When I was in 11th grade, I took a public speaking elective with Chuck Williams. I was shy and soft spoken, and signed up for the class to get better at using my voice. In class, which took place in the Technology Lab, Williams asked his students to read and act out lines from a play. I don’t remember the name of the play. He asked another female student in the class and me to read lines from the play that he chose, which included a fake orgasm. He asked me to repeat the lines in front of the entire class and other students in the Technology Lab over and over and over again, each time with more enthusiasm. I was clearly uncomfortable, and giggled while reading the lines. I refused to vocalize noises of an orgasm in a realistic way, but Williams said I could not sit down until I read the lines with more enthusiasm or believability. I can’t remember the exact words he used. I’m not sure how many times he asked me to perform the lines before he allowed me to sit down, but it felt like I was in front of the class and other students from different classes, performing a fake orgasm, for a very long time. I remember feeling embarrassed, and I laughed with friends about the incident that afternoon to brush off my feelings of humiliation. Outside of that class, when I was sitting at school computers in the Technology Lab, Chuck Williams often stood behind me and wrapped his arms around my back to reach the keyboard in front of me. I remember feeling uncomfortable, but not in danger. I did not report these incidents because I felt vindicated in my escapes from Chuck Williams: I smiled, held my ground, and stayed out of his way. Giggling my way out of uncomfortable situations to avoid physical assault is something I’ve done many times since these interactions. It saddens me that these moments at Springs set the precedent for how I’ve protected myself from men in power throughout my life. It should not be up to students to set boundaries with teachers.
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