God I hate the term MILF.

The other day I stepped outside for a run while my parents took care of Eryn. I was in my old stomping grounds, running a familiar route that my muscles just eased into. And I was enjoying every second!

The sky was cloudless and a gorgeous blue — the trees a fantastic green. Someone had just cut the lawn, and the smell of grass was amazing. You know the smell.

Then, like an 80s teen romance, a goofy looking teen came up behind me on his bike and grabbed my ass.

It took 32 years and one fell swoop of his hand, for me to be groped in public by a stranger.

It wasn’t just a smack on the ass. No. It was a full five-finger grasp and squeeze.

My sharply drawn breath gave me a second to come up with a string of expletives and when he looked back at me from his bike, slowing down, almost hoping that I’d run after him… I threw the “c” word at him for good measure.

Then I realized what had happened and nearly burst out laughing. He was a baby. He looked to be around 14 years of age and possibly acting out on a dare. This was not some guy out to take advantage of my butt. It may have even been the thrill of his adolescent life (almost feel bad for him if that’s the case). Who knows why he chose my cellulite as a target. Still, what the hell? And what gave him the right to do it?

Later, when talking with a male friend… He asked if I was ok. I said, “sure, the boy was just 14, geeky and looked like a loner. I laughed right after I swore… Because I didn’t think it was a fight worth fighting. Where he got the gall to do this, is another issue.”

Then came, “maybe you should wear a longer t-shirt, or a sweater around your waist.”

I considered it for a split second and then realized: oh hell no. I already cover my hair and wear a 3/4 length sleeve or jacket. OK maybe my pants from Lululemon are a little form fitting, but I’m a runner! I ran when pregnant with Eryn until we were 38 weeks! The pants just hide the cellulite so darn well. And the last time I went running in ridiculously baggy pants and a formless black jacket I nearly fainted from the layers and felt like more people were staring at me than usual. I don’t think it was a hit-and-run attack on a muslim, because when I’m out running, I wrap my hair and wear a baseball cap on top. I don’t necessarily look anything more than a person out for a run.

But the problem doesn’t lie with what I’m wearing. The problem is that we teach our boys that this behaviour is acceptable. In movies, videos, music, in and across cultures. And then put the responsibility on our girls to cover. The lack of respect for women remains, and no one educates the boys.

I could be wearing a burka and still be groped. It happened once to a very good friend of mine as she walked through the market of a small Pakistani village. It shouldn’t fall on my shoulders to “protect myself” or to help men keep their desires in check. They have to learn how to do that themselves.

Perhaps I should have followed the boy home and gave his parents a good talking to. But where does the responsibility lie? Have I screwed things up for others because I didn’t say anything constructive to the boy and get him to start thinking critically about his actions? He’s 14 today – grabbing butts in the park. What will he be like at 24?

I’m trying to bring up Eryn to value all cultures, differences and to understand non-exclusive gendering… meaning she wears a lot of clothes “meant for boys” and still at 9 months, doesn’t own a dolly, but a car and a choo-choo train. I want her to one day understand that these clothes and items aren’t just for one gender or another. Girls can wear blue and play with cars – boys can wear cap sleeves and own dolls. She’ll have her girlie phase, no doubt (with pink princess tea parties I’m sure) and I’ll be there to help talk her through it -to see that life isn’t all about clothes and materialism and looking good for others by following a societal standard of what is “expected” for her gender. But I obviously do not (yet) have any experience bringing up boys.

There are GREAT men out there (I married one!). Obviously their families (mothers) did something right. So what was it?