all over his body. Surprised, confused by how that little purse could hurt so much, he yelled “Ai, ai, ai!” and protected his face with his burly hands. I said “You’ll never do that to me again, do we agree on that?” Still surprised, confused, ashamed of being beaten by the smallest girl in class, he replied: “Yes, yes”. I hit him three more times. We had to come back from the wasteland together, and we did so in silence. He had his head down, I had my chin up — I had to, when you beat the shit out of someone you have to keep your status to the end.

At the playground his pals were giggling, curious to know what had happened. At that moment, I realized that I could beat the boys without having to fight all of them. I could use one as an example, as a scapegoat, like my parents did sometimes with my brothers and I — beat up only one of us by something we all did, so that the other ones would learn the lesson too. I said:

OK, boys, gather here. I just beat the shit out of your friend here because he touched my butt. There’s no touching my butt. Every single one of you who touches my butt will be hit by my purse. Thank you.

And I left. When leaving, I heard the scapegoat saying to the others: “She’s crazy”. None of them ever touched my butt again. Because I was crazy. Well, I was also free.

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