Her name is Osher. It's a pseudonym. It can be Coral or Agam or Yuval, it doesn't matter. One of those cool new names that young, hip parents give their children in Israel these days. You sit there and think about her parents and the dreams they had for her, wanting her to grow into someone special, wild, different. Parents these days don't make do with a modest Biblical name; they want a Hollywood-style name, fit for someone who stands out in a crowd.
Yet here is Osher now, sitting here, showing me her self-inflicted cuts. She tried to commit suicide. The reason for this: She is 14-years-old, but in her words has the "experience of a 30-year-old." She slept with more than 20 men by now. Actually, let's be accurate here – more than 20 children. Most of the guys she slept with are from her age group, except for a few who already joined the army, and that 23-year-old loser. She was also "with" more than 40 other children ("with" means she had sexual relations with them without intercourse.)
It is a little hard to believe, but this really is happening all around us. Because along with their slang, today's young Israelis also have a few new key players at childhood: The Internet, social networks and mobile phones. For example, just a few weeks ago the country was outraged over an online video showing a 13-year-old boy and girl his age having sex. Throughout the entire video, the girl can be seen asking the boy to put his phone down and stop filming her. This is precisely the difference between our adolescence and theirs. We also fooled around, experimented, and burned with curiosity. Only with us, there wasn't the technology.
'We're all sexually active'Osher sent me an email a few months ago: "I'm 14, and I have a story that may be of interest to you…I live in a small and rather normal northern town…a few months ago I read the project you did in the newspaper about our young generation and I thought to myself: Why don't I present parents with some truth?"
This is the point where you're supposed to smile and say: "Well, my girl is not like that. She never went to sleep over at a friend's house or ran away from home." But you better listen to Osher's story.
"Not all the sluts are crazy girls who run away from home, like me," she says. "Many of them do it in the afternoons, in all sorts of places and public parks. They tell their mom they're going over to a friend but they're actually going to meet a guy from school. It's over in half-an-hour, and you're back home to watch your favorite TV show with mom."
It's hard to understand. She comes from a normative family. Her father owns a business, her mother has a job. How does such girl wake up one day and embark on a self-destructive rampage full of sex and alcohol in dark forests? It's like some kind of bizarre "Kill Bill", like a 14-year-old Uma Thurman, only without any clear motive. There is no answer to the one question that is bothering me – What caused her to get up one day and go out and waste her body?
And it's not just her. Osher swears that most girls her age are like this. "We are all sexually active in some way," she says, "Don't fool yourselves for a moment."
'Like ordering pizza'According to Osher, "Everyone our age is having sex. We all do it. I have a friend my age, Amit, and he is a sex maniac. He was in the bathroom at a club, where he did it with two girls together, both our age. All day he hangs around with his cocky friends and they give each other high fives over how manly they are and how girls throw themselves at them."
What kind of girls are these?
"The sluts, girls from the neighborhood. Girls who they call up on the cell phone and say, 'Come down.' They ask you to come down like they're ordering a pizza, and you can't really say no. They turned me into one of these. I was 12 and I wanted to fit in and be part of the gang. They turned me into one of those girls that gets called and just comes."
Why is it awful and annoying?
"Because it is. Because on the one hand, you like the guy, and he is kind of sexy. And on the other hand, what did you really want? To sit with a person and talk about life, to have a heart-to-heart, to get a hug, to have him ask you how your day was. Then, 90% of the time the boys who come to sit and talk with me don't view me as a conversation companion. They view me as a slut."
Are you aware that every single one of the boys that you were with is breaking statutory rape laws? And each one of them could potentially go to jail or an institution?
"Then I ask you: Would you be able to go and snitch on one of them? To go and say he is a criminal?"
'I wasn't raped'Forget everything you knew about sluts. And I purposely use the word "sluts," because this is how Osher refers to it. She hates to see what's happening to her being packaged into pity-filled psychological terms.
"I wasn't raped. I even seduced some of the guys…stop thinking that all of us come from families in distress or that we're all fat and sleep with everyone to get some attention. These days, girls my age have sex, period. And until you continue to treat us like this, be shocked and send us to the district psychiatrist so he can prescribe pills just because we dared make out with someone, we'll continue not telling you. We'll simply tell you nothing," she says.
It's generally thought that these girls become easy prey because they suffered sexual assault as children. Osher did not go through any such experience. Furthermore, she is also very smart. That's the scary part, the gap between her high intelligence and the foolish wantonness she is putting her body through.
"I know I'm smart," she says, "and on the other hand, I am stupid. How do you explain that? Do you have an answer?"
I sigh. If I had to define adolescence, this is exactly how I would do it. The mind develops and is flooded with quotes from great poets, while the spirit remains extra small, juvenile.
Low self-esteemThe thing is, Osher has low self-esteem. In fact, most girls between the ages of 13 and 14 have problematic self-esteem. "The boys just wipe it out at this age," I was told by an educational advisor I contacted for this report. "You see it in the classroom. The boys are loud, noisy, they participate in class. Little show-offs. The girls are quiet, afraid to stand out. Girls at this age need female empowerment lessons, they need to have their minds, spirits, and skills sharpened. They need to understand they are also allowed to excel in mathematics, and not just be judged on their hip-hop dancing skills."
"We are raising a generation of young Christina Aguileras who think that a woman is nothing more than a sex object," she says. "Brilliant girls with brains and might find themselves giving in to the boys' 'sex is cool' terror."
And now Osher is sitting here and telling me that she would be a disappointment for any parent, and that I would hate her had she been my daughter. "Not at all," I say. "You're smart, you write beautifully, and I think you're a good person. I would be proud to be your mother."
"But I slept with so many guys," she says, bringing tears to my eyes. "Don't you get it? I'm finished, a total loss; I managed to ruin my own life."
And do you think that if your dad explains to you how wonderful you are, this would change?
"Of course. You think I'm running away like this for the fun of it? I'm running away because I'm scared…because I have nowhere to stay…I merely want some air. I want to say something to parents out there: Your girl is back from school? Look up from the computer, smile, and ask her how she is and how her day was. We may not respond, or maybe we will, but don't give up on trying. Stop with your screaming and threats for a moment, and occasionally tell us: 'I love you. I miss you.' Just so we don't think that we're a disappointment, and that you've completely given up on us.
Full story originally published by Yedioth Ahronoth
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